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People v. Wallace

Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

May 22, 2013

The People of the State of New York, respondent,
Maurice Wallace, appellant. (Ind. No. 2664-08)

Matthew Muraskin, Port Jefferson, N.Y., for appellant.

Thomas J. Spota, District Attorney, Riverhead, N.Y. (Michael Blakey of counsel), for respondent.



Appeal by the defendant from a judgment of the County Court, Suffolk County (Weber, J.), rendered October 5, 2010, convicting him of murder in the second degree and menacing in the second degree, upon a jury verdict, and imposing sentence. The appeal brings up for review the denial, after a hearing (R. Doyle, J.), of that branch of the defendant's omnibus motion which was to suppress his statements to law enforcement officials.

ORDERED that the judgment is affirmed.

The defendant contends that the Miranda warnings (see Miranda v Arizona, 384 U.S. 436) given to him before obtaining his statements were inadequate. This contention is unpreserved for appellate review and, in any event, without merit (see People v Louisias, 29 A.D.3d 1017, 1018-1019; People v Bartlett, 191 A.D.2d 574, 575).

Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution (see People v Contes, 60 N.Y.2d 620), we find that it was legally sufficient to establish the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Moreover, in fulfilling our responsibility to conduct an independent review of the weight of the evidence (see CPL 470.15[5]; People v Danielson, 9 N.Y.3d 342), we nevertheless accord great deference to the jury's opportunity to view the witnesses, hear the testimony, and observe demeanor (see People v Mateo, 2 N.Y.3d 383, 410, cert denied 542 U.S. 946; People v Bleakley, 69 N.Y.2d 490, 495). Upon reviewing the record here, we are satisfied that the verdict of guilt was not against the weight of the evidence (see People v Romero, 7 N.Y.3d 633).

The record establishes that the defendant's express waiver of his right to be present at sidebar conferences (see People v Antommarchi, 80 N.Y.2d 247) was made knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently (see People v Vargas, 88 N.Y.2d 363, 375-378; People v King, 234 A.D.2d 391). Further, the County Court providently exercised its discretion in declining to give a missing witness charge (see People v Edwards, 14 N.Y.3d 733; People v Savinon, 100 N.Y.2d 192, 196-197; People v Gonzalez, 68 N.Y.2d 424, 427).

Contrary to the defendant's contention, the tape-recorded conversation between a witness who testified at the trial and the defendant was relevant to issues at the trial, at least in part. Even if the admission into evidence of the entire conversation was error, the error was harmless, as there was overwhelming evidence of the defendant's guilt and no significant probability that any error in this regard contributed to his conviction (see People v Crimmins, 36 N.Y.2d 230, 241-242; People v Maggette, 244 A.D.2d 575, 576).

The defendant also contends that the County Court erred in directing him to be shackled behind bunting during the trial (see Deck v Missouri, 544 U.S. 622, 630). This issue is unpreserved for appellate review (see People v Glover, 96 A.D.3d 777, 777). In any event, although the County Court may not have articulated valid particularized reasons for granting the request to have the defendant shackled during the trial, any error was harmless (see People v Cruz, 17 N.Y.3d 941, 944).

The defendant's remaining contentions are unpreserved for appellate review and, in any event, are without merit (see People v Hues, 92 N.Y.2d 413, 419; People v Freycinet, 11 N.Y.3d 38, 42).


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