People v. Stewart, 2021-33149

CourtNew York County Court
Writing for the CourtDAVID S. ZUCKERMAN JUDGE
Docket Number2021-33149,Ind. 2018-1251
PartiesTHE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK v. LATONIA SHELECIA STEWART, Defendant.
Decision Date05 October 2021

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
v.

LATONIA SHELECIA STEWART, Defendant.

No. 2021-33149

Ind. No. 2018-1251

County Court, Westchester County

October 5, 2021


Unpublished Opinion

ANTHONY MATTEST, ESQ.

Attorney for Defendant

HON. MIRIAM E. ROCAH

District Attorney, Westchester County

Assistant District Attorney

DECISION & ORDER

DAVID S. ZUCKERMAN JUDGE

Defendant stands accused under Indictment No. Ind. No. 2018-1251 of six counts of Burglary in the Second Degree {Penal Law §140.25[2]), four counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (Penal Law §155.35(1]), Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree (Penal Law §155.30[1]), Petit Larceny (Penal Law §155.25), five counts of Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree (Penal Law §14 5.00[]), Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree (Penal Law §165.50]), Possession of Burglar's Tools (Penal Law §140.35), Unregistered Motor Vehicle (Vehicle and Traffic Law §401[l]a), Improper Number Plates (Vehicle and Traffic Law §402 [4]), and Unrestrained Back Seat Child Less Than Four Years Old (Vehicle and Traffic Law §1229-C[1]a).

As set forth in the Indictment, it is alleged that, on or about December 20, 2017, February 12, 2018, February 17, 2018, February 22, 2018, April 16, 2018, April 30, 2018, and May 1, 2018, in Westchester County, the defendant entered or remained unlawfully into several premises, with the intent to commit crimes therein; stole property belonging to other persons; possessed stolen

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property; caused damage to property belonging to other persons, and possessed burglars tools. As further set forth in the Indictment, it is also alleged that, on or about May 1, 2018, Defendant, in Westchester County, operated an unregistered motor vehicle and with said vehicle possessing improper number plates, and had a child under four riding in the back seat while not properly restrained.

On October 1, 2021, this Court conducted a Mapp/Dunaway[1]hearing to determine the admissibility of physical evidence allegedly seized from the defendant by law enforcement officers. The People initially called two witnesses: Greenburgh Police Detective Davey Jakasal (hereinafter ``Det. Jakasal") and Greenburgh Police Detective Edward DeVito (hereinafter ``Det. DeVito") during the morning portion of the hearing[2]. The People then rested and both sides delivered arguments on the motion. In the afternoon session, the court granted the People's motion to reopen the hearing whereupon the People called Greenburgh Police Detective Edgar DeMillo (hereinafter ``Det. DeMillo") . Thereafter, the People rested again and, after further argument, the court reserved decision on the motion. The court finds the testimony of the People's three witnesses (Defendant did not present any witnesses at the hearing) credible to the extent noted below.

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FINDINGS OF FACT

On May 1, 2018, at about 9:45 a.m., Det. Jakasal and Greenburgh Police Department Detective Shaw were parked in a vehicle in the area of 501 Watch Hill Road, Greenburgh, New York (hereinafter "the subject premises") . They were there pursuant to an investigation into a burglary pattern in which residences where burglarized while the occupants' funerals took place (also known as funeral burglaries). The funeral of Robert Sorentino, the owner of the subject premises, was taking place on May 1, 2018 while the two detectives and other law enforcement officers (hereinafter, "the surveillance team") surveiled the area of the subject premises in unmarked cars and in plain clothes.

The surveillance team was looking, in particular, for a silver Acura Model MDX automobile, bearing a distinctive dent on the driver's-side (hereinafter "the Acura MDX"). The Acura MDX had been identified in an intelligence bulletin put out by the New York State Police as being involved in a recent Cortland funeral burglary. Det. Jakasal had also observed a video and video still shots from the Cortland funeral burglary. They displayed the Acura MDX with a distinctive dent on the driver's side being operated in the vicinity of the Cortland funeral burglary and showed a female exiting the Acura MDX and approaching that residence. Det. Jakasal was also aware that a neighbor in the area of a recent Greenburgh funeral burglary had observed a silver Acura SUV near that crime scene.

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At 12:21 p.m. on that date, Det. Shaw radioed to the surveillance team that the silver Acura MDX was heading toward the surveillance area. Det. Jakasal observed the Acura MDX, driven by a female, slowly roll to a stop in front of the subject premises. Across the street, two neighbors were outside talking. Det. Jakasal observed that, although the Acura MDX had what appeared to be a proper rear license plate, it did not display a proper license plate in front; instead, displaying a vanity plate with the name "Shelly." The vehicle continued past the subject premises to the end of Watch Hill Road where it turned around and made another slow rolling stop in front of the subject premises. At that time, Det. Jakasal also observed the distinctive dent on the driver's-side door of the Acura MDX.

The vehicle then left the area and parked in front of 601 Old White Plains Road where the female driver began to look at her cell phone. At that time, Det. Jakasal radioed his dispatcher to "run" the Acura MDX front license plate and was advised that it was "not on file," which he understood to mean that the car was not registered. He then observed the Acura MDX proceed on Old White Plains Road towards...

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