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People v. Chaneyfield

Supreme Court of New York, Third Department

January 4, 2018

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, Respondent,
v.
TYROME CHANEYFIELD, Appellant.

          Calendar Date: November 14, 2017

          Theodore J. Stein, Woodstock, for appellant.

          James R. Farrell, District Attorney, Monticello (Meagan K. Galligan of counsel), for respondent.

          Before: Garry, P.J., Lynch, Clark, Aarons and Pritzker, JJ.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          GARRY, P.J.

         Appeal from a judgment of the County Court of Sullivan County (LaBuda, J.), rendered September 22, 2015, upon a verdict convicting defendant of the crimes of predatory sexual assault against a child in the first degree and rape in the second degree (22 counts).

         Defendant was charged with predatory sexual assault against a child in the first degree and 22 counts of rape in the second degree arising out of sexual offenses that he committed against a victim beginning in 2008, when she was 10 years old, and continuing for a period of roughly five years. After a jury trial, he was convicted as charged and sentenced to an aggregate prison term of 32 years followed by 10 years of postrelease supervision. Defendant appeals.

         Defendant contends that his convictions are not supported by legally sufficient evidence and are against the weight of the evidence. The legal sufficiency claim is unpreserved, as defendant's general trial motion for dismissal included no arguments directed at specific deficiencies in the proof (see People v Gray, 86 N.Y.2d 10, 19-21 [1995]; People v Perillo, 144 A.D.3d 1399, 1400 [2016], lvs denied 29 N.Y.3d 948, 951 [2017]). Nevertheless, as defendant also claims that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence, this Court must determine whether each element of the charged crimes was proven beyond a reasonable doubt (see People v Danielson, 9 N.Y.3d 342, 348-349 [2007]; People v Scippio, 144 A.D.3d 1184, 1185 [2016], lv denied 28 N.Y.3d 1150');">28 N.Y.3d 1150 [2017]; People v Boehlke, 137 A.D.3d 1321, 1322 [2016]).

         The victim, who was born in April 1998, testified that she was cared for by her grandmother in early childhood because her mother suffered from AIDS. The grandmother died when the victim was three years old. Thereafter, the victim lived with another relative, and later moved in with a woman she described as her adoptive mother (hereinafter the mother). The victim described her relationship with the mother as "rocky, " saying that "[the mother would] never really pay [the victim] no mind." In July 2008, the victim's grandfather was released from prison and began residing with the mother and the victim [1]. According to the victim, the grandfather and the mother thereafter spent most of their time in the mother's bedroom with the door closed.

         Defendant, who was in his forties, was the mother's friend and was often present in the apartment. At first, the victim and defendant had a relationship that she described as close, friendly and an "uncle[-]type thing." The victim testified that defendant had sexual contact with her for the first time when she was 10 years old, shortly before the grandfather's release from prison. While the victim and defendant were sitting on a couch, defendant began rubbing the victim's back and then rubbed "towards [her] bottom." She became uncomfortable and went into her bedroom. Defendant followed, pulled down the victim's pants, and "[s]tarted jerking off" while rubbing her vagina with his fingers and putting his mouth on her vagina. The victim avoided defendant on his next visit, but did not tell the mother what had happened because defendant was "[the mother's] best friend." Defendant gave the victim candy, which she liked, and apologized to her. The victim testified that she and defendant then kissed and that "[i]t was magical.... [L]ike that was my first kiss. I was shocked, I was confused, but at the same time I was happy."

         Defendant thereafter engaged in a series of acts that made the victim "[feel] special, " and she believed him to be her boyfriend. Defendant told the victim that he was "in love with [her]" and gave her presents. He made frequent visits to the apartment, during which, as the victim described, he kissed her, placed his fingers in her vagina and performed oral sex on her, and she performed oral sex on him. The victim testified that defendant had sexual intercourse with her for the first time when she was 11 years old and, from then on, every time he visited. When the victim was 12 years old, she became pregnant, and the grandfather took her to New York City for an abortion. The victim lied about the cause of the pregnancy, claiming that she had been raped by a stranger. Police investigated, but found no evidence supporting the claim. The victim testified that she lied to protect defendant, who had told her that he would go to prison if their relationship was discovered.

         The sexual relationship continued thereafter. The victim testified that when she was 13 and 14 years old, she and defendant engaged in intercourse "[m]ultiple times" every month. A week never passed when they did not. During this period, defendant resided in the apartment for several months, while dating the mother; the victim stated that she and defendant had intercourse every day throughout this time [2]. At age 14, the victim again became pregnant. The grandfather again took her away for an abortion, and she provided another false explanation, telling her family that she had slept with a boy at a party.

         According to the victim, defendant would sometimes climb through her bedroom window; at other times, they had sex in the living room while the mother and the grandfather were in the mother's bedroom with the door closed, or, if the mother was away, in her bedroom. On Valentine's Day in 2013, defendant gave the victim chocolate, and she gave him a teddy bear and a poem that she had written. Later in February 2013, the grandfather caught defendant in the victim's bedroom. A "really big fight" ensued, and the grandfather chased defendant out of the apartment with a machete. The victim ended her relationship with defendant because she was "tired of getting in trouble."

         The victim, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, stated that she did not take her prescribed medication consistently during her relationship with defendant because he told her that she did not need it. After the victim and the mother got into a "big blow out" about the victim's medication, the victim moved in with the relative who had previously cared for her. She resumed taking her medication, and eventually told the relative and a counselor about her relationship with ...


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