People v. Lee

Decision Date22 February 1968
Citation29 A.D.2d 837,287 N.Y.S.2d 607
PartiesPEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Rufus LEE, Jr., Appellant.
CourtNew York Supreme Court — Appellate Division

Paul Ivan Birzon, Buffalo, for appellant.

Michael F. Dillon, L. G. Foschio, Buffalo, for respondent.



The jury rejected the defense of not guilty by reason of insanity and returned a verdict of murder in the first degree. A hearing had been held before trial to confirm the report of the two court appointed psychiatrists, pursuant to Code of Criminal Procedure, § 658, who found defendant capable of standing trial. A substantial part of the trial testimony as to defendant's mental condition indicated that he had been physically and mentally ill for a large part of his life. He had suffered eqileptic seizures, peptic ulcers, alcoholism, experienced hallucinations over a long period of time and reacted to paranoid ideas or delusions. Three well accredited psychiatrists testified for the defense after a thorough examination of defendant and hospital records from various Veterans' hospitals where he had been treated for mental illness. The three psychiatrists all found defendant to be a schizophrenic psychosis paranoid type. The only countervailing proof offered by the People was the testimony of a psychiatrist who was retained on the morning of the day he testified. He admitted that he had never examined the defendant, that he had spent thirty minutes reading hospital records and that defendant might have had 'an irresistible compulsion' because of mental illness and his capacity to appreciate would be limited and 'would be clearly impaired'. He testified further that defendant did not have substantial capacity according to normal mental health standards. Notwithstanding this testimony this witness, in reply to a hypothetical question, stated that defendant would know the nature and consequences of his acts and would know that they were wrong. The trial court properly denied defendant's motion for a directed verdict on the grounds of insanity, for the question of defendant's capacity for understanding was a question of fact for the jury (People v. Wood, 12 N.Y.2d 69, 77, 236 N.Y.S.2d 44, 51, 187 N.E.2d 116, 121; People v. Horton, 308 N.Y. 1, 12, 123 N.E.2d 609, 614). The People failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant possessed substantial capacity to know or appreciate his...

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8 cases
  • Lee v. County Court of Erie County
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • January 14, 1971
    ...not proven sanity beyond a reasonable doubt and for the further reason that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence (29 A.D.2d 837, 287 N.Y.S.2d 607). 2 Lee again pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and in preparation for the new trial, the District Attorney's motion for a m......
  • Cheney v. State
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma
    • December 8, 1995
    ...Ex parte Turner, 455 So.2d 910 (Ala.1984), the evidence of insanity was substantially undisputed by the State. In People v. Lee, 29 A.D.2d 837, 287 N.Y.S.2d 607 (N.Y.App.1968), the court found one answer to one hypothetical--which contradicted the otherwise unrefuted testimony of three expe......
  • Miller, Application of
    • United States
    • New York County Court
    • December 27, 1972
    ...of the uncontroverted medical testimony, to deliver a verdict of acquittal by reason of insanity. (Penal Law, § 30.05; People v. Lee, 29 A.D.2d 837, 287 N.Y.S.2d 607; People v. Slaughter, 34 A.D.2d 50, 311 N.Y.S.2d 87). I then, also as required by law, ordered that the defendant be delivere......
  • People v. Slaughter
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
    • April 9, 1970
    ...that the finding on this issue, implicit in the verdict of the trial court, was against the weight of the evidence. (Cf. People v. Lee, 29 A.D.2d 837, 287 N.Y.S.2d 607). A new trial is mandated because the verdict was against the weight of the evidence and in the interest of justice. (Code ......
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