Barbara J. Davies, Chief Attorney, The Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo, Inc., Buffalo (Kristin M. Preve and David C. Schopp of counsel), for appellant.
Frank A. Sedita, III, District Attorney, Buffalo (Matthew B. Powers and Donna A Milling of counsel), for respondent.
Defendant Daryl H. contests his conviction for assault in the first and second degrees, based on allegedly improper evidentiary trial rulings. The Appellate Division modified, vacating the
second degree assault conviction on other grounds, and, as modified, affirmed (96 A.D.3d 1482, 946 N.Y.S.2d 745  ). We now affirm the order of the Appellate Division.
Defendant was a patient in the psychiatric ward of the Erie County Medical Center [977 N.Y.S.2d 673] [999 N.E.2d 1118] (ECMC) when he assaulted and severely injured another psychiatric patient, Darren W. The two men were in the television lounge one evening when defendant became angry at Darren W. and then proceeded to hit him, and kick him in the head while he was lying on the floor, to the point of rendering Darren W. motionless.
Three nurses observed the altercation and sounded an alarm after they unsuccessfully tried to intervene. Hospital staff responded to the alarm and escorted defendant to his room. There, he recounted the events surrounding the altercation to a psychiatry resident. Later that night, in response to another alarm, hospital staff found defendant yelling and swearing. A nurse eventually coaxed him into receiving an intravenous shot of antipsychotic medication.
The next morning, defendant met with Dr. Dori Marshall, who evaluated him to determine whether he posed a safety risk to himself or others. He told her that he had been in a fight and that the " other person deserved it." In response to her questions about whether he knew what happened to people who assaulted others, he responded " you can be arrested" but contended that he would not be arrested because of his schizophrenia. Upon completion of her interview, Dr. Marshall called the ECMC Police and asked them to arrest defendant. An officer waited with defendant until the Buffalo Police arrived to take him into custody. Dr. Marshall prepared a discharge report describing her findings about defendant's mental state and recommending his arrest. She later gave a deposition recounting these events.
Based on the attack, defendant was charged with attempted murder in the second degree (Penal Law §§ 110.00, 125.25 ) and assault in the first and second degrees (Penal Law §§ 120.10; 120.05 ). During the bench trial, Dr. Marshall testified about her interview with defendant. The testimony became the subject of several objections by both parties, with both sides receiving their share of favorable and unfavorable rulings. Initially, the People sought to elicit opinion evidence from her regarding defendant's mental capacity during the course of the interview. However, Supreme Court sustained defense counsel's objection that defendant's mental capacity the day following the
incident was irrelevant. Dr. Marshall then testified as to statements made by defendant. The People again sought to elicit opinion evidence and Supreme Court ...