This is an Appeal by the defendant from a judgment of the Supreme Court, Suffolk County, convicting him of murder in the second degree, burglary in the first degree, and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, upon a jury verdict, and imposing sentence.
A Suffolk County Criminal attorney said that in May 2007, the defendant and four other individuals were arrested and charged with, inter alia, murder in the second degree, burglary in the first degree, and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, for their alleged involvement in stealing a wrist watch and marijuana from the home of the victim, who was shot and killed during the course of the burglary in May 2007. The four codefendants entered into plea agreements, while the defendant proceeded to a jury trial.
In a pretrial omnibus motion, the defendant moved, inter alia, for a hearing. The People consented to the hearing and in their papers, stated that “[i]f the People intend to introduce testimony of the defendant’s prior bad acts, we will move the Court, in a written application, with adequate notice to defense counsel.” In an order dated March 11, 2008, the Supreme Court granted the defendant’s request for a hearing to be conducted immediately prior to trial. However, no hearing was held, and the People never notified the defendant of their intention to impeach his credibility with respect to any prior criminal, vicious, or immoral acts.
During the jury trial, three codefendants testified against the defendant pursuant to their plea agreements, in addition to other witnesses, while the defendant was the only one to testify on his own behalf. Over defense counsel’s objection, the Supreme Court permitted the People to question the defendant extensively about two prior arrests: one for shoplifting from a Target store in February 2007, and another for unlawful marijuana possession, as well as about his school disciplinary record, including his several suspensions. The People also questioned the defendant about his mother’s incarceration as a result of an unrelated shooting of another individual.
Although the Supreme Court instructed the jury to disregard some of the questions relating to the defendant’s mother’s past, no limiting instruction was given to the jury with respect to the evidence of the defendant’s prior arrests or bad acts, despite defense counsel’s objections. Defense counsel moved for a mistrial, arguing that the prosecutor’s reference to the defendant’s mother’s shooting arrest was made for the purpose of inflaming the jury and to imply that the defendant had a propensity to shoot another person because of his mother’s behavior. The Supreme Court denied the motion for a mistrial, reasoning that it had instructed the jury to disregard the testimony at the time it was elicited.
If you need a lawyer who will defend and protect your rights during the trial of your case, don’t hesitate to contact our Suffolk County Criminal attorneys here in Stephen Bilkis and Associates. We will inform you of your rights as a party and how to enforce these rights. We also have Suffolk County marijuana possession lawyers, who will advise you in this kind of case.