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People v. Jones

Court of Appeals of New York

June 25, 2013

The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent,
v.
Lester Q. JONES, Appellant.

Page 450

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 451

[971 N.Y.S.2d 741] Dechert LLP, New York City (Matthew L. Mazur and Jonathan R. Streeter of [971 N.Y.S.2d 742] counsel), and Richard M. Greenberg, Office of the Appellate Defender, for appellant.

Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., District Attorney, New York City (Grace Vee and Susan Gliner of counsel), for respondent.

Page 452

OPINION

PIGOTT, J.

[994 N.E.2d 833] The principal issue on this appeal is whether the connection between defendant's illegal arrest and his subsequent lineup identification was sufficiently attenuated as to dissipate the taint of the wrongful arrest. The Appellate Division determined that it was and, because there is record support for that conclusion, we affirm.

In the early hours of May 16, 2006, a New York City detective responded to a distress call at an apartment building in Manhattan and spoke with the victim and her neighbor about an incident that occurred that morning. According to the victim, a man, whom she later identified as defendant, followed her onto the elevator and demanded money. A struggle ensued. When they reached the fifth floor, the elevator opened and they fell into the hallway. The man rifled through the victim's wallet and took her cash and credit cards. The victim described the man as six feet tall, in his early to mid-thirties with dark skin and a large build. The neighbor who had witnessed the incident gave the detective a similar description, adding that the perpetrator had a large nose and went by the street name " Izz."

Page 453

The detective contacted a colleague from the Manhattan Gang Unit, who ran the nickname through a database. The detective learned that " Izz" was also known as " Michael Wright." With that information, the detective obtained a rap sheet and photograph of Michael Wright, both of which he placed in his case folder. The rap sheet indicated that Michael Wright also went by defendant's given name, Lester Jones. The physical attributes listed on the rap sheet matched those relayed to the detective by the victim and her neighbor.

Several days later, a sergeant was reviewing the robbery report when he recognized the name of a worker at the store that the victim had visited before she was attacked. The employee had told the detective that he saw the man leaving the apartment building 5 to 10 minutes after the incident. The sergeant contacted the store employee, who told him that he knew the man who had committed the crime. The sergeant gave the employee his cell phone number and asked the employee to call him the next time he saw the man.

On May 31, 2006, at approximately 2:00 A.M., while the sergeant was on duty, the store employee called and told him that the man was at the store. When the sergeant arrived with two other officers, the employee told him that the man, who was wearing white pants, had just left. The sergeant located the man— defendant— around a nearby corner, and when asked, the defendant identified himself as " Michael Wright" but was unable to produce identification.

Here, the story takes an unfortunate turn. The sergeant concluded that the defendant was blocking the sidewalk and, because he had no identification, handcuffed the defendant and escorted him to an unmarked police car, with the intention of charging him with disorderly conduct. In later testimony, it was the sergeant's view that the defendant was not free to go because he had been identified as a person involved in the robbery. As the sergeant and defendant were walking to the police car, the ...


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