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Court Decides if Accomplice will be Convicted

Five men formed a gang whose only purpose was to prey on drug dealers. They targeted drug dealers who were always awash with cash and robbed them. They also took the drugs they found on the drug dealers and sold these on the street. One night, on February 12, 1997, all five men planned to rob a drug dealer who had a first floor apartment on Riverside Drive.

Of the five men, one was to be the driver and wait for them in the car while the others entered the apartment of the drug dealer. A New York Criminal Lawyer said their plan was to ring the doorbell and when they were buzzed in, they would force themselves inside the apartment of the drug dealer. The group came late and they missed the drug dealer who had already left his apartment. There was no one home. So the five men went their separate ways.

A few hours later four of the five men came together to see if the drug dealer had come back to his apartment; the driver did not go back with his four friends on the second robbery attempt. He went home.

When the four men arrived, they could see the drug dealer inside his apartment. They buzzed his apartment and the drug dealer opened the door for the four men. They robbed the drug dealer of all his cash; but the drug dealer had very little cash in his apartment at that time. They tied up the drug dealer along with the other occupants of his apartment and made them all sit in one room while the four men searched the apartment looking for valuables. A New York Criminal Lawyer said that one of the four men took one of the occupants of the apartment into another room and announced that he was going to force him to talk to tell him where they hid the cash. Moments later, a shot rang out. One of the four robbers came out and told his gang mates that he had shot one of their hostages by mistake.

The four men fled. They all stayed hidden in their usual hangout and had a meeting the next night. The driver came to the meeting and he was surprised to hear that they went a second time to the drug dealer’s house and pushed through with the planned robbery without him. He also learned that one of them had shot a man dead in the apartment in the course of the robbery.
Two days later, the driver was arrested by the police for some other charge and it was then that he tried to cut a deal. He volunteered to testify and waive his immunity in the robbery with homicide for a lighter sentence on the current charges for which he had been arrested.
At the trial, the owner of the apartment, the supposed drug dealer, and the driver were presented as witnesses during the grand jury hearing. From the outset, the prosecutor already told the jury that the driver was an accomplice but he assured them that he was not present when the actual robbery with homicide took place. He also assured the grand jury that his testimony would be corroborated by other evidence that would directly link the four accused to the commission of the robbery with homicide. One of the four men also agreed to be discharged as an accused in exchange for his testimony as state witness. The prosecutor instructed the grand jury that the driver’s testimony and the testimony of one of the robbers corroborated each other.

The grand jury returned an indictment of three counts of felony murder, two counts of robbery in the first degree and one count of burglary in the first degree.

The defendant moved to dismiss the indictment on the ground that the two accomplices’ testimonies were not corroborated by independent evidence. A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer said the trial court who held the motion dismissed the indictment without prejudice to the refilling of the same charges. The trial court ruled that the crime was not just one isolated incident. The gang had a continuing conspiracy: it was their livelihood to rob drug dealers.

The only question before the Court in this appeal by the people is whether or not the driver can be considered an accomplice such that his testimony needed independent corroboration, seeing as he did not participate in the actual robbery or homicide.

The Court ruled that the driver was not an accomplice. He may have been an accomplice to the earlier attempted robbery; he may have been an accomplice in the ongoing conspiracy to rob drug dealers, but for the crime charged of felony murder and robbery in the first degree in the indictment, clearly, the driver cannot be considered an accomplice as he had no knowledge that the other four would try to rob the same drug dealer later on that evening. He also was not physically present when the robbery or the homicide took place. He is not an accomplice to this crime of felony murder and first degree robbery. A New York Drug Possession Lawyer said his testimony need not be corroborated by independent evidence. The dismissal of the indictment is reversed and the indictment is reinstated and remanded for trial.

Are you like this man who was charged with others for a robbery you planned but you were not present for? You need the assistance and advice of the New York City Robbery lawyer who can explain to you your defense. You need a New York Robbery attorney who can prove that you may have planned the robbery but your absence from the actual robbery negates your participation and guilt. Call Stephen Bilkis and Associates today, speak and confer with any of their NYC Robbery attorneys so that you can know how you can defend yourself. Enlist the aid of any of the NY Robbery lawyers from Stephen Bilkis and Associates today.

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