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In re Tatiana N.

April 8, 2010


Respondent agency appeals from the order of disposition of the Family Court, Bronx County (Robert R. Reed, J.), entered on or about September 11, 2008, which adjudicated appellant a juvenile delinquent upon a fact-finding determination that she committed acts that, if committed by an adult, would constitute the crimes of assault in the second and third degrees, attempted assault in the second and third degrees, menacing in the second and third degrees, criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, reckless endangerment in the second degree, and endangering the welfare of a child, and placed her on probation.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Saxe, J.

Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.

This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.

Richard T. Andrias, J.P., David B. Saxe, John W. Sweeny, Jr., Karla Moskowitz, Sheila Abdus-Salaam, JJ.

Presentment Agency.

This juvenile delinquency proceeding arose from events that occurred at a movie theater on East 161st Street in the Bronx, in which a family was subjected to a moviegoer's worst nightmare: a group of rowdy, uncontrolled teenagers sat near them and disrupted their enjoyment of the movie, and then, having ignored or mocked requests to behave properly and been ejected from the movie theater, lay in wait for the family outside the theater in order to surround, threaten and attack them when they emerged from the theater.

On November 24, 2007, appellant Tatiana N. and her co-respondent Terrence M., accompanied by a number of other youths, arrived at the theater at approximately 10 p.m. Complainants J.F. and R.W., along with J.F.'s 24-year-old daughter and her two-year-old son, were watching a movie that was about two-thirds under way. The youths sat near the family and began making crude remarks, using their cell phones, and being noisy and disruptive. J.F. and then R.W. asked them "to please keep the noise down." Some unpleasant remarks were offered in response, which J.F. and R.W. initially disregarded, until, after a subsequent request to keep the noise down, the group responded by becoming aggressive and cursing, saying "[t]he [h]ell with you," "[f]___ you," and "[s]hut up." R.W. then left his seat to go to the lobby to complain, brushing Terrence's arm or cell phone in the process. The teenagers followed him out. J.F., concerned for R.W.'s safety, followed as well.

When the group reached the lobby, an argument ensued in front of a theater security guard. After about three minutes R.W. and J.F. were permitted to return to the movie; the teenagers were not. A few minutes after they had returned to their seats, however, one of the theater staff asked them to return to the lobby. The group of teens was still there, cursing and threatening to "kick your ass," and the guard informed R.W. that Terrence had alleged that R.W. punched him in the face. R.W. denied the charge, and he and J.F. were again permitted to return to the theater. During this interchange, Terrence looked at R.W. and pointed his left hand at R.W. in the shape of a gun.

At the end of the movie, J.F. called for a cab to pick the family up outside the theater, but they had to cross the theater parking lot to meet it. They exited the building and had begun walking across the parking lot, J.F. taking the lead in an effort to look out for the rest, when the group was surrounded from behind by the teenagers, including Terrence and Tatiana, threatening and taunting them with such remarks as "Oh, what[,] you be tough now," and "I'm going to kick your ass." J.F. gave his daughter his cell phone, telling her to call the police.

R.W. turned and headed back to the theater to seek assistance from theater security staff, and several of the teenagers, including Terrence and Tatiana, followed and attacked him, with Terrence and another teenager hitting him from behind. J.F. ran toward R.W. to assist him, and the group then focused on J.F., trying to hit him. When R.W. returned, he tried to help J.F., and both men testified that they saw Terrence swinging at J.F. with a knife in his hand. According to J.F., Terrence had also tried to punch him, but he was able to block the blow and kick Terrence in the chest. J.F. testified that he sustained injury to the area around his ribs in the process of jerking around to avoid the attack.

The teenagers regrouped, and Tatiana turned to threaten J.F.'s daughter, who was holding her two-year-old son. Tatiana taunted, "I'm going to kick your ass, come on let's fight," and told the young woman to "put the kid in the car" so they could fight. R.W. stepped in between the two women, and Tatiana swung at R.W. and pulled his hair, her fist grazing his forehead but not causing any injury. When J.F., in turn, warned Tatiana not to hit the others, Tatiana chest-bumped him.

J.F. kept yelling that the police were on the way, and eventually the teens headed east on 161st Street. The police arrived shortly thereafter.

Based upon this testimony, which the Family Court properly accepted as credible, the adjudication against Tatiana must be affirmed. When we view the evidence, as we must, in the light most favorable to the presentment agency (see Matter of Denzel F., 44 AD3d 389 [2007]), the court's findings were sufficiently supported by the evidence. Furthermore, they were not against the weight of the evidence.

The charges against Tatiana fall into two categories: those for which she incurred principal liability for her own actions -- attempted assault in the third degree against two individuals, third-degree menacing, and endangering the welfare of a child -- and those for which she incurred accomplice liability, based upon her shared intent with Terrence for his actions -- second-degree assault, second-degree menacing, third-degree assault, criminal possession of a weapon, and reckless ...

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