People v. Anthony

Decision Date28 May 1969
Citation24 N.Y.2d 696,249 N.E.2d 747,301 N.Y.S.2d 961
Parties, 249 N.E.2d 747 The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Kazle Roscoe ANTHONY and Reginald Stephen Batten, Also Known as David White, Appellants.
CourtNew York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals

Philip Vitello and Frank Serri, New York City, for Kazle Roscoe Anthony, appellant.

Anthony G. DiFalco, New York City, for Reginald Stephen Batten, appellant.

Eugene Gold, Dist. Atty. (Aaron Nussbaum, Asst. Dist. Atty., Brooklyn, of counsel), for respondent.

BURKE, Judge.

On the night of March 27, 1965, three butchers were shot to death in the Spring Valley Meat Market in Brooklyn. At about 1:00 A.M. on March 28, the bodies of the three victims were found in a walk-in refrigerator in the rear of the market. During the course of the police investigation which followed the discovery of the bodies, one Carl Gilbert, an employee of the meat market, told the police that defendant Kazle Anthony had been a coemployee and that, about a month earlier, Anthony had fired a practice shot from a gun in the rear yard of the market and that he, Gilbert, had heard something fall to the ground immediately after the shot was fired.

Upon initial questioning by the police, Anthony admitted ownership of a .32 caliber gun and that he had attempted to buy ammunition for it. He also admitted having fired the shot about which Gilbert had told the police. Anthony subsequently told the police that he had thrown the gun away, but later changed his statement and said that he had sold the gun for $35 to an unknown man on March 27, the night of the murders.

Ballistics testing of the slugs taken from the bodies of the victims indicated that they had been fired from the same gun and a spent shell which was found in the rear yard of the meat market was fired from the same gun as other shells found at the scene of the shootings. These facts led the police to believe that the murders had been committed with the gun which Anthony had admitted firing in the presence of Gilbert. Anthony was taken into custody at 4:00 P.M. on March 31 and was interrogated until about 4:00 A.M. the next morning. At that time, Anthony made a statement in which he admitted that he had murdered the three men in the meat market by leading them into the refrigerator at the end of their business day and then shooting each of them twice in the head. The questioning continued until about 9:00 A.M. that morning, at which time Anthony implicated defendant Reginald Batten in the planning and commission of the crime. Anthony's statement was stenographically transcribed at the District Attorney's office about an hour later.

Defendant Batten was questioned in the police precinct at about 7:00 A.M. on April 1 and stated that he knew Anthony and had seen him on the afternoon of the day on which the murders took place but that he did not see Anthony again until the night after the murder. A short time later, Batten stated that he had seen Anthony on the night of the murder and that, while sharing a bottle of Southern Comfort, Anthony stated that 'they' were 'going to pull a job' at the meat market. Batten stated that he told them (Anthony and his brother) that they were 'fools' and that he wanted no part of it and left. He then stated that he next saw Anthony at about 1:00 A.M. on March 28 at which time Anthony gave him money to hold for him. Batten told the police where the money was and that he 'figured' that it had come from the meat market.

Both defendants challenged the voluntariness of their statements to the police and the assistant district attorney and a Huntley hearing was held at which the police officers, an assistant district attorney and the defendants themselves testified. The usual issues of physical mistreatment, abuse and coercion were controverted by the testimony. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court held that the statements had been made voluntarily and specifically found that the prosecution's testimony was 'trustworthy, creditable and believable' and that the testimony offered by the defendants was 'unbelievable and a fabrication concocted to meet the pending issues'.

The defendants were tried jointly and substantially the same evidence as was introduced at the Huntley hearing was introduced at the trial except that defendant Anthony did not take the stand. At the conclusion of the trial the court charged the jury on voluntariness and also charged that, if the jury found that the statements were involuntary, both of the defendants must be acquitted. The jury returned verdicts against both of the defendants finding them guilty of murder in the first degree and each has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Initially, defendant Anthony contends that his confession was inadmissible since, according to Anthony, the 'undisputed facts' establish that it was involuntary. The voluntariness of a statement is, however, essentially a factual matter and the findings of the court at the Huntley hearing and of the trial jury, when affirmed by the Appellate Division, 29 A.D.2d 916, 289 N.Y.S.2d 397, cannot be disturbed on appeal unless they can be characterized as incredible as a matter of law or unless the inferences drawn from conflicting testimony are not supported by sufficient evidence in the record (People v. Baker, 23 N.Y.2d 307, 319, 296 N.Y.S.2d 745, 751, 244 N.E.2d 232, 236; People v. Boone, 22 N.Y.2d 476, 483, 293 N.Y.S.2d 287, 292, 239 N.E.2d 885, 888). The record in this case contains sufficient evidence upon which to predicate the conclusion that the statements were voluntarily made by Anthony and there is, therefore, no merit to Anthony's contentions to the contrary.

Anthony also contends that he was prejudiced by virtue of his being tried jointly with Batten because of the fact that Batten made statements which tended to implicate Anthony in the planning and commission of the crimes charged. This contention is premised upon the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123, 88 S.Ct. 1620, 20 L.Ed.2d 476 in which it was held that it is a denial of a defendant's Sixth Amendment right of confrontation to admit, at a joint...

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73 cases
  • United States ex rel. Pugach v. Mancusi
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York
    • March 12, 1970
    ...394 U.S. 951, 89 S.Ct. 1292, 22 L.Ed.2d 486 (1969). The New York Court of Appeals also so reads Bruton, People v. Anthony, 24 N.Y.2d 696, 301 N.Y.S.2d 961, 249 N.E.2d 747 (1969). Furthermore, other circuits, including the Second, have indicated in analogous circumstances that the logic of B......
  • People v. Konigsberg
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    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
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    ...evidence, we conclude that the challenged remarks are nothing more than fair comment on the evidence ( see, People v. Anthony, 24 N.Y.2d 696, 301 N.Y.S.2d 961, 249 N.E.2d 747), neither bolstering prosecution witnesses nor denigrating the Nor was the prosecutor's use of the terms "hired kill......
  • People v. Cruz
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    • New York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • October 17, 1985
    ...admissibility was determined by the court, credibility was a question for the jury (People v. Woodward, supra; People v. Anthony, 24 N.Y.2d 696, 301 N.Y.S.2d 961, 249 N.E.2d 747; United States ex rel. Dukes v. Wallack, 414 F.2d 246, 247 United States ex rel. Catanzaro v. Mancusi, 404 F.2d 2......
  • Carey v. State
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
    • June 17, 1970
    ...trial is that both appellants testified at the trial and an opportunity for cross-examination was afforded. See People v. Anthony, 24 N.Y.2d 696, 301 N.Y.S.2d 961, 249 N.E.2d 747; State v. Fox, 274 N.C. 277, 163 S.E.2d 492; People v. Ross, 41 Ill.2d 445, 244 N.E.2d 608. In Bruton there was ......
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  • 16.16 - A. The Bruton
    • United States
    • New York State Bar Association NY Criminal Practice Chapter 16 Evidentiary Issues and Objections
    • Invalid date
    ...118 (1978).[2245] . U.S. Const. amend. VI.[2246] . People v. Wheatman, 31 N.Y.2d 12, 334 N.Y.S.2d 842 (1972).[2247] . People v. Anthony, 24 N.Y.2d 696, 301 N.Y.S.2d 961 (1969); People v. Burwell, 26 N.Y.2d 331, 310 N.Y.S.2d 308 (1970); People v. Griffin, 48 N.Y.2d 998, 425 N.Y.S.2d 547 (198......

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