This proceeding involves an appeal by the defendant from a judgment of the Supreme Court, Queens County rendered 17 June 2002 convicting him of rape in first degree, sodomy in the first degree, sexual abuse in the first degree (three counts) and burglary in the second degree, upon a jury verdict, and imposing sentence.
The court affirms the judgment.
Contrary to the defendant’s contentions, the Supreme Court correctly denied that branch of his motion which was to compel the complainant to submit to a psychiatric examination by a defense expert. It is well settled that a criminal defendant has no statutory or constitutional right to compel a complainant to undergo a pretrial psychological examination as ruled in the landmark cases of Matter of Brown v Blumenfeld and People v Kemp. While a court may possess the discretion to permit such an examination under appropriate circumstances, the defendant failed to demonstrate that such circumstances were present here akin to the cases of People v Earel and Peole v Jones.
It is the defendant’s contention that the Supreme Court erred in permitting the prosecutor to elicit expert testimony concerning the complainant’s mental state. It is uncontroverted that the complainant was developmentally disabled, and thus the prosecution was properly permitted to adduce expert testimony to help the jury understand the complainant’s intellectual limitations. As a general proposition, expert testimony is properly admitted to help lay jurors understand matters that are not ordinarily within their understanding akin to People v Brown and People v Lee.
It was held in the celebrated cases of People v Carroll and People v George that in sex crime prosecutions, expert testimony may be received on the manifestations of rape-trauma syndrome, to explain, inter alia, seemingly unusual behavior following the traumatic event. However, expert testimony may not be received when it inescapably bears solely on proving that a rape occurred akin to the cases of People v Taylor, People v Graham and People v Shay.
In the case at bar, the testimony of the prosecution’s expert began innocuously, as it was intended to help the jury understand the complainant’s intellectual limitations in the aftermath of the crime similar to People v Carroll and People v Story. The defense counsel, however, pointedly cross-examined the expert as to the complainant’s truthfulness, and whether she was capable of fabricating the accusations brought against the defendant; the expert ultimately was forced to concede that any human could lie. On redirect examination, the prosecutor thus sought to rehabilitate the complainant’s credibility by inquiring whether the complainant was capable of fabricating such an elaborate lie, to make up all the little details to tell a convincing lie and maintain it over a period of time. The expert opined that the victim was intellectually incapable of doing so.
On appeal, the criminal defendant contends that the expert thus impermissibly vouched for the complainant’s veracity. However, as the trial court properly observed, the defense counsel opened the door to this challenged testimony like in the cases of People v Torres, People v Martinez, People v Ocean and People v Koury. In any event, in light of the overwhelming evidence of guilt, including the complainant’s immediate identification of the defendant after directing police to his door, the gynecological medical evidence establishing that her physical condition was consistent with forcible rape, and the recovery of the defendant’s DNA from vaginal slides in the rape kit, the admission of the expert testimony, even if improper, was harmless error as also ruled in the cases of People v Story, People v Morales and People v Anderson.
The court finds defendant’s remaining contentions without merit.
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