Tuesday, February 26, 2013

People v. Casassa case brief

People v. Casassa case brief summary
49 N.Y.2d 668

SYNOPSIS: Defendant challenged a judgment of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the Second Judicial Department (New York) that affirmed his conviction of murder in the second degree following a non-jury trial.

OVERVIEW: Defendant's former girlfriend was murdered. Defendant agreed to be interviewed by the police. He was advised of his Miranda rights, which he waived, and in the course of the interview, he confessed to the killing. At the time of the interview, his mother was trying to locate him, and when she learned that he was at the police station, she sent an attorney to speak to him. At trial, defendant raised the affirmative defense of extreme emotional disturbance under N.Y. Penal Law § 125(1)(a).

The court found that defendant's emotional reaction at the time of the commission of the crime was so peculiar to him that under the statute, it could not be considered reasonable so as to reduce the conviction to manslaughter in the first degree. Accordingly, the trial court found him guilty of murder in the second degree. The appellate division affirmed. Upon further review, the court also affirmed.

The court held that the statute was properly applied, that the confessions were voluntary, and that his mother's unsuccessful attempts to contact him did not deny defendant his right to counsel.

OUTCOME: The court affirmed defendant's conviction of murder in the second degree because defendant's reaction to the circumstances of the case were not reasonable and did not justify a reduction of the charge to manslaughter in the first degree. The court also held that defendant's right to counsel was not violated merely because his mother attempted to send an attorney to speak with him during his interview with the police.
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