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Emotionally Disturbed Defendant Convicted of Homicide


This is an appeal case being held in the Court of Appeals in the State of New York. The respondent of the case is the People of the State of New York. A New York Criminal Lawyer said the appellant of the case is Lydell Harris. The appellant is represented by De Nice Powell of New York City with Lynn W. L. Fahey for counsel. The respondent is represented by the District Attorney of Kings County, Charles J. Hynes with Leonard Joblove and Anthea H. Bruffee for counsel.

Case History

The defendant has been convicted of second degree murder. A New York Criminal Lawyer said in the trial the evidence supplied by the People established that the defendant, Lydell Harris, killed his friend of many years, Larry Amorose using a machete. The defendant was aided by his girlfriend and they decapitated and dismembered the victim’s body and placed the parts in garbage bags and then threw the bags into the ocean just off Coney Island.

The defendant requested a charge for extreme emotional disturbance, which was denied by the trial court. This decision was made on the grounds that the evidence for extreme emotional disturbance was insufficient for justification to submit to the jury. The conviction judgment against the defendant was affirmed in the Appellate Division with leave to appeal. The defendant is now appealing the decision of denying his original request for an extreme emotional disturbance charge.

Court Discussion and Decision

Legislature has recognized the fact that some intentional homicides may be the result of an understandable response and thus deserve some mercy. A New York Drug Possession Lawyer said the fact that this particular homicide was committed at a time of extreme emotional disturbance of the defendant forms a circumstance that could reduce the murder charge to a first degree manslaughter charge. These circumstances are not limited to what is traditionally referred to as the heat of passion doctrine, but may also be considered in a wide range of situations where it is felt that some leniency should be given to a defendant who is emotionally disturbed.

Under Penal Law section 125.25 it states that a positive defense in the crime of second degree murder if it is found that the defendant acted under a the influence of a large emotional disturbance, that has a reasonable explanation, the reasonableness of the act must be determined for the viewpoint of the defendant in the particular situation. The trial court must assess whether or not there is sufficient evidence presented to show that an extreme emotional disturbance was apparent.

Using this type of defense in the case requires the defense to provide objective and subjective proof. This includes the state of mind of the defendant at the time of the crime and requires evidence showing that the conduct was influenced by the extreme emotional disturbance.

After reviewing all of the information from this particular case the Court feels that the trial court erred by not allowing the defendant to submit an extreme emotional disturbance defense to the jury. A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer said the Court finds that this is a reasonable defense in this case and the failure to allow it requires the Court to reverse the original decision in the matter. The Court orders the previous judgment reversed and grants a new trial for the defendant.

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