In a recent murder case coming out of a New York court, the defendant was partially successful in his appeal. Originally, the defendant was convicted of several crimes, including murder in the second degree, kidnapping in the first degree, burglary in the first degree, and attempted robbery in the first degree. On appeal, the defendant made many arguments, one of which was that incriminating evidence coming from his clothing should have been suppressed at trial. The court agreed with the defendant, ruling that the court should have suppressed the DNA evidence coming from his clothing.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, one evening in 2014, three men with masks forced themselves into an apartment and began shooting at the apartment’s residents. One of the residents was killed, and the three suspects promptly fled the scene.
The same evening, the defendant in this case was admitted to the emergency room with a gunshot wound in his leg. When an officer came to question him about the wound, the defendant said he needed to rest and would answer more questions at a later time. The officer left the room, taking a bag of the defendant’s clothing without permission as he left.
The next day, the officer returned and the defendant admitted to his participation in the shooting. Another detective arrived at the hospital, read the defendant his Miranda rights, and then took a confession from the defendant.
The defendant made several arguments on appeal, and the court considered each of the arguments individually. For example, the defendant argued that the statements he made to the officer prior to being read his Miranda rights should have been suppressed, but the court disagreed. The officer was not pressuring the defendant to make a statement nor to provide incriminating information. Because the defendant was not coerced in any way, these statements were properly admitted during trial.
The defendant was successful, however, in arguing that the DNA taken from his clothing should not have been admitted as evidence. The defendant argued that the officer who took his clothing from the hospital room violated his right to privacy, and the court agreed with him. The officer had no reason to think that the defendant was a suspect in the shooting when he first visited the defendant, so he had no right to take the clothing and extract DNA from it. It was also true, though, that the State had alternate DNA evidence beyond what was taken from the clothing, so the court concluded that the clothing DNA would not have made a difference in the case’s outcome either way.
Ultimately, the court affirmed most of the defendant’s convictions but vacated the convictions of kidnapping in the second degree and murder in the second degree. According to the court, the defendant committed a single act that fulfilled the definition of both of these convictions; therefore, he should not have been convicted of both crimes separately.
Given the court’s partial reversal, the defendant’s sentence was deemed excessive, and his prison time was lowered significantly.
Are You Defending Yourself Against Murder Charges in New York?
If you are facing murder charges in New York and are seeking representation, call our team at Tilem & Associates today. We understand how much is on the line when fighting your criminal charges, and we are committed to standing by you every step of the way. For a free consultation, call us at 877-377-8666.