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    Sunday, February 25, 2024

    Sister takes stand in Correa trial, describes brutal attacks on family and dog

    Ruth Correa indicates her adoptive brother, defendant Sergio Correa, as she takes the stand Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, to testify in the Lindquist triple murder trial in New London Superior Court. Sergio Correa faces a 14-count indictment in the deaths of three members of the Lindquist family in December 2017 in Griswold. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Ruth Correa took the witness stand Thursday to testify against her adoptive brother Sergio Correa, describing in excruciating detail the hours of torment she says she and her brother inflicted upon three members of the Lindquist family before leaving them for dead and setting fire to their house.

    Family members and friends of the Lindquist family packed a courtroom in New London Superior Court on the fifth day of the trial, passing around tissues as they wept, occasionally stepping out when the testimony of Janet Lindquist’s torture became too much to bear. Eric Lindquist, whose brother and parents were killed, left halfway through the day.

    In a brief cross-examination before court ended early, Ruth Correa told her brother’s defense attorney Joseph Lopez that not all of what she’s testified to has been the truth. When he asked her if she’d told lies under oath, she quietly replied, “Some.”

    But first, Ruth Correa walked the jury through a play-by-play of the vicious murders, speaking so softly from the witness stand that she could barely be heard.

    The 27-year-old said that on Dec. 19, 2017, she woke up, smoked marijuana and got her hair cut before driving to Griswold with her adopted brother Sergio to meet with a man she later learned was 21-year-old Matthew Lindquist.

    When the siblings pulled into a cul-de-sac near Kenwood Estates in Griswold, Ruth Correa told the jury that Lindquist got into the back seat of her brother’s Mitsubishi Galant and chatted with her brother. Matthew Lindquist and Sergio Correa had worked out a plan via text that day: Matthew would steal his father’s gun safe and give it to Sergio Correa in exchange for heroin and some cash. They planned to stage a break-in and blame it on “two Black guys,” she said.

    But, Ruth Correa testified, the plan went awry.

    Sergio Correa brought empty drug bags with him to the deal and Matthew Lindquist got “fidgety,” she said. He decided to get out of the car and run into the woods, and Sergio Correa chased after him. But before he did, Sergio Correa reached between the car seats and grabbed a machete, Ruth Correa said.

    And thus began hours of mayhem.

    When the siblings followed Matthew Lindquist into the woods, Ruth Correa told the jury that her brother had whacked Matthew Lindquist on the back of the head with the machete. Her brother looked to her and told her to “get him.” Then he took her hand and forced her to stab Matthew Lindquist in the chest with a knife, she said.

    Ruth Correa said they each continued to stab him repeatedly, from his shoulders down to his legs. Matthew Lindquist asked them why they were killing him and they told him they were going to call an ambulance. They didn’t. They left him on the floor of the forest, where his body wouldn’t be found for nearly five months.

    Dressed in gray prison clothes and wearing glasses with her hair pulled half up, Ruth Correa sat just feet away from her brother. Supervisory Assistant State's Attorney Stephen M. Carney and Judge Hunchu Kwak had to ask her repeatedly to speak up, as she told the horrific details in a calm voice.

    Ruth Correa over the summer agreed to testify against her brother as part of a plea deal with the state that gives her a recommended sentence of 40 years in prison, instead of a life sentence. Sergio Correa, 30, faces 14 charges in connection to the Lindquist murders and would be sentenced to life in prison without the possiblity of parole if convicted.

    As a witness for the prosecution, Ruth Correa spoke for hours Thursday, describing her brother as the mastermind behind the slayings. “Sergio wanted to get what he was told he was going to get,” she said, referring to the gun safe he'd planned to acquire from Matthew Lindquist.

    After attacking Matthew Lindquist, Ruth Correa said she and her brother walked to the Lindquist house armed with a baseball bat and golf club. They sneaked in through an open basement door and found the gun safe, which was locked and bolted to the floor. Then they made their way upstairs into the kitchen, waking up Matthew Lindquist’s father, Kenneth, who had been asleep on the couch with the TV on.

    According to Ruth Correa, Kenneth Lindquist shouted at them to “get out” and Sergio Correa went after him with the baseball bat.

    The family’s dog, Skylar, started barking in defense of his family. Ruth said she hit the dog with the golf club so hard, the club broke and the dog retreated, whining in pain.

    By that time, Matthew’s mother, Janet Lindquist, had come into the room. Ruth Correa said her brother ordered her to bring Janet Lindquist into Matthew’s bedroom, where she sat on the bed crying. Ruth said she told Janet that it was her son’s fault they were there and said, “I don’t want to be here any more than you want me to be here.”

    “Then it got quiet,” Ruth Correa told the jury.

    Sergio Correa came into Matthew’s bedroom and ordered Ruth to take Janet Lindquist into another bedroom. They locked Skylar in Matthew’s bedroom and headed to a larger room, where Janet was crying on the bed. “It was an uncontrollable cry,” Ruth said.

    As Ruth Correa began rummaging through the house for items to steal — shoving laundry detergent, towels and sheets into a trash bag — Sergio Correa stayed with Janet Lindquist. After finding a room full of Christmas presents she would later take, Ruth Correa said she went back into the bedroom and took $200 in cash from Janet’s purse.

    Sergio Correa aimed a gun at Janet, who was “bunched into a ball” on the bed in her nightgown, terrified, Ruth Correa said. Then her brother “told her to take care of her.” To kill Janet Lindquist, she clarified.

    Ruth Correa said she refused.

    After that, she said her memory “gets a little foggy.” She went on to describe Janet Lindquist’s death, saying her brother forced Janet onto her knees and shoved her face onto the bed, then attacked her with the bat. When Janet continued to make noise, Sergio Correa went to the closet, got a shoelace and strangled her until she finally fell silent, Ruth Correa said.

    At the start of the court session Thursday, attorneys for both sides discussed a previous ruling by the judge not to allow testimony from Ruth Correa in which she describes what lawyers called “sexual taunting” of Janet Lindquist. Carney also reminded Ruth of a long list of things she wasn’t allowed to mention in her testimony, including her brother’s criminal history, his previous prison sentences and his pornography consumption.

    Ruth Correa then walked the jury through how she and her brother stole items from the home before setting it on fire and then stole Matthew Lindquist’s car, which also was later set ablaze. She talked briefly about the day months later that police banged down the door of her Hartford apartment.

    In the last half-hour of the court session Thursday, defense attorney Lopez cross-examined his client's sister, pointing out discrepancies between her testimony that day and previous statements she’s made to investigators and prosecutors, from what she was wearing the night of the murders, to what she thought she was going to do when she got to Griswold.

    Lopez is expected to continue questioning Ruth Correa on Friday.

    t.hartz@theday.com

    Sergio Correa listens as his adoptive sister Ruth Correa takes the stand Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, to testify in his triple murder trial in New London Superior Court. Correa faces a 14-count indictment in the deaths of three members of the Lindquist family in December 2017 in Griswold. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Judge Hunchu Kwak questions State's Attorney Stephen Carney, reflected in the plexiglass, as Carney and defense attorney Joseph E. Lopez Sr., discuss a point of Ruth Correa's testimony Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, during the triple murder trial of her adoptive brother Sergio Correa in New London Superior Court. Sergio Correa faces a 14-count indictment in the deaths of three members of the Lindquist family in December 2017 in Griswold. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    State's Attorney Stephen Carney makes a point as he and defense attorney Joseph E. Lopez Sr., not pictured, discuss an issue with some testimony with Judge Hunchu Kwak before Ruth Correa takes the stand Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, to testify in the triple murder trial of her adoptive brother Sergio Correa in New London Superior Court. Sergio Correa faces a 14-count indictment in the deaths of three members of the Lindquist family in December 2017 in Griswold. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Defense attorney Joseph E. Lopez Sr. makes a point Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, as he and prosecutor Stephen Carney, not pictured, discuss an issue with some testimony with Judge Hunchu Kwak before Ruth Correa takes the stand to testify in the triple murder trial of her adoptive brother Sergio Correa in New London Superior Court. Correa faces a 14-count indictment in the deaths of three members of the Lindquist family in December of 2017 in Griswold. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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