PEOPLE v. JOHN

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

The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Randall JOHN, Defendant–Appellant.

The People of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Levon Pratt, Defendant–Appellant.

Decided: November 17, 2011

GONZALEZ, P.J., TOM, CATTERSON, RICHTER, ROMÁN, JJ. Richard M. Greenberg, Office of the Appellate Defender, New York (Anastasia Heeger of counsel), for Randall John, appellant. Robert S. Dean, Center for Appellate Litigation, New York (Amanda Rolat of counsel), for Levon Pratt, appellant. Levon Pratt, appellant pro se. Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., District Attorney, New York (Christopher P. Marinelli of counsel), for respondent.

Judgments, Supreme Court, New York County (John Cataldo, J.), rendered July 9, 2009, convicting defendants, after a jury trial, of robbery in the first and robbery second degrees, criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree (two counts) and criminal possession of a marijuana in the fifth degree, and sentencing defendant John to an aggregate term of 15 years, and sentencing defendant Pratt, as a second violent felony offender, to an aggregate term of 15 years, unanimously affirmed.

The court properly declined to suppress identification testimony.   The prompt showup was part of an unbroken chain of exigent events (see People v. Serrano, 219 A.D.2d 508, 631 N.Y.S.2d 340 [1995] ).   Immediately after the robbery, the identifying witness pointed out the car in which his assailants were fleeing.   The police pursued the car, stopped it, arrested defendants, and conducted a showup.

The overall effect of the allegedly suggestive circumstances was not significantly greater than what is inherent in any showup (see People v. Gatling, 38 A.D.3d 239, 240, 831 N.Y.S.2d 157 [2007], lv. denied 9 N.Y.3d 865, 840 N.Y.S.2d 894, 872 N.E.2d 1200 [2007] ).   Even assuming that the facts relating to the showup were as the officer testified on cross-examination rather than as he testified on direct and redirect examination, the showup was not unduly suggestive.  “[T]he witness, using his common sense, could have discerned that the likely reason for the prompt arrest was that the police had located the getaway car” (People v. Stewart, 257 A.D.2d 442, 443, 683 N.Y.S.2d 522 [1999], lv. denied 93 N.Y.2d 902, 689 N.Y.S.2d 714, 711 N.E.2d 990 [1999] ), and arrested the men whom the witness had described.   Accordingly, even if the officer gave the witness unnecessary information about the circumstances of the arrest, it was information the witness would have expected.

The court's Sandoval ruling regarding defendant Pratt balanced the appropriate factors and was a proper exercise of discretion (see People v. Hayes, 97 N.Y.2d 203, 738 N.Y.S.2d 663, 764 N.E.2d 963 [2002];  People v. Walker, 83 N.Y.2d 455, 458–459, 611 N.Y.S.2d 118, 633 N.E.2d 472 [1994];  People v. Pavao, 59 N.Y.2d 282, 292, 464 N.Y.S.2d 458, 451 N.E.2d 216 [1983] ).   The court minimized any potential prejudice when it precluded almost all inquiry into the underlying facts of Pratt's prior convictions.

The other evidentiary rulings challenged by defendants were proper exercises of discretion.   In any event, any error regarding either or both rulings was harmless in light of the overwhelming evidence of guilt (see People v. Crimmins, 36 N.Y.2d 230, 367 N.Y.S.2d 213, 326 N.E.2d 787 [1975] ).

We perceive no basis for reducing the sentences.

We have considered and rejected defendant Pratt's pro se claims.