End could be near in hearing involving slain UConn professor
NEW BRITAIN – A hearing in a defense effort to have the murder charge against Linda Kosuda-Bigazzi dropped could be nearing an end.
On Friday, the ninth day of the hearing, defense attorney Patrick Tomasiewicz questioned two state police detectives and a state trooper who were at the Burlington home Kosuda-Bigazzi shared with her late husband, UConn medical school professor Dr. Pierluigi Bigazzi, as it was searched.
Kosuda-Bigazzi, 70, is accused of killing her husband with a hammer, then wrapping his body and stashing it in the basement of their home on Smith Lane.
Tomasiewicz focused on how state police detectives came to possess documents the defense contends are protected by attorney-client privilege, and how they were subsequently handled. Detectives testified the documents were found in a locked filing cabinet in a second-floor office at
the couple’s home.
One file was labeled “criminal defense attorney” and another “incident 2017.” A narrative, allegedly written by Kosuda-Bigazzi and describing the murder, was contained in both files. The narrative was used in the warrant for Kosuda-Bigazzi’s arrest.
Tomasiewicz contends the files contained privileged information and that when police read them, his client’s rights were irreparably harmed. He wants the case to be dismissed.
On Friday, Tomasiewicz focused on the language state police used to describe the evidence they collected and where it was found, and their knowledge of the attorney-client privilege.
Prosecutor Christian Watson discovered the potentially privileged information and brought it to the attention of the defense and New Britain Superior Court Judge Joan K. Alexander. He characterized it as an unintentional intrusion.
Alexander removed the New Britain state’s attorney’s office from the case and ordered a “Lenarz hearing” to evaluate what impact the intrusion has had on the case. That hearing has been going on before New Britain Superior Court Judge Vernon D. Oliver.
In State vs. Lenarz, Patrick Lenarz, a former karate instructor from Simsbury, was convicted in March 2007 of risk of injury after police said he improperly touched a minor. Lawyer Kevin Ferry of New Britain argued that Lenarz’s constitutional rights were violated after police and prosecutors read documents protected by attorney-client privilege on Lenarz’s computer.
In a 4-2 decision, the state Supreme Court found the “defendant was presumptively prejudiced by the prosecutor’s intrusion into the privileged communications taken from the defendant’s computer because the privileged materials contained a highly specific and detailed trial strategy.”
The justices said that any remedy other than dismissing the charges would be “a miscarriage of justice.” Lenarz was released from prison in November 2010, three years into his fouryear sentence.
Should the Kosuda-Bigazzi case survive the Lenarz hearing, it will be transferred to the Hartford Judicial District. Three more hearing dates are scheduled, and then the judge is expected to report his decision in writing.