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Attorneys argue pretrial motions in Griswold triple-murder case

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A judge on Monday heard pretrial motions in the case of Sergio Correa, who is charged with killing three members of the Lindquist family in Griswold in 2017 and setting their house on fire.

A 12-member jury and six alternates were finalized this month for Correa's trial after a weeks-long jury selection process. The trial, which has been delayed for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to begin in November and last several weeks.

Correa is charged with murder with special circumstances, home invasion, arson and other charges in connection to the deaths of Janet and Kenneth Lindquist, 61 and 56, respectively, and their 21-year-old son Matthew on Dec. 20, 2017.

Multiple pretrial motions were heard in New London Superior Court on Monday morning before Judge Hunchu Kwak, including an objection from Correa's defense attorneys, Joseph Lopez and Corrie-Ann Mainville, to allowing testimony from his sister, Ruth Correa, about actions her brother took toward Janet Lindquist before her death that were allegedly sexual in nature.

Ruth Correa in May pleaded guilty to three counts of felony murder as part of a plea deal that requires her to testify against her brother in exchange for a suggested sentence of 40 years served in prison.

Attorneys on Monday discussed testimony from Ruth Correa in which she recalled finding Sergio Correa in Janet Lindquist's bedroom the night of her murder, making her take off her underwear and making "disparaging" comments that were sexual in nature. Attorneys for both sides referred to the actions as "torture" of Janet Lindquist, but Correa's defense attorneys argued that since Correa isn't facing any charges directly related to these actions, Ruth Correa's testimony about them shouldn't be allowed to be brought forth during the trial.

Supervisory Assistant State's Attorney Stephen M. Carney, who is prosecuting the case, said Ruth Correa's testimony about these actions toward Janet Linquist help to tell the complete story of what happened on Dec. 20, 2017.

"I think it's important that the jury understands as much as possible what was going on in this house," he said, adding that Ruth Correa is able to tell the story of what happened that night and that "the jury is entitled" to hear it.

Carney said that although the account of what Ruth Correa said she saw in the bedroom is disturbing, it is "not so out of character and disturbing that it should arouse the emotions of the jury unfairly."

He also said it shows motive for Janet Lindquist's murder and shows that Sergio Correa was in the family's home that night with the intention of committing unlawful acts.

Mainville called the testimony "highly inflammatory and highly emotional" since there were no charges brought against her client related to this particular testimony.

"Basically we're going to put something in front of the jury that is highly prejudicial and suggests sexual misconduct and torture before the murders," she argued.

The attorneys discussed whether the testimony corroborated physical evidence since Mrs. Lindquist's underwear were on her body when it was found. Mainville argued that the testimony did not corroborate any other evidence in the case.

Correa, dressed in a bright yellow jumpsuit, appeared in court and sat quietly in the courtroom, occasionally speaking with his lawyers. Members of the Lindquist family were also present in the courtroom.

Attorneys also discussed a motion to eliminate evidence of a gas container and knives that were found in a car Sergio Correa was known to use about 10 days after the murders.

The judge asked if the items had any connection to the crime scene or any DNA evidence connected to the victims. Carney said no, but argued that there was evidence and testimony that both a gas can and knives were used to commit the crimes.

Mainville questioned the relevancy of the fact that these items were found in her client's car more than a week after the home invasion/murders and said she thought bringing that evidence forth in trial was "highly prejudicial," arguing that it could not be connected to the crimes he is charged with.

Carney noted that overall, attorneys on both sides were trying "to get to the same place of presenting to the jury things that are not misleading or inflammatory."

Correa, who will turn 30 on Oct. 3, is scheduled to appear in court next on Monday for another pretrial hearing. He is being held in lieu of $3 million bond at New Haven Correctional Center.

t.hartz@theday.com

Editor's Note: This version corrects the spelling of Judge Hunchu Kwak's first name.

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