PEOPLE v. SCRUGGS

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The PEOPLE, etc., respondent, v. Shantelle SCRUGGS, appellant.

Decided: November 27, 2013

LEONARD B. AUSTIN, J.P., SANDRA L. SGROI, JEFFREY A. COHEN, and SYLVIA O. HINDS–RADIX, JJ. Robert C. Mitchell, Riverhead, N.Y. (John M. Dowden of counsel), for appellant. Thomas J. Spota, District Attorney, Riverhead, N.Y. (Michael J. Miller of counsel), for respondent.

Appeal by the defendant from a judgment of the Supreme Court, Suffolk County (R. Doyle, J.), rendered June 17, 2009, convicting her of murder in the second degree, upon a jury verdict, and imposing sentence.

ORDERED that the judgment is affirmed.

The defendant's contention that the evidence was legally insufficient to support her conviction of murder in the second degree because the People failed to prove the element of intent to kill is unpreserved for appellate review (see CPL 470.05[2] ). In any event, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution (see People v. Contes, 60 N.Y.2d 620, 621), we find that it was legally sufficient to establish the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt (see People v. Pickens, 60 AD3d 699, 701; People v. Tigner, 51 AD3d 1045). Moreover, in fulfilling our responsibility to conduct an independent review of the weight of the evidence (see CPL 470.15[5]; People v. Danielson, 9 NY3d 342), we nevertheless accord great deference to the jury's opportunity to view the witnesses, hear the testimony, and observe demeanor (see People v. Mateo, 2 NY3d 383, 410, cert denied 542 U.S. 946; People v. Bleakley, 69 N.Y.2d 490, 495). Upon reviewing the record here, we are satisfied that the verdict of guilt was not against the weight of the evidence (see People v. Romero, 7 NY3d 633).

The defendant contends that the medical examiner improperly testified that the manner of death was a homicide. However, because the defendant failed to object to this testimony, this contention is unpreserved for appellate review (see CPL 470.05[2] ). In any event, any error in this regard was harmless because there was overwhelming evidence of the defendant's guilt and no significant probability that the error contributed to the defendant's conviction (see People v. Crimmins, 36 N.Y.2d 230, 242; People v. Heath, 49 AD3d 970, 973; People v. James, 123 A.D.2d 644, 645).

During the course of cross-examination of the defendant, the prosecutor improperly introduced extrinsic evidence of a prior bad act to impeach her credibility (see People v. Schwartzman, 24 N.Y.2d 241, 244, cert denied 396 U.S. 846). However, because there was overwhelming evidence of the defendant's guilt and no significant probability that the error contributed to the defendant's conviction, that error also was harmless (see People v.. Crimmins, 36 N.Y.2d at 242).

The sentence imposed was not excessive (see People v. Suitte, 90 A.D.2d 80, 83).

The defendant's remaining contentions are without merit.

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