People v. LaDuke, 111099

CourtNew York Supreme Court Appellate Division
Writing for the CourtReynolds Fitzgerald, J.
Citation204 A.D.3d 1083,166 N.Y.S.3d 697
Parties The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Robert LADUKE, Appellant.
Docket Number111099
Decision Date07 April 2022

204 A.D.3d 1083
166 N.Y.S.3d 697

The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent,
v.
Robert LADUKE, Appellant.

111099

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

Calendar Date: February 16, 2022
Decided and Entered: April 7, 2022


166 N.Y.S.3d 700

Hug Law, PLLC, Albany (Matthew C. Hug of counsel), for appellant, and appellant pro se.

P. David Soares, District Attorney, Albany (Emily Schultz of counsel), for respondent.

Before: Egan Jr., J.P., Aarons, Pritzker, Reynolds Fitzgerald and Ceresia, JJ.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Reynolds Fitzgerald, J.

204 A.D.3d 1083

Appeal from a judgment of the Supreme Court (Breslin, J.), rendered March 12, 2019 in Albany County, upon a verdict convicting defendant of the crimes of attempted assault in the first degree, reckless endangerment in the second degree, criminal mischief in the

204 A.D.3d 1084

second degree, criminal contempt in the first degree (two counts), unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle in the third degree and attempted criminal contempt in the second degree (two counts).

Defendant and the victim were involved in an intermittent romantic relationship for approximately four years. After ending the relationship, the victim went to dinner at a friend's house. When the victim left her friend's house, defendant followed her car, repeatedly struck her vehicle with his truck and caused the victim's car to go off the road, at which point the victim fled on foot. As a result of the circumstances surrounding this incident, defendant was charged by indictment with attempted assault in the first degree, reckless endangerment in the first degree, criminal mischief in the second degree, four counts of criminal contempt in the first degree, unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle in the third degree and two counts of attempted criminal contempt in the second degree. Prior to trial, Supreme Court granted the People's motion on consent to

166 N.Y.S.3d 701

dismiss two of the counts of criminal contempt in the first degree. After a jury trial, defendant was found guilty of the remaining charges, except for reckless endangerment in the first degree, for which he was found guilty of the lesser included offense of reckless endangerment in the second degree. Defendant was thereafter sentenced, as a second felony offender, to a prison term of 15 years, to be followed by five years of postrelease supervision, for his conviction of attempted assault in the first degree, a consecutive prison term of 2 to 4 years for his conviction for one of the counts of criminal contempt in the first degree and to lesser concurrent prison terms for the remaining convictions. Defendant appeals.

Defendant initially contends that the verdict for his conviction of attempted assault in the first degree was not supported by legally sufficient evidence and was against the weight of the evidence. Specifically, defendant argues that the People failed to establish that he had the requisite intent to cause the victim to suffer serious physical injury. "When conducting a legal sufficiency analysis, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the People and evaluate whether there is any valid line of reasoning and permissible inferences which could lead a rational person to the conclusion reached by the jury on the basis of the evidence at trial and as a matter of law satisfy the proof and burden requirements for every element of the crime charged" ( People v. Glover, 160 A.D.3d 1203, 1204, 74 N.Y.S.3d 822 [2018] [internal quotation marks and citations omitted]). "In contrast, a weight of the evidence review requires this Court to first determine

204 A.D.3d 1085

whether, based on all of the credible evidence, a different finding would have been unreasonable and, if not, weigh the relative probative force of conflicting testimony and the relative strength of conflicting inferences that may be drawn from the testimony to determine if the verdict is supported by the weight of the evidence" ( People v. Watson, 174 A.D.3d 1138, 1139, 105 N.Y.S.3d 199 [2019] [internal quotation marks and citations omitted], lv denied 34 N.Y.3d 955, 110 N.Y.S.3d 658, 134 N.E.3d 657 [2019] ; see People v. Warner, 194 A.D.3d 1098, 1099, 147 N.Y.S.3d 234 [2021], lv denied 37 N.Y.3d 1030, 153 N.Y.S.3d 412, 175 N.E.3d 438 [2021] ).

A person is guilty of attempted assault in the first degree when he or she attempts to cause serious physical injury to another person by means of a dangerous instrument (see Penal Law §§ 110.00, 120.10[1] ; People v. Warner, 194 A.D.3d at 1099, 147 N.Y.S.3d 234 ). A serious physical injury includes a "physical injury which creates a substantial risk of death" ( Penal Law § 10.00[10] ). A dangerous instrument means, as relevant here, "any instrument, ... including a ‘vehicle’ ..., which, under the circumstances in which it is used, ... is readily capable of causing death or other serious physical injury" ( Penal Law § 10.00[13] ). "Where the defendant is charged with an attempt crime, he or she need not succeed in causing a serious physical injury; rather, all that is required is that the defendant intended such injury and engaged in conduct directed at accomplishing that objective" ( People v. Pine, 126 A.D.3d 1112, 1114, 4 N.Y.S.3d 746 [2015] [internal quotation marks and citations omitted], lv denied 27 N.Y.3d 1004, 38 N.Y.S.3d 113, 59 N.E.3d 1225 [2016] ). "Intent may be inferred from [the] defendant's conduct and the surrounding circumstances" ( People v. Dickinson, 182 A.D.3d 783, 787, 122 N.Y.S.3d 797 [2020] [citations omitted], lv denied 35 N.Y.3d 1065, 129 N.Y.S.3d 408, 152 N.E.3d 1210 [2020] ).

166 N.Y.S.3d 702

At trial, the victim described her relationship with defendant as being fraught with domestic violence. She testified that, on the night in question, she noticed defendant's truck behind her as she was driving away from her friend's house. Almost immediately, defendant rear-ended her vehicle hard enough to jolt her forward. The victim kept driving and accelerated her vehicle in an effort to get away from defendant. However, defendant pulled up alongside her – in the oncoming lane of traffic – and hit her on the driver side of her vehicle. The impact pushed her onto the shoulder of the road. The victim continued to accelerate to try to get away from defendant, but he rear-ended her again, pushing her into the oncoming lane of traffic. The victim recalled thinking "tonight I'm going to die." The victim drove approximately 60 miles per hour in a 30 mile-per-hour zone, but defendant kept up with her. She approached an intersection, with a red light, and noticed a car coming towards

204 A.D.3d 1086

her. She navigated around the vehicle and went through the red light with defendant right behind her. When the victim drove into a gas station, defendant followed her and again rear-ended her with extreme force, pushing her vehicle through the gas station into the roadway. The victim attempted to speed away and was across the street from a local diner when defendant hit her vehicle again, sending her across the oncoming lane of traffic and off the road, where she had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting a telephone pole. She then left her car and ran across the grass screaming for help. Defendant began pursuing the victim and yelled that he was going to kill her. The victim thought that she "was not going to make it." As she ran, the victim stumbled and fell. When she looked back, defendant was approximately 5 to 10 feet from her holding something in his right hand. At that moment, a uniformed police officer yelled stop, wherein defendant turned, retreated to his truck and drove away. The victim was in shock, nauseous, shaking and vomiting, but did not go to the hospital. The next morning, she realized that she had neck and back pain, which lasted approximately three or four weeks, and she also had sustained an ankle injury.

A police officer testified that he was at the diner at the time of the incident and observed defendant's black truck "ramming" into the victim's car. The officer described the impact as consisting of such "significant force" that it caused the car to "jump" and crumble with each hit and knocked the back bumper off. The officer observed the driver of the car, who he knew to be the victim, exit her vehicle while emitting "blood curdling screams," and the driver of the truck, who he later identified as defendant, exit his vehicle chasing after her while shouting that "he was going to f* * *ing kill her." The officer further testified that he began to give chase, identified himself as a police officer and yelled stop. Defendant turned around, looked at him, changed direction and returned to his truck. Defendant shut the door, locked it and drove away while the officer attempted to grab his baton to break the window. The officer took photographs of the scene, including the damage to the victim's vehicle. Later that evening, while at the victim's residence, the officer also conducted a controlled call from the victim to defendant,...

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2 practice notes
  • People v. Casalino, 110287
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • April 7, 2022
    ...the record in its entirety, defendant received meaningful representation" ( People v. Lyons, 200 A.D.3d at 1226, 157 N.Y.S.3d 594 ; see 204 A.D.3d 1083166 N.Y.S.3d 366 People v. Caban, 5 N.Y.3d 143, 152, 800 N.Y.S.2d 70, 833 N.E.2d 213 [2005] ; People v. Porter, 184 A.D.3d 1014, 1018–1020, ......
  • Kopald v. N.Y. Pub. Serv. Comm'n, 529641
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • April 7, 2022
    ...the program rollout was completed in October 2020. According to O & R, by project end, it had installed 373,639 smart meters and spent a 166 N.Y.S.3d 697 total of $87.4 million. Although petitioner sought a stay in Supreme Court (see CPLR 7805 ), she sought no further injunctive relief afte......
2 cases
  • People v. Casalino, 110287
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • April 7, 2022
    ...the record in its entirety, defendant received meaningful representation" ( People v. Lyons, 200 A.D.3d at 1226, 157 N.Y.S.3d 594 ; see 204 A.D.3d 1083166 N.Y.S.3d 366 People v. Caban, 5 N.Y.3d 143, 152, 800 N.Y.S.2d 70, 833 N.E.2d 213 [2005] ; People v. Porter, 184 A.D.3d 1014, 1018–1020, ......
  • Kopald v. N.Y. Pub. Serv. Comm'n, 529641
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • April 7, 2022
    ...the program rollout was completed in October 2020. According to O & R, by project end, it had installed 373,639 smart meters and spent a 166 N.Y.S.3d 697 total of $87.4 million. Although petitioner sought a stay in Supreme Court (see CPLR 7805 ), she sought no further injunctive relief afte......

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