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People v. Mateo

Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

March 1, 2017

The People of the State of New York, respondent,
v.
Domingo Mateo, appellant. Ind. No. 1912/11

          Lynn W. L. Fahey, New York, NY (Yvonne Shivers of counsel), for appellant.

          Richard A. Brown, District Attorney, Kew Gardens, NY (John M. Castellano, Johnnette Traill, Joseph N. Ferdenzi, and Jill A. Gross-Marks of counsel), for respondent.

          RUTH C. BALKIN, J.P., L. PRISCILLA HALL, HECTOR D. LASALLE, BETSY BARROS, JJ.

          DECISION & ORDER

         Appeal by the defendant from a judgment of the Supreme Court, Queens County (Margulis, J.), rendered February 20, 2013, convicting him of murder in the second degree (three counts), kidnapping in the first degree, kidnapping in the second degree, burglary in the first degree (three counts), robbery in the first degree (three counts), and robbery in the second 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 modified, on the law, by vacating the conviction of kidnapping in the second degree, vacating the sentence imposed thereon, and dismissing that count of the indictment; as so modified, the judgment is affirmed.

         The defendant's contention that the evidence was legally insufficient to support his conviction of kidnapping in the first degree (Penal Law § 135.25[3]) is unpreserved for appellate review (see CPL 470.05[2]; People v Hawkins, 11 N.Y.3d 484, 491-492). In any event, 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 of that crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Moreover, upon our independent review pursuant to CPL 470.15(5), we are satisfied that the verdict of guilt on that count was not against the weight of the evidence (see People v Danielson, 9 N.Y.3d 342, 348; People v Romero, 7 N.Y.3d 633).

         Contrary to the People's contention, the defendant's contention that his conviction of kidnapping in the second degree is precluded by the merger doctrine is preserved for appellate review (see People v Banks, 42 A.D.3d 574, 575-576; see also People v Morales, 148 A.D.2d 325, 326-327). Moreover, the contention has merit. The merger doctrine " is intended to preclude conviction for kidnapping based on acts which are so much the part of another substantive crime that the substantive crime could not have been committed without such acts and that independent criminal responsibility may not fairly be attributed to them'" (People v Bussey, 19 N.Y.3d 231, 237, quoting People v Cassidy, 40 N.Y.2d 763, 767; see People v Hanley, 20 N.Y.3d 601, 605; People v Crosdale, 103 A.D.3d 749, 751). "[A] kidnapping is generally deemed to merge with another offense only where there is minimal asportation immediately preceding' the other crime or where the restraint and underlying crime are essentially simultaneous'" (People v Hanley, 20 N.Y.3d at 606, quoting People v Gonzalez, 80 N.Y.2d 146, 153). Here, the defendant's restraint of the victim and commission of the underlying crimes of burglary in the first degree and robbery in the first and second degrees were essentially simultaneous. Contrary to the People's contention, the manner in which the victim was restrained did not preclude application of the merger doctrine (cf. People v Gonzalez, 80 N.Y.2d at 153; People v Rivera, 41 A.D.3d 740, 741; People v Esposito, 135 A.D.2d 727). Accordingly, we vacate the defendant's conviction of kidnapping in the second degree and the sentence imposed thereon, and dismiss that count of the indictment (see People v Garnes, 127 A.D.3d 1104, 1105; People v McFarlane, 106 A.D.3d 836; People v Alston, 279 A.D.2d 583, 584).

         The defendant contends that the hearing court erred in denying that branch of his omnibus motion which was to suppress his statements to law enforcement officials because there was insufficient attenuation between his statements and police conduct found by the hearing court to violate Payton v New York (445 U.S. 573). Contrary to the People's contention, the defendant's contention is preserved for appellate review, as the record establishes that the Supreme Court expressly decided the issue (see CPL 470.05[2]; People v Lugg, 124 A.D.3d 679, 679; People v Loper, 115 A.D.3d 875, 878). However, the contention is without merit. The Fourth Amendment bars a warrantless arrest in a suspect's home, absent exigent circumstances or consent (see Payton v New York, 445 U.S. 573; People v Mitchell, 126 A.D.3d 1010, 1010). Under the New York State Constitution, "statements obtained from an accused following a Payton violation must be suppressed unless the taint resulting from the violation has been attenuated" (People v Harris, 77 N.Y.2d 434, 437). Whether there is sufficient attenuation depends on the temporal proximity of the police misconduct and the defendant's statement, whether there were intervening circumstances, and the purpose and flagrancy of the police misconduct (see People v Bradford, 15 N.Y.3d 329, 333; People v Harris, 77 N.Y.2d at 441; People v Small, 110 A.D.3d 1138, 1140). The People have the burden of proving the applicability of the attenuation exception (see People v Small, 110 A.D.3d at 1141).

         Here, the People met their burden. Approximately 9½ hours elapsed after the defendant was arrested in his home by a police officer in Reading, Pennsylvania, before he was interrogated by New York detectives. Moreover, the defendant was given Miranda warnings (see Miranda v Arizona, 384 U.S. 436), signed a Miranda card, and agreed to speak with the detectives before making oral and written statements. Moreover, the fact that the defendant was taken into custody only after the arresting officer learned that he was wanted for a homicide in New York was a significant intervening event that served to break the causal connection between the conduct by the arresting officer that the hearing court found to be improper and the defendant's subsequent statements (cf. People v Harris, 77 N.Y.2d at 441). The evidence does not indicate that the arresting officer's conduct was motivated by bad faith or a nefarious police purpose (see People v Bradford, 15 N.Y.3d at 334). Accordingly, the hearing court properly determined that there was sufficient attenuation between the defendant's statements and the police conduct found to be improper.

         The defendant also contends, for the first time on appeal, that his statements to law enforcement officials should be suppressed because they may have been obtained in violation of his constitutional right to counsel. Contrary to the People's contention, "[a]n alleged deprivation of the constitutional right to counsel may be raised on appeal, irrespective of whether such claim has been preserved for appellate review" (People v Flournoy, 303 A.D.2d 762, 762; see People v Kinchen, 60 N.Y.2d 772, 773; People v Samuels, 49 N.Y.2d 218, 221). However, we are unable to review the defendant's right to counsel claim, as the factual record underlying his claim is insufficient (see People v Flournoy, 303 A.D.2d at 762). As the People correctly contend, a CPL 440.10 proceeding is the appropriate procedural vehicle for reviewing this claim (see People v Slack, 137 A.D.3d 1568, 1571).

         In light of our determination vacating the defendant's conviction of kidnapping in the second degree and the sentence imposed thereon, which was imposed consecutively to the sentence imposed on the defendant's remaining convictions, the sentence imposed on the ...


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