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Defendant Files Appeal Based on Error in Denying Motion to Vacate Judgment in Robbery Case


Two separate robberies occurred in parking garages on the East Side of Manhattan in August of 1982. On August 17, A and two other individuals stole two cars after threatening the parking attendant with a gun. A few days later on August 20, 1982, B, who had participated in the first robbery, picked A up from his mother’s home. Another robbery occurred in a different parking garage and Colon and Tisdale were later seen showing off one of the four cars that were stolen to other people in the neighborhood. The parking attendant who worked at the second garage was found dead on the floor of the garage office. He had been killed with a shotgun and fingerprint evidence suggested that B but not A had been present in the office. Despite this evidence, Mr. A was convicted of second degree murder and first, second and third degree robbery. He was sentenced as a violent offender and received 15 years to life for the murder, 6 to 12 years each for the first and second degree robbery counts and 3 to 6 years for the third degree robbery count. The judge ordered the sentences to run concurrently with one another but consecutively with another sentence of 12 ½ to 25 years for an unrelated conviction.

Mr. A appealed his conviction on the grounds that the trial court committed an error in denying his motion to vacate the judgment based on insufficient evidence. The Supreme Court Appellate Division, first Department was charged with determining whether his appeal had any merit.

At trial, one of the individuals who participated in the first robbery provided testimony concerning the planning of the crime and its actual execution. This witness stated that Mr. A had used a gun during the robbery and that he had kept one of the stolen cars for himself. Two more witnesses also testified that Mr. A was seen driving the car following the robbery. Mr. A was attempting to enter this same vehicle at the time he was arrested and his fingerprints were found inside the car. The court held that this evidence, along with the testimony of the witnesses, was sufficient to prove the elements of the crime of robbery in the third degree. Under New York law, robbery involves the taking of another person’s property through the use of force or threat. Other types of crimes involving the theft of property, such as larceny or burglary, typically do not involve the use of force.

Mr. A’s attorney also argued that the prosecutor’s opening statements and the admission of photographs of the deceased victim into evidence were prejudicial to the case. Additionally, Mr. A claimed that the prosecutor’s questioning of a witness on redirect was outside the boundaries of what should have been allowed. The defense also raised an issue over the court’s decision to allow the sentences for murder and robbery to run consecutively with the other unrelated sentence.

The court opted to deny Mr. A’s arguments and accordingly, his conviction was upheld.

In the state of New York, robbery is a felony offense and conviction for this or a similar property crime can lead to life-altering consequences.

If you’ve been charged with robbery, you need the help of an experienced New York Criminal Defense Attorney to protect your rights. The law firm of Stephen Bilkis and Associates specializes in defending individuals against charges of robbery, burglary, larceny and other serious crimes. Call 1-800-NY-NY-LAW today to speak with one of our criminal defense experts. You may also stop by one of our New York area offices to discuss your case in person. Contact us today to get the expert legal help you need.

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