Conviction Overturned Because of Improperly Admitted Rikers Calls
Appellant Matthew Robinson was convicted of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree in connection with an incident that occurred on September 20, 2014. Over appellant's objections, the trial court allowed the People to introduce into evidence recordings of telephone calls made by the defendant in May and June 2015, while he was detained at Rikers Island following a subsequent arrest, on May 20, 2015, for an unrelated gun possession charge.
In holding that the calls were improperly admitted, the Second Department observed that their "timing and content" made it "highly unlikely that [appellant] was referencing his September 2014 arrest for the instant offense, rather than his subsequent arrest on the unrelated gun possession charge." Furthermore, the Court stated, "the jury was unaware of the defendant’s subsequent May 2015 arrest," and "there was a substantial risk that the jury would be misled into believing that the defendant’s admissions in the telephone recordings referred to the instant offense." Accordingly, the Second Department reversed appellant's conviction and ordered a new trial.
Sean H. Murray briefed and argued the case on behalf of Appellate Advocates.