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People v. Richardson

Supreme Court of New York, First Department

February 21, 2017

The People of the State of New York, Respondent,
v.
Mark Richardson, Defendant-Appellant.

          Seymour W. James, The Legal Aid Society, New York (Denise Fabiano of counsel), for appellant.

          Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., District Attorney, New York (David M. Cohn of counsel), for respondent.

          Sweeny, J.P., Renwick, Mazzarelli, Manzanet-Daniels, Feinman, JJ.

         Judgment, Supreme Court, New York County (Richard D. Carruthers, J. at suppression hearing; Bruce Allen, J. at trial), rendered October 27, 2011, convicting defendant, after a jury trial, of murder in the second degree and robbery in the first and second degrees, and sentencing him, as a second felony offender, to an aggregate term of 25 years to life, unanimously affirmed.

         On the afternoon of Friday, January 11, 2008, defendant and one or more accomplices robbed and killed the 69-year-old victim inside her apartment in the Wagner Houses, in Harlem. The body was discovered by the victim's daughter approximately two days later. The victim's cell phone was not found in the apartment, but cell phone records indicated that several calls had been placed from the phone to friends and relatives of defendant. Surveillance video revealed that defendant had entered and exited the victim's building several times during the morning and afternoon of January 11th.

         On February 5, 2008, defendant agreed to accompany the police to the station for an interview. Defendant was not handcuffed and was told that he was free to leave. The police showed defendant a photo of the victim's body and said they wanted to ask him about her death, since they knew defendant often visited the building. The detectives advised defendant of his Miranda rights, which he waived in writing.

         Defendant initially denied knowing the victim, but eventually gave an oral statement, which the detective wrote down and defendant signed. Defendant claimed to be at work during the day of January 11, but admitted that he and an acquaintance, Anthony Hall, went to the victim's apartment in the evening to collect a debt owed him. Once inside the victim's apartment, the acquaintance began to argue with the victim, then slammed her into the refrigerator. When defendant tried to intervene, the victim's wallet fell. Defendant retrieved the wallet, put it on a table, and said, "[I]t's not worth this for my money." Defendant maintained that he left the apartment while the acquaintance and the victim were still arguing.

         Defendant refused to provide a DNA sample. An "I-Card" was issued to instruct any police officers who arrested defendant to obtain his DNA sample. On May 31, defendant was arrested on an unrelated charge. One of the detectives recovered defendant's cigarette butts and water cup for DNA testing.

         On July 3, the medical examiner informed the detective on the case that defendant's DNA matched the DNA recovered from the victim's breast.

         On the morning of July 10, defendant was arrested. At about 8:40 a.m., defendant was brought to an interview room, uncuffed, and given cigarettes. The police told him he was under arrest based on DNA evidence and other evidence obtained after he had given his first written statement on February 5th.

         The police left the room for about an hour. Then, around 9:45 a.m., the detectives returned. The lead detective read defendant's February 5th statement in order to "solidify what he said the first time"; as the detective read, defendant nodded. The detective discussed the surveillance video footage and cell phone records.

         Defendant said he stood by his written statement, whereupon the detective confronted him with the fact that the amylase from the victim's breast matched defendant's DNA. Defendant became "upset" and remarked: "[T]heoretically she could have been sitting on my lap and I could have been sucking on her titties." Defendant said: "[W]hat you got in the first statement is my statement and you are not getting anything else."

         At that point, the lead detective read defendant his Miranda rights. At 10:25 a.m., defendant signed a Miranda waiver and said that he did not want to speak or to answer questions.

         The lead detective left the room. At about 10:45 or 10:50 a.m., defendant was taken to a cell. One of the other detectives observed defendant with his head in his hands, saying: ...


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