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People v. Hooks

Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

March 15, 2017

The People of the State of New York, respondent,
v.
Christopher Hooks, appellant. Ind. No. 925/12

          Lynn W. L. Fahey, New York, NY (Benjamin S. Litman of counsel), for appellant, and appellant pro se.

          Eric Gonzalez, Acting District Attorney, Brooklyn, NY (Leonard Joblove, Lori Glachman, and Daniel Berman of counsel), for respondent.

          MARK C. DILLON, J.P., LEONARD B. AUSTIN, SYLVIA O. HINDS-RADIX. JOSEPH J. MALTESE, JJ.

          DECISION & ORDER

         Appeal by the defendant from a judgment of the Supreme Court, Kings County (Del Giudice, J.), rendered August 22, 2013, convicting him of manslaughter in the first degree, upon a jury verdict, and imposing sentence.

         ORDERED that the judgment is affirmed.

         The defendant was convicted of acting in concert with an unidentified accomplice in connection with the assault and fatal shooting of his daughter's stepfather. The defendant contends that the evidence was legally insufficient, and that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence, with respect to the element of his intent to seriously injure the decedent as required for his conviction of manslaughter in the first degree (see Penal Law § 125.20[1]). Contrary to the People's contention, the defendant's legal sufficiency claim is preserved for appellate review (see People v Hawkins, 11 N.Y.3d 484, 492). Viewing the evidence adduced at trial in the light most favorable to the prosecution (see People v Contes, 60 N.Y.2d 620), the evidence was legally sufficient to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt (see People v Danielson, 9 N.Y.3d 342, 349). The jury could rationally infer from the evidence that the defendant and his accomplice shared "a community of purpose" (People v Scott, 25 N.Y.3d 1107, 1110; see People v Martinez, 30 A.D.3d 353; People v Witherspoon, 300 A.D.2d 605; People v Mejia, 297 A.D.2d 755, 756; People v Santana, 191 A.D.2d 174).

         Moreover, in fulfilling our responsibility to conduct an independent review of the weight of the evidence (see CPL 470.15[5]; People v Danielson, 9 N.Y.3d 342) we nevertheless accord great deference to the factfinder's opportunity to view the witnesses, hear the testimony, and observe demeanor (see People v Mateo, 2 N.Y.3d 383; People v Bleakley, 69 N.Y.2d 490). Upon reviewing the record here, we are satisfied that the verdict of guilt was not against the weight of the evidence (see People v Romero, 7 N.Y.3d 633; People v Rizzo, 142 A.D.3d 1187). The defendant's actions and participation in the assault on the victim, as well as the undisputed evidence that it was the defendant who had the motive for the attack, demonstrated that the defendant shared the intent to cause serious physical injury to the victim, and that he was culpable for causing the victim's death, whether it was the defendant, or his accomplice, who fired the fatal shot.

         The sentence imposed was not excessive (see People v Suitte, 90 A.D.2d 80). The defendant's contention that the sentence imposed was improperly based on the crime of which he was acquitted is unpreserved for appellate review, as the defendant did not raise this issue at the time of sentencing (see CPL 470.05[2]; People v Wingate, 142 A.D.3d 630; People v Malcolm, 131 A.D.3d 1068). In any event, the contention is without merit (see People v Hall, 46 N.Y.2d 873, 875; People v Guerrero, 129 A.D.3d 1102, 1103; People v Morgan, 27 A.D.3d 579, 580; People v Robinson, 250 A.D.2d 629). The defendant's contention that the sentence imposed improperly penalized him for exercising his right to a trial is unpreserved for appellate review and, in any event, without merit (see CPL 470.05[2]; People v Hurley, 75 N.Y.2d 887, 888).

         The contentions raised in the defendant's pro se supplemental brief are unpreserved for appellate review, and, in any event, are ...


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