68 A.D.2d 279, People v. Geoghegan

Citation:68 A.D.2d 279, 416 N.Y.S.2d 802
Party Name:People v. Geoghegan
Case Date:May 24, 1979
Court:New York Supreme Court Appelate Division, First Department

Page 279

68 A.D.2d 279

416 N.Y.S.2d 802

The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent,


Henry GEOGHEGAN, Defendant-Appellant.

Supreme Court of New York, First Department

May 24, 1979.

[416 N.Y.S.2d 803] Zoltan Hankovszky, New York City, for defendant-appellant.

Amyjane Rettew, New York City, of counsel (Donna Krone, New York City, with her on the brief; Robert M. Morgenthau, Dist. Atty.), for respondent.


[416 N.Y.S.2d 804] MURPHY, Presiding Judge:

Defendant Henry Geoghegan was indicted for allegedly murdering and robbing Jan DeVroom in his apartment on November 13, 1975. Although the prosecution presented its case through sixteen different witnesses, the facts essential to this appeal came through five primary witnesses, viz: Thomas Gilligan, Detective John Toone, Detective Carl Sgrizzi, Robert Kremer Hoke, and Police Officer James McCabe.

Thomas Gilligan, a purported accomplice of the defendant, cooperated with the police in the investigation and prosecution of this case. After testifying at this trial, he was later permitted to plead guilty to attempted robbery in the second degree for which he was sentenced to an indeterminate three year term of imprisonment. Gilligan's testimony as to the events surrounding DeVroom's murder will be summarized in narrative form.

DeVroom was a wealthy homosexual who, at various times, had been a friend and lover of Gilligan, Hoke and one Steven Sherman. Prior to the subject occurrence, Gilligan, Hoke and Sherman had become acquainted with the defendant and one Chris Denim. In October of 1975, Gilligan, Hoke, Sherman, the defendant, the defendant's brother (James) and possibly Denim were present at the same party. They had a general discussion about making easy money, by such means as robbing DeVroom.

On November 13, 1975, at about 3:30 p. m., the defendant, Denim, Sherman and Gilligan met and decided that they were going to steal money from DeVroom by falsely telling him that they needed cash to bail Sherman from jail. If that ploy failed, the four individuals agreed that they would then rob DeVroom. During this discussion, Denim and Sherman were playing with knives. One knife was similar to a stilletto; the other was wider with a wooden handle and brass decorations.

The four individuals arrived at DeVroom's building later that afternoon. Denim and the defendant immediately went up to his apartment; Sherman and Gilligan waited downstairs in the vestibule. After several minutes, Sherman and Gilligan proceeded to the apartment and discovered that the decedent had been stabbed to death. Defendant was standing over the body with the wooden-handled knife. Defendant threatened to kill Gilligan, as he had killed the decedent, unless Gilligan opened a file cabinet containing valuables. Gilligan opened the file cabinet and, shortly thereafter, he fled from the building.

Gilligan walked about fifteen blocks to the apartment of defendant's girlfriend. By that time, the other three individuals had already arrived by cab. Gilligan noticed some personal items of the decedent in the apartment. Later that evening, Sherman, Denim and Gilligan went to the apartment of defendant's brother. Hoke, whose apartment was on a lower floor in the building, entered James Geoghegan's apartment for a short period to install a plant light. Thereafter, Sherman, Denim, Gilligan, the defendant and his brother James went to Dave Stewart's apartment. Two female prostitutes were also present in Stewart's apartment. At that time, defendant and Denim sold decedent's watch to Stewart. Gilligan was eventually arrested on December 3, 1975. In addition to giving the foregoing testimony, Gilligan identified a knife that he had purchased a few days before trial. He stated that this knife was similar to the one used by the defendant in the murder. Over objection, the trial Court received the knife into evidence.

Sherman and the defendant were arrested by Detectives Toone and Sgrizzi in the early morning hours of December 4, 1975. Sherman jumped bail during this trial. When he was finally apprehended, Sherman refused to testify for the prosecution. The trial Court permitted Detectives Toone and Sgrizzi to testify to the extrajudicial statements made in the station house by Sherman after his capture. Sherman gave the Detectives the same basic account of the occurrence as Gilligan gave at trial. The Detectives' testimony at trial was, with one exception, in redacted form. Any references to the defendant were deleted and the word "another" was substituted therefor. [416 N.Y.S.2d 805] The exception, alluded to above, occurred during the testimony of Detective Toone. The latter testified, without objection from defense...

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