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People v. Mairena

Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

May 31, 2017

The People of the State of New York, respondent,
v.
David Mairena, appellant. Ind. No. 3078/13

          Lynn W. L. Fahey, New York, NY (Michael Arthus of counsel), for appellant.

          Eric Gonzalez, Acting District Attorney, Brooklyn, NY (Leonard Joblove and Thomas M. Ross of counsel), for respondent.

          WILLIAM F. MASTRO, J.P., SANDRA L. SGROI, HECTOR D. LASALLE, FRANCESCA E. CONNOLLY, JJ.

          DECISION & ORDER

         Appeal by the defendant from a judgment of the Supreme Court, Kings County (Mangano, Jr., J.), rendered July 24, 2015, convicting him of manslaughter in the first degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, upon a jury verdict, and imposing sentence.

         ORDERED that the judgment is affirmed.

         The defendant's challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence is unpreserved for appellate review (see CPL 470.05[2]; People v Hawkins, 11 N.Y.3d 484, 492). In any event, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution (see People v Contes, 60 N.Y.2d 620), the defendant's contention that the People failed to disprove his justification defense beyond a reasonable doubt is without merit. The evidence adduced at trial established that the defendant stabbed the decedent with a box cutter, which caused the decedent to bleed to death. Though the decedent was armed with a machete earlier in the parties' altercation, he was no longer carrying the machete at the time the defendant stabbed him. Moreover, there was no testimony that the defendant saw the decedent brandishing the machete immediately before he approached the decedent to stab him. Rather, the evidence indicates that the decedent had walked away from the defendant after their initial altercation, that the decedent had abandoned his machete at that point, and that the defendant could have retreated from the situation by also walking away. Viewing this evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution (see id.), we find that it was legally sufficient to establish the elements of manslaughter in the first degree and to disprove the defense of justification beyond a reasonable doubt (see People v Clarke, 11 A.D.3d 554; People v Littlejohn, 307 A.D.2d 976, 976; People v Hall, 220 A.D.2d 615). 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 jury's opportunity to view the witnesses, hear the testimony, and observe demeanor (see People v Mateo, 2 N.Y.3d 383, 410; People v Bleakley, 69 N.Y.2d 490, 495). 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).

         Contrary to the defendant's contention, the Supreme Court's charge, when viewed as a whole, properly instructed the jury as to the defense of justification, and was a correct statement of the law (see People v Fields, 87 N.Y.2d 821, 823; People v Bogan, 78 A.D.3d 855, 855-856).

         Finally, the defendant's contention that the prosecutor's summation remarks constituted reversible error because he allegedly vouched for the credibility of witnesses, made inflammatory comments, misled the jury about the evidence, and denigrated the defense is unpreserved for appellate review. The defendant made only a general objection, failed to request curative instructions, and did not timely move for a mistrial on this ground (see CPL 470.05[2]; People v Balls,69 N.Y.2d 641, 642; People v Salnave,41 A.D.3d 872, 874). In any event, the comments alleged to be prejudicial were either fair comment on the evidence (see People v Ashwal,39 N.Y.2d 105), responsive to arguments and theories presented in the defense summation (see People v Galloway,54 N.Y.2d 396), or harmless in light of the overwhelming evidence of the defendant's guilt (see People v Crimmins, 36 N.Y.2d 230, 241-242; People v Hill,286 A.D.2d 777, 778). Moreover, the prosecutor's summation comments that the defendant's ...


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