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Thomas Decision

Thomas Decision

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Published by cmwill88
Thomas Decision
Thomas Decision

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Published by: cmwill88 on Feb 20, 2014
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================================================================= This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision beforepublication in the New York Reports.-----------------------------------------------------------------No. 18  The People &c., Respondent, v.Adrian P. Thomas, Appellant. Jerome K. Frost and Ingrid Effman, for appellant.Kelly L. Egan, for respondent.Legal Aid Society; New York Law School Post ConvictionInnocence Project; American Psychological Association; InnocenceNetwork; District Attorneys Associaton of the State of New York; New York City Bar Association, amici curiae.LIPPMAN, Chief Judge:Defendant was convicted by a jury of murdering hisfour-month-old son, Matthew Thomas. The evidence considered bythe jury included a statement in which he admitted that on threeoccasions during the week preceding the infant's death he"slammed" Matthew down on a mattress just 17 inches above the- 1 -
- 2 -No. 18floor and a videotape of defendant's interrogation, near the endof which defendant, a particularly large individual,
demonstrated how he raised the infant above his head and threwhimdown with great force on the low lying mattress. The juryalso heard testimony fromthe child's treating doctors fromAlbany Medical Center, the medical examiner who performed theautopsy on Matthew, and an expert on child abuse fromBrownMedical School. These witnesses, citing radiologic and post-mortemfindings of subdural fluid collections, brain swelling andretinal hemorrhaging, as well as defendant's account of what hehad done, said that Matthew died fromintracranial injuriescaused by abusively inflicted head trauma. Although defendantargued at trial and on appeal that the proof before the jury wasinsufficient to support a verdict finding himguilty of depravedindifference murder (Penal Law § 125.25 [4])-- the theory charged-- the argument was correctly rejected. Defendant's written andvideotaped confession together with the evidence presented by theprosecution's medical experts sufficed to demonstrate thatdefendant, with depraved indifference to human life, recklesslyengaged in conduct which created a grave risk of serious physicalinjury to the four-month-old infant and thereby caused thechild's death. Although there may have been uncertainty at thetime of defendant's trial and prior appeal as to whether a one-
At the time of the events in question, defendant weighedwell over 300 pounds.- 2 -
- 3 -No. 18on-one killing of a helpless infant by an adult through theinfliction of physical abuse could qualify as depravedindifference murder, it is now settled that it can (see People vBarboni, 21 NY3d 393, 403 [2013]), rendering defendant's argumentto the contrary unavailing. That the evidence was sufficient tosupport the conviction, however, does not end the inquiry we areassigned on this appeal before us by leave of a Judge of thisCourt (19 NY3d 1105 [2012]), since there is a persisting issue olaw as to whether the jury should have had before it all theevidence it did. Inasmuch as we conclude that defendant'sinculpating statements were not demonstrably voluntary, wereverse the order of the Appellate Division affirming defendant'sconviction (93 AD3d 1019 [3d Dept 2012]), grant defendant'spreviously denied motion to suppress those statements, and directa new trial. I.On the morning of September 21, 2008, defendant's wife,Wilhelmina Hicks awoke to discover that the couple's four-month-old prematurely born infant, Matthew, was limp and unresponsive. Emergency assistance was immediately summoned and the child wasrushed to Samaritan Hospital in Troy, New York. There, hepresented with a range of symptoms, including a low white bloodcount, irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, severedehydration and respiratory failure. The most likelydifferential diagnosis was noted by the treating emergency room- 3 -

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