Ex-girlfriend's outburst leads to second call for mistrial in Griswold triple murder case

·4 min read

NEW LONDON – In the midst of a relentless cross-examination by one of her ex-boyfriend’s defense lawyers on Monday, Tanisha Vicento snapped and lashed out at the man accused of killing three members of a Griswold family in late 2017.

“Just admit what the f--- you did,” Vicento said to Sergio Correa, seated a few feet from the witness stand where Public Defender Corrie-Ann Mainville was questioning her. “Just get this over with. F---”

The outburst prompted Judge Hunchu Kwak to remove jurors from the New London Superior Court courtroom and Mainville to request a mistrial in the case, citing the “extremely prejudicial” nature of the statements for the jury.

File photo of Tanisha Vicento, former girlfriend of Sergio Correa, testifying at his probable cause hearing in September.
File photo of Tanisha Vicento, former girlfriend of Sergio Correa, testifying at his probable cause hearing in September.

Kwak denied the mistrial motion as too extreme a measure, but ordered Vicento's comments stricken from the record and instructed the jury to disregard them. He also declined Mainville's request to bar Vicento from testifying further.

"I am warning you not to argue with the attorneys," Kwak said. "If it happens again, I can lock you up and I don't want to do that."

Vicento’s verbal explosion came after nearly an hour of cross-examination by Mainville, who peppered the 25-year-old witness - who she described as hostile - with questions about her interactions with police involving Correa and the Dec. 20, 2017 murders of Matthew, Kenneth and Janet Lindquist.

More: A lawyer in the Griswold triple murder case demanded a mistrial. Why was it denied?

Vicento has inked an immunity deal with the state preventing her from being prosecuted for any crimes she might admit on the stand in exchange for her testimony. The jury is not privy to knowledge of that deal’s existence.

Testimony on the hours before and after the Lindquist family deaths

Earlier in the day, Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Stephen Carney elicited testimony from Vicento about the hours before and after the murders. At the time, she and Correa were living together in a Hartford apartment, not far from where Correa’s adopted sister, who is also accused in the murders, resided.

Vicento, who dated and lived with Sergio Correa for several months in 2017, said she and Correa went to bed on Dec. 19, 2017, but Correa left sometime that night and could not be reached by phone.

She testified she spotted an “excited” Correa the next morning near the couple’s car. She said she glimpsed “things that shouldn’t be there” in the vehicle’s trunk, including two “big, long” rifles, a blanket and coins.

Prosecutors contend Correa killed 21-year-old Matthew Lindquist after double-crossing him on a scheme to stage a robbery at his parents’ Kenwood Estates home in exchange for heroin.

Janet and Kenneth Lindquist, center, flanked by sons Eric, right, and Matthew, left. Janet, Kenneth and Matthew were killed in December 2017.
Janet and Kenneth Lindquist, center, flanked by sons Eric, right, and Matthew, left. Janet, Kenneth and Matthew were killed in December 2017.

Police said Correa and his sister, Ruth Correa, next entered the home where Sergio Correa killed Janet and Kenneth Lindquist and the pair robbed the home before setting it afire.

Vicento said on Dec. 20, 2017, she noticed a “bunch of stuff” at Ruth Correa’s apartment that she’d never seen before, including hair products, jewelry and computer components. Vicento said she later confronted Sergio Correa about his whereabouts at the time of the murders and was told by him that “he did the dad and (Ruth Correa) did the mom,” a statement she said she took as meaning the Correas killed the Lindquists.

Contradictory testimony

Mainville pointed out to Vicento that the details of her stories to police had changed several times over the years and intimated she was pressured by police to fabricate details out of a fear of losing her children.

Vicento, whose testimony on Monday seemed contradictory at times, agreed that her previous statements about changing her stories due to a fear of Sergio Correa were also untrue and said she was encouraged to make such claims by state police detectives.

But later in the day, she denied being coached by police when taking part in a May 2018 interview.

More: Griswold family murder survivors head into Thanksgiving week with a unique kind of grief

After repeatedly asking Vicento details about a May 11, 2018 interview with police, Vicento lost her composure, prompting the mistrial motion.

Carney, who said he should have objected to Mainville’s cross-examination technique, said the public defender was purposely trying to unsettle a “fragile” witness who obviously did not want to be testifying.

Sergio Correa, sits with his attorneys from the public defender's office, during a probable cause hearing in New London Superior Court Monday, July 22, 2019. Correa is charged in the murders of three members of the Lindquist family in Griswold in 2017.   (Pool photos by Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Sergio Correa, sits with his attorneys from the public defender's office, during a probable cause hearing in New London Superior Court Monday, July 22, 2019. Correa is charged in the murders of three members of the Lindquist family in Griswold in 2017. (Pool photos by Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

Mainville shot back she was merely talking the witness through her testimony and took umbrage to any characterization of that process as improper.

Sergio Correa faces 14 charges in the case, including murder with multiple victims, three counts of felony murder, home invasion, first-degree robbery, first-degree arson and second-degree arson.

Ruth Correa, who earlier this month testified against her sibling, previously pleaded guilty to three counts of murder in the case. A cooperation agreement recommends her serving 40 years for the crimes.

Vicento's cross-examination was ongoing at press time.

John Penney can be reached at jpenney@norwichbulletin.com or at (860) 857-6965

This article originally appeared on The Bulletin: Sergio Correa's former girlfriend testifies at Lindquist murder trial