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New York Defendant Unsuccessfully Appeals Assault Conviction, Despite Argument Regarding Insufficient Evidence at Trial

In a recent case coming out of a New York Court, the defendant appealed his convictions for robbery, criminal possession of a weapon, and assault. Originally, the defendant had been found guilty of all three crimes after he was involved in a violent incident in 2017. On appeal, he made several arguments, one of which was that the court lacked sufficient evidence to find him guilty of the violent crimes. The court rejected the defendant’s argument and affirmed the convictions.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was involved in a drug deal with one other person, who became his co-defendant in this case. While the defendant was participating in what the court later learned was a marijuana purchase, the defendant pulled out his gun and shot two victims who were sitting in their car. Both the defendant and his partner, the co-defendant, were criminally charged, as it was discovered that the two men were accomplices in the gunpoint robbery.

Later, investigators found jail house recorded telephone conversations between the defendant and his accomplice, proving that the two men were at least acquaintances. Considering both this evidence as well as testimony regarding the crimes committed, a jury found the defendant guilty of the following crimes: robbery in the first degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, assault in the first degree, and assault in the second degree.

The Decision

On appeal, the defendant made several arguments. One of these arguments was that the evidence presented at trial was legally insufficient to establish that he was the one who committed the crimes. According to the defendant, the eyewitness testimony was unreliable and the prosecution did not have any DNA evidence to support the eyewitness testimony. Given the unreliability of the evidence presented, said the defendant, it was unreasonable for the jury to find him guilty as charged.

The court considered the defendant’s argument by looking at the circumstances surrounding the incident. First, said the court, each of the two victims involved in the assault had a close view of the defendant, and they were also able to identify the defendant from a review of his social media profile shortly after the incident. Given the fact that the victims were able to establish the defendant’s identity so clearly, this eyewitness testimony was to be given sufficient weight at trial to establish the defendant’s guilt.

Also, said the court, the lack of DNA evidence did not serve as a major problem. Because the prosecution had such reliable evidence from the eyewitnesses, DNA evidence was unnecessary. Thus, since the prosecution’s evidence was sufficient in scope, the court denied the defendant’s appeal.

The defendant also urged on appeal that the prosecution did not establish the element of serious physical injury to establish the assault in the first degree charge.  The Court found that the testimony of the victim that the gun shot required both immediate and then follow up surgeries and that hardware and a tendon transfer was necessary, was sufficient to establish the the element of serious physical injury.

The Appellate Court did however reduce the defendant’s effective sentence by finding error in the trial Court running the sentence for assault in the first degree consecutive to the sentence for assault in the first degree.  The Appellate Court order those sentences to run concurrently thereby reducing his effective sentence.

Have You Been Charged with a Violent Crime in New York?

If you are facing aggravated assault charges in the State of New York, call our office at Tilem & Associates. We offer effective and empathetic legal counseling so that you can feel safe knowing that your case is in trusted hands. For a free and confidential consultation, give us a call at 877-377-8666.

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