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People v. Xochimitl

Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

February 1, 2017

The People of the State of New York, respondent,
v.
Omar Xochimitl, appellant. Ind. No. 2537/10

          Lynn W. L. Fahey, New York, NY (Dina Zloczower of counsel), for appellant.

          Eric Gonzalez, Acting District Attorney, Brooklyn, NY (Leonard Joblove, Rhea A. Grob, and Michael Brenner of counsel), for respondent.

          MARK C. DILLON, J.P., CHERYL E. CHAMBERS, BETSY BARROS, VALERIE BRATHWAITE NELSON, JJ.

          DECISION & ORDER

         Appeal by the defendant from a judgment of the Supreme Court, Kings County (Del Giudice, J.), rendered November 27, 2012, convicting him of manslaughter in the first degree, upon a jury verdict, and imposing sentence. The appeal brings up for review the denial, after a hearing, 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.

         Contrary to the defendant's contention, the Supreme Court properly denied suppression of his postarrest statements. " [T]he police may lawfully conduct a warrantless search when they have obtained the voluntary consent of a party who possesses the requisite degree of authority and control over the premises or personal property in question'" (People v Watson, 101 A.D.3d 913, 914, quoting People v Cosme, 48 N.Y.2d 286, 290; see Payton v New York, 445 U.S. 573, 576). Here, the evidence adduced at the suppression hearing established that an elderly female relative, who lived in the subject apartment with the defendant and other members of their family, gave the police consent to enter the apartment by opening the door and stepping aside in response to the officers' request to enter (see People v Lopez, 104 A.D.3d 876, 876; People v Nielsen, 89 A.D.3d 1041, 1042; People v Bran, 82 A.D.3d 1000, 1000; People v Taylor, 111 A.D.2d 520, 521). The evidence further established that the woman's consent was voluntarily given and was not the product of coercion (see People v Starks, 91 A.D.3d 975, 976; People v Quagliata, 53 A.D.3d 670, 672).

         The defendant's contention that the Supreme Court discharged potential jurors based upon their availability for the month-long trial without conducting a sufficient independent inquiry is unpreserved for appellate review (see People v King, 110 A.D.3d 1005, 1006; People v Casanova, 62 A.D.3d 88, 92; People v Toussaint, 40 A.D.3d 1017, 1017-1018) and, in any event, without merit (see People v Umana, 76 A.D.3d 1111, 1112; People v Toussaint, 40 A.D.3d at 1017-1018).

         The defendant's contention that the sentence imposed was improperly based on the crime of which he was acquitted is unpreserved for appellate review (see CPL 470.05[2]; People v Malcolm, 131 A.D.3d 1068, 1071) and, in any event, without merit (see People v Dubois, 116 A.D.3d 878, 878). Moreover, the sentence imposed was not excessive (see People v Malcolm, 131 A.D.3d at 1071; People v Gilliam, 168 A.D.2d 687, 688).

          DILLON, J.P., CHAMBERS and BRATHWAITE NELSON, JJ., concur.

          BARROS, J., dissents, and votes to remit the matter to the Supreme Court, Kings County, for a new determination of that branch of the defendant's omnibus motion which was to suppress his statements to law enforcement officials in accordance herewith, and thereafter a report to this Court advising of the new determination, and to hold the appeal in abeyance in the interim, with the following memorandum:

         Because the People's evidence at the suppression hearing was insufficient, as a matter of law, to meet their heavy burden in establishing that consent was freely and voluntarily given to the police before they entered the defendant's home, I dissent.

         At 6:00 a.m. on April 15, 2011, Detective John Kelly, accompanied by a team of officers from the violent fugitive task force who were armed and wearing bulletproof vests, appeared at the defendant's family's apartment to arrest the defendant for illegally reentering the country. The police suspected the defendant of committing a gang homicide but did not have probable cause to arrest him for that crime. The police did not obtain a warrant for the defendant's arrest.

         One officer was stationed at the front of the apartment building and two at the back. Detective Kelly was accompanied by at least three officers at the door of the defendant's family's apartment. Detective Kelly knocked on the door. An "elderly lady" opened the door. At the suppression hearing, Detective Kelly testified on direct examination that the elderly woman "motioned her hand to come in." But on cross-examination, he conceded that the elderly woman only "backed up, " and then the officers "stepped in." He interpreted the elderly woman's backing away as a suggestion "to come in."

         Detective Kelly did not recall whether the woman spoke English, and he testified that he did not have "much of a conversation" with her. Detective Joseph Perry, who also testified at the suppression hearing, stated that he was informed by Detective Kelly that the woman only spoke Spanish (see CPL 710.60[4] [hearsay evidence is admissible to establish any fact in a suppression hearing]). Detective Kelly testified that a ...


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