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Neither trial nor release from prison anticipated soon for Correa

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Sergio Correa wants his triple murder trial as soon as possible, and if he can't have it, he would like to be released from prison.

Neither the trial nor his release is anticipated anytime soon.

Before the coronavirus pandemic began, Correa, 28, was scheduled to go on trial this past March for some of the most vicious crimes in recent state history. He's accused of killing three members of the Lindquist family — Janet and Kenneth, 61 and 56, respectively, and their 21-year-old son Matthew — and burning down their home during a home invasion on December 20, 2017.

During a hearing Wednesday, Judge Arthur C. Hadden, who last month denied Correa's motion for a speedy trial, explained again that he is aware Correa is seeking the earliest possible trial. Hadden had explained last month that the right to life has to be protected for all the parties involved in a trial during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hadden spoke from the bench in New London Superior Court to Correa via video feed from the New Haven Correctional Center, where Correa is being held in lieu of $3 million. While criminal defendants ordinarily would appear before a judge, the Department of Correction and Judicial Branch have been coordinating remote hearings during the pandemic.

Defense attorney Joseph Lopez asked the judge to once again consider reducing Correa's bond, so that he could be released from prison and remain under house arrest, with other conditions, since "it doesn't look like a trial will occur in the near future." Lopez said Correa thinks he could post a $350,000 cash or surety bond, which would likely require paying a bondsman 7%, or $24,000.

Prosecutor Stephen M. Carney objected, citing the heinousness of the alleged crimes.

"We are sympathetic to the fact that the state, the Executive and Judicial branches, are not in a position to offer a trial today, or tomorrow," Carney said. "Nonetheless, these are very serious crimes."

The judge denied the bond reduction, leaving open the possibility that he would consider it in the future. 

"The refusal to reduce bond is based on the present situation and the present time," Hadden said. "As time goes on, that may change."

On March 19, Gov. Ned Lamont issued an executive order suspending the time requirements for speedy trials. The Judicial Branch is evaluating how it could safely conduct jury trials but has not released even a tentative schedule for their resumption. Murder trials require 12 jurors and up to four alternate members, making social distancing even more difficult than other trials, which require six jurors and a couple of alternates. Many of the state's courthouses, including the Huntington Street facility in New London where Correa would be tried, require jurors to sit shoulder to shoulder in courtroom jury boxes and have close contact with one another in small deliberation rooms.

While the pandemic continues, the state has continued to provide requested evidence to the defense, and Hadden said he has reviewed some records to determine what would be admissible to a jury. Lopez has continuously filed motions requesting certain records, some of which he has received, but Hadden warned the state that if material is not turned over in a timely manner, and the defense is prejudiced by the delay, he would consider excluding it from the jury.  

The judge scheduled another status hearing in the case for Aug. 13.

k.florin@theday.com

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