One Saturday morning, a military air force base exchange was robbed. The robber took nearly $30,000 from the cashier’s safe and putted into a plastic bag taken from a trash can near the cashier’s cage.
At the trial, a New York Criminal Lawyer said none of the five witnesses could identify the robber. The robber wore a hooded sweatshirt, used a towel to conceal the lower half of his face and another towel wrapped around his arm during the incident. One of the witnesses testified that she saw a black object inside the towel, which she thought was a gun. Another witness also testified that when a woman approached the cashier’s window in the exchange office, the robber raised his towel-wrapped arm, pointed it to the woman and threatened to kill her.
After the robbery, an airman mentioned the incident to his colleague. Less than three hours later, the airman paid a car dealer amounting almost $6,000 in cash as a down payment on a new car. The money that the airman spend was still bundled in wrappers that were dated, initiated and stamped with an official seal of the base exchange and during that weekend the robber spent close to an additional $2,000 on other purchases.
The airman was arrested the following Monday morning and his locker and dormitory room were searched pursuant to a military warrant. The search recovered additional $1,100, a plastic bag the same to the bag used to take away the money as well as clothing which matched to the description of the witnesses including sneakers with a green stripe. The expert’s testimony was presented at the trial and revealed that the design and wear characteristics of one of the airman’s sneakers was closely conformed to those of a footprint found in a sandy area adjacent to the Base Exchange. Further, the plastic bag was also identical formula and manufacturer used by the exchange.
During the questioning, the airman explained that the money he used for the down payment of the car was obtained from the settlement of an accident claim. A Manhattan Criminal Lawyer said when the airman confronted about the exchange money wrappers, he related an entirely different story which became the theory of his argument at trial. The airman stated that he borrowed $5,540 in cash from a loan shark who delivered the money to him behind the gas station on the base during the late morning of the incident. The said loan was consistent with evidence introduced at trial. The evidence shows that two days before the incident occurred, the airman sought to obtain money from various financial institutions and charities stating that he needed the money to ransom his niece, who had allegedly been abducted. The airman claimed that he had invented the story in order to obtain money for the down payment for the car.
Consequently, the jury found the airman guilty of both the robbery in the first degree and criminal possession of stolen property in the first degree.
On appeal, the airman raises numerous issues. As to those, the court agree that the charge as to the display of what appears to be a firearm was proper, but conclude that the recent possession charge as given was erroneous.
Based on record, the airman was entitled to have his position submitted to the jury under proper instructions in light of all the evidence. To charge only that from unexplained or falsely explained possession of part of the robbery proceeds the jury could conclude that the airman was the criminal without explaining to them that the airman, if guilty at all, could be found guilty of either robbery or possession of stolen property and if it was a reversible error.
As a result, the appellate division reversed the first decision and a new trial was ordered.
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