PEOPLE v. BLAIR

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The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Leslie BLAIR, also known as Jahman, also known as Dred, Defendant–Appellant.

Decided: April 20, 2012

PRESENT: SCUDDER, P.J., SMITH, CARNI, AND SCONIERS, JJ. Timothy P. Donaher, Public Defender, Rochester (James Eckert of Counsel), for Defendant–Appellant. Michael C. Green, District Attorney, Rochester (Nancy Gilligan of Counsel), for Respondent.

Defendant appeals from a judgment convicting him, upon a jury verdict, of murder in the second degree (Penal Law § 125.25[3] ). Defendant contends that Supreme Court improperly questioned him when he testified on his own behalf and that he was deprived of a fair trial thereby. Defendant failed to preserve that contention for our review (see People v. Charleston, 56 N.Y.2d 886, 887). We conclude, in any event, that defendant's contention is without merit. Indeed, the court properly acted within its power “to encourage clarity ․ in the development of proof,” without giving any impression with respect to its own view of “the credibility of the testimony of any witness or the merits of any issue in the case” (People v. Moulton, 43 N.Y.2d 944, 945; see People v. Arnold, 98 N.Y.2d 63, 67–68). Defendant further contends that the court abused its discretion in overruling defense counsel's objection concerning the scope of the redirect examination of a witness by the People. That contention lacks merit, inasmuch as defendant opened the door to the redirect examination by only partially exploring on cross-examination the issue whether the witness and defendant had engaged in criminal activity together in the past, rendering further examination and clarification on that issue appropriate (see People v. Massie, 2 NY3d 179, 183–184; People v. Melendez, 55 N.Y.2d 445, 451; People v. Alvie J., 286 A.D.2d 930, 931).

Finally, defendant failed to preserve for our review his contention concerning the allegedly improper introduction of evidence of prior bad acts committed by him. In any event, we conclude that any error in the admission of that evidence is harmless (see generally People v. Crimmins, 36 N.Y.2d 230, 241–242). The evidence of defendant's guilt in assisting in the murder is overwhelming, and there is no significant probability that defendant otherwise would have been acquitted (see id.; People v. Orbaker, 302 A.D.2d 977, 977–978, lv denied 100 N.Y.2d 541). The overwhelming evidence included the scar from a gunshot wound in the webbing between defendant's thumb and forefinger, the gunshot wound to the right front of the victim's neck, and defendant's admission to an acquaintance following the shooting that he was holding down the victim when the gun wielded by another participant discharged (see generally People v. Breland, 83 N.Y.2d 286, 292–293).

It is hereby ORDERED that the judgment so appealed from is unanimously affirmed.

MEMORANDUM: