Correa seeks to discredit sister's statements in Griswold triple murder case

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Two siblings charged with carrying out one of the most deadly crime sprees in recent state history likely will not be working together when it comes to resolving their court cases.

Attorneys for Sergio Correa, charged with killing three members of the Lindquist family and burning down their Griswold home in December 2017, notified New London Superior Court officials Tuesday that he wants a probable cause hearing on Aug. 27.

First, though, he wants information that could help him discredit the one person whose testimony against him could be the most damning: his adopted sister and alleged partner-in-crime, Ruth Correa. 

The 24-year-old sister described the crimes in detail to state police investigators and may be poised to testify against her adopted brother at the probable cause hearing or trial.

At the hearing, prosecutors Michael L. Regan and Stephen M. Carney will be required to present enough evidence for a judge to determine if there is probable cause to believe that the crimes occurred and that Sergio Correa committed them. The state's attorneys have not disclosed who they would call to the witness stand, but Ruth Correa would be one of their likely choices.

Sergio Correa's team of attorneys — Joseph E. Lopez Sr., Jessica Luu-Missios and Maureen Murphy from the public defender's office — filed motions Tuesday indicating they are seeking information that could discredit Ruth Correa's anticipated testimony, including mental health records and information from the Department of Children and Families, if it exists. They also seek disclosure of any discussion between state's attorneys and Ruth Correa's lawyers about whether she would receive "something of value" in exchange for her cooperation.

Arrested more than a year ago and charged with murder with special circumstances, three counts of felony murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree arson, second-degree arson and home invasion, Sergio Correa, 27, has yet to enter a plea, and until Tuesday had continually waived the 60-day time limit for a probable cause hearing, which all defendants facing a life sentence are entitled to and is often likened to a "mini trial."

Ruth Correa, who is charged with the same crimes as her brother, has waived her right to a probable cause hearing and is being held at the Janet S. York Correctional Institution in Niantic.

Arrest warrant affidavits in the case describe the siblings reuniting in the fall of 2017 after Sergio Correa spent 10 years in prison for violent crimes he committed as a teen. According to the warrants, Ruth Correa went along for the ride from Hartford to Griswold on Dec. 20, 2017. She said Sergio Correa had agreed to provide drugs to 21-year-old Matthew Lindquist in exchange for access to the Lindquist home to steal guns belonging to Lindquist's father, Kenneth.

Ruth Correa said that upon arriving in Griswold, she and "Gio" fatally stabbed Matthew Lindquist and disposed his body in the woods near the family home. As she returned to her brother's care covered in blood, she said her brother told her, "Man, I didn't know you lived this life," and she responded, "Buddy, for the 10 years you've been locked up, I've been doing stuff you don't even know about."

Their mutual admiration was short-lived, according to court documents.

Prior to their arrests, Ruth Correa said she heard from a family member that her brother was so paranoid about what had happened on that December night that he told a family member "he wanted the OK to kill her," according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Following their arrests, Sergio Correa immediately went on the defensive against his sister, telling a judge at an early court appearance, "By the way, she's lying."

Sergio Correa, who recently was moved from the Northern Correctional Institution to the New Haven Correctional Center, smiled at his mother and other family members Tuesday as he was led before Judge Hillary B. Strackbein.

His attorney, Lopez, said on the record that he'd filed six motions with the court. Two are redacted but appear to pertain to the mental health and child welfare records for Ruth Correa. Lopez said he would be sending subpoenas for those records and would be back before the court on July 22 to discuss them. Because they contain privileged information, the documents would be sent under seal to the court clerk. The judge would then review them "in camera" and decide whether they should be turned over to the defense and prosecution.

Both siblings could face being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Sergio Correa appears to be the lead aggressor, and Ruth Correa potentially could improve her prospects of one day being granted parole by testifying against her brother.

Formal cooperation agreements are more common in federal courts but not unheard of in Connecticut state courts. In its motion "for disclosure regarding any incentive or motive that cooperating co-defendant Ruth Correa may have for testifying against the state," Sergio Correa's attorneys cite a recent argument before the Connecticut Supreme Court during which members of the court "strongly criticized the 'wink and a nod' practice where the state claims that there are no implied benefits to a cooperating witness (either jail house informants or codefendants) for his/her testimony at trial."

In addition to the information about Ruth Correa, the defense motions also indicate Sergio Correa's attorneys are seeking records from the state laboratory and all notes and reports associated with the police investigation and witness interviews.

The defense also wants information about Claus, a state police dog trained in detecting accelerants; including his certifications, the number of scenes visited by him, the number of samples collected at each scene as a result and documentation regarding his confirmation rate.

k.florin@theday.com

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