PEOPLE v. LIGGINS

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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, New York.

The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Korey LIGGINS, Defendant-Appellant.

Decided: June 30, 2005

SAXE, J.P., ELLERIN, SWEENY, CATTERSON, JJ. Richard M. Greenberg, Office of the Appellate Defender, New York (Joseph M. Nursey of counsel), for appellant. Robert M. Morgenthau, District Attorney, New York (Deborah L. Morse of counsel), for respondent.

Judgments, Supreme Court, New York County (Jeffrey M. Atlas, J.), rendered November 23, 1998, convicting defendant, after a jury trial, of murder in the first degree and attempted robbery in the first degree, and sentencing him to concurrent terms of life without parole and 15 years, respectively, and order, same court and Justice, entered on or about June 23, 2004, which denied defendant's 440.20 motion to set aside the sentence, unanimously affirmed.

Under the particular circumstances presented, we find no violation of defendant's right to be present for a Sandoval (People v. Dokes, 79 N.Y.2d 656, 584 N.Y.S.2d 761, 595 N.E.2d 836 [1992] ) or Ventimiglia (People v. Spotford, 85 N.Y.2d 593, 627 N.Y.S.2d 295, 650 N.E.2d 1296 [1995] ) hearing.   The court conducted Sandoval/Ventimiglia proceedings in several stages, including a written submission by defense counsel.   We conclude that defendant's presence at the initial segment of these proceedings provided him with the opportunity for meaningful input, and that his presence was not required at the subsequent stages (see People v. Rivera, 201 A.D.2d 377, 607 N.Y.S.2d 930 [1994], lv. denied 83 N.Y.2d 875, 613 N.Y.S.2d 136, 635 N.E.2d 305 [1994];  see also People v. Garbutt, 9 A.D.3d 255, 256, 780 N.Y.S.2d 126 [2004], lv. denied 3 N.Y.3d 674, 784 N.Y.S.2d 12, 817 N.E.2d 830 [2004] ).

The court properly denied defendant's suppression motion.   There is no basis for disturbing the court's credibility determinations, which are supported by the record (see People v. Prochilo, 41 N.Y.2d 759, 761, 395 N.Y.S.2d 635, 363 N.E.2d 1380 [1977] ).   The court properly found that defendant did not make an unequivocal request for the present assistance of counsel (see People v. Hicks, 69 N.Y.2d 969, 516 N.Y.S.2d 648, 509 N.E.2d 343 [1987] ) until his second videotaped statement, at which time questioning ceased.

The record fails to support defendant's assertion that the court misconstrued the statutory scope of sentencing, and we perceive no basis for reducing the sentence.   Defendant's constitutional challenge to the sentencing scheme for murder in the first degree is unavailing (People v. Hansen, 99 N.Y.2d 339, 756 N.Y.S.2d 122, 786 N.E.2d 21 [2003] ).

Defendant's remaining contentions are unpreserved and we decline to review them in the interest of justice.   Were we to review these claims, we would reject them.