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Mineccia Verdict

Let me turn now to the evidence.

The evidence was largely undisputed; what is disputed are the inferences to be drawn
from the evidence.

On Christmas Eve, December 24, 2014 the defendant called 911 and in a distraught and
emotionally-laden voice told the operator that he had come home to find his girlfriend and
mother of his 18-month old child Nicole Grana slumped over in a bathtub and unconscious. He
further related that he had attempted mouth to mouth resuscitation but blood began coming out
of her mouth, prompting him to call 911. He gives his address, 32 Camomile Lane, Town of

As first responders and law enforcement personnel respond to the scene, the defendant is
asked several times by different personnel, including several police officers, what happened

In the relative calm of his partially finished basement, surrounded by toys and holding his
son for at least part of the time, he repeated the essential details of his story. His statements were
entirely voluntary. No coercion whatsoever was used to get him to speak, and the interest of law
enforcement was genuinely directed toward what had caused a 24-year-old woman to suddenly
die while she was taking a bath.

He related how he had gone out to buy lottery tickets, came home, left again to buy hair
gel at a nearby CVS drugstore, and returned home to find the bathroom door locked. Not seeing
his girlfriend or his son, he assumed they were in there and she wasnt responding because she
had been mad at him for some reason related to how long it took him to get home. After 15-20
minutes he continued to receive no response from his girlfriend so he picked the lock with a
paper clip. He entered the bathroom to find his girlfriend in the bathtub, which was full of water,
and her head slumped over, with their son between her knees.
He said picked her up out of the tub, and put her on a couch and attempted to revive her,
finally calling 911 when he realized he was unable to do so.

In one slightly different narration he added that he heard his son crying or screaming in
the bathtub.

In another he stated that his girlfriend was outside the tub, with her head slumped over
the tub.

In yet another narrative he added the detail that he had been at the CVS store at around
5:30 to get hair gel, and was back home at around 6:00. This scenario would put the call to 911
only a few minutes after he had discovered the body. However, a bag from a CVS drugstore was
observed on the kitchen counter, and the bag contained a receipt showing a purchase of hair gel,
which purchase occurred at 4:39 p.m. A security video of the defendant at the store is consistent
with the time on the receipt. The travel time to the CVS from 32 Camomile Lane was estimated
to be about 5-10 minutes.

This is also consistent with testimony from a neighbor, who saw a grey vehicle, which
was similar to the vehicle identified as defendants, pull into the garage at around 4:30, leave
again a short time later. The neighbor also said that she went inside her house at around 4:45 and
did not see the grey car return.

At one point in his conversations with law enforcement defendant added that his
girlfriend had consumed four beers that day, and in fact, an autopsy revealed her blood alcohol
content to be .08% of weight.

Eventually defendant was asked to go back to the Greece Police station to speak with
investigators, which he freely and voluntarily did.
There, in a conversation with Greece Police investigators Casey Voekl and Joseph
Hopper that can be characterized as relaxed and even polite, with none of the emotion that the
defendant had displayed on the 911 call, the defendant repeated the story he had given to officers
in his basement.

The investigators mentioned to the defendant that they or other officers had seen vomit
on the driveway and in the garage with tire tracks through some of it. Then and only then does
defendant admit that after taking Nicole out of the tub, he put her in his car, and, with their son in
the back seat, drove a short distance intending to go to the nearby hospital. When she exhibited
what he believed were signs that she was reviving or still alive, he drove back home, carried her
body out of the car and back into the house.

After questioning the defendant for a couple of hours, the investigators ask him to
consent to a search of the residence at 32 Camomile, to which he readily agrees. He is then left
alone in the interview room. He sleeps for several hours, having been given a blanket and an
extra chair on which to prop his legs. The investigators return, and shortly upon resuming their
questions, the defendant admits, under no threat or use of force or coercion, to having bought
heroin from a random dealer on Lyell avenue. He said consumed some of the heroin in the car
immediately after purchasing it, drove home, went inside, and cut two lines on the counter of the
bathroom sink, one for himself, which he consumed, and one for Nicole, who he knew had also
recently consumed four beers. He disposed of the bags in which the heroin was packaged by
flushing them down the toilet. He admitted that he purchased the heroin at around 4:30, went
home, cut the two lines, did one, and then left for the CVS.

That time sequence is also consistent with the testimony of Nicole Granas father, who said that
he spoke with his daughter at 4;34, and at that time heard the water running.

Assuming that the defendant returned from the CVS at 4:50, and assuming the truth of his
statement that he discovered his girlfriends body about 15 minutes after arriving back home, and
that he called 911 at 6:15, approximately one hour and 10 minutes transpired from his discovery
of her body to the time he called 911.

At the time the defendant discovered his girlfriends body in the bathtub she was likely
dead. The undisputed testimony of the medical examiner established that the victim died from
the consumption of heroin that contained a lethal amount of fentanyl. Death she said was acute,
that is, it occurred within a short time of ingestion, judging from the relative lack of metabolized
fentanyl and heroin in her system and occurred no more than thirty minutes from consumption,
and probably less, considering that the alcohol in her system acted as an additive.

The Court accepts as true that the defendant put his girlfriend in his car and drove for a
time, but for how long is not known. It can be reasonably inferred however, that his purpose, his
intent, was to suppress evidence, for the following reasons:

- He lies repeatedly and extensively about the essential detail of the story, that
he had provided heroin to his girlfriend, the mother of his child, even to first
responders, who he might have thought would have been able to revive her if
they knew what had caused her to pass out.

- His original story that he had driven only a short distance intending to go to
the hospital and turned around when he believed Ms. Grana was reviving, is
entirely self-serving and lacking in credibility. According to the medical
examiner, she was dead within 30 minutes of ingestion, probably less. Even if
he was honestly mistaken as to her condition, she was still obviously in
distress, so why would he not continue to the hospital? His claim that he
believed she was faking is nonsense.

- His claim that he slipped a bathrobe on her for the purpose of making her
presentable at the hospital is equally self-serving and lacking in credibility,
and is contrary to his claim that he believed she was faking how does one
put a bathrobe on a person who is dead without realizing that she is in fact,

- Instead of calling 911 immediately after discovering her to be unconscious,

he puts the body in his vehicle.

- Instead of calling a friend or relative to watch his son, he puts him in the car
with him. After police arrived it was not difficult at all to find someone to
watch his son.

- He supposedly pulled Nicole from a tub full of water, and pulled his son out,
but took the time to pull the plug on the tub and drain it. Some doubt was
raised as to that part of the story by investigators as they examined the tub and
found the drain with the stopper in the fill position, in the closed position,
and the tub to be dry except for the bottoms of several items found in the tub,
one of which was the paper clip allegedly used to open the door.

All in all, these actions evince his intent to suppress evidence, to wit, the body of Nicole
itself and the state Nicole was in and what had happened to her, from any official inquiry,
whether by police as to whether a drug possession charge was forthcoming or a medical
examiners inquiry as to the cause of death.
He committed an act of concealment by taking the body out of the house and putting it in
his car, even if he did not ultimately succeed in concealing it.

Defendant has argued that he was under the influence of heroin during the entire
sequence of events, and as such, was not capable of forming the intent necessary to commit the
offense of Tampering with physical evidence, or the offense of Endangering the Welfare of a

Defendant admitted that he consumed heroin shortly after he purchased it on Lyell

Avenue, which would have been around 4:00, and then consumed more at around 4:15 to 4:30,
before he went to the drugstore.
The evidence does not establish that the ingestion of heroin prevented the defendants
ability to form the intent to commit a crime. There is little or no indication that the defendants
judgment and critical thinking were impaired from the time he first consumed heroin to the point
where he called 911 and beyond.
First of all, there was no testimony as to the effect of heroin on the mental processes, no
evidence that heroin reduces critical thinking or judgment. Defendant argued that he was an
addict and that his actions were the disjointed and irrational products of an addicts mind. Yet,
there was no testimony that the defendant was an addict and in fact, he told police he was not an
addict and denied having used heroin recently.
What is known regarding defendants mental state is that he maintained the ability, after
first consuming heroin, to drive safely home from Lyell Avenue, to park his car, to send texts to
his girlfriend, to enter house and cut two lines of heroin. He then consumed more. From there he
got back into his car, drove safely to the drugstore, walked into the drugstore as seen on the
DVD, finds the hair gel, pays for it, and walks calmly out. At no time on the dvd does he appear
to have been in any distress or suffering from lack of judgment or ability to function. He then
drives back home, unlocks a door with a paper clip, and moves his girlfriends body into his car,
puts his son into the car seat, a maneuver that I can tell you takes some dexterity, reclines the
front seat back, and drives away, returning safely and again pulling into the garage, takes the
body out and puts it back into the living room.
Accordingly, there being no evidence that the defendants consumption of heroin affected
his ability to function or form the intent to commit the crime, the defense is rejected.

To phrase the courts finding in the exact language of the pattern jury instruction:

In order to find the defendant guilty of this crime, Tampering with Physicial Evidence,
the People are required to prove from all of the evidence in the case, beyond a reasonable doubt,
each of the following three elements:
1. That on or about (date), in the county of (specify), the defendant, (defendants name),
suppressed physical evidence by any act of concealment, alteration or destruction, or
by employing force, intimidation or deception against any person;
Taking the body of Nicole Grana out of the house and putting it in his car in a
bathrobe and driving around for a period of time, and waiting to call 911, constituted
an act of concealment which suppressed evidence of the condition Nicole was in, at
least for the period of time it took to take the body out of the house and be driven
around in the car.

2. That the defendant did so believing that such physical evidence was about to be
produced or used in an official proceeding [or a prospective official proceeding]

Defendant new or had reason to know that there would be an official proceeding into the
death of Nicole Grana once it was discovered that she died of a heroin ingestion and that
he had supplied her with heroin.

3. That the defendant did so intending to prevent such production or use.

His intent to suppress the physical evidence is apparent from all the circumstances set
forth above. Most prominently, his pattern of lies and deception, and his delay in
reporting her condition to 911.

The court finds that the that the People have proven beyond a reasonable doubt each
element of the crime of Tampering with Physical Evidence, and the defendant as the one who
committed the crime, thus, the defendant is guilty of the Third Count of the Indictment.


Turning now to counts one and two, there being no doubt that the defendant possessed
heroin, having admitted to purchasing it, cutting it, and leaving it for the mother of his child to
consume, and residue of the heroin having been found in the place where he said he left it, the
issue is whether the agency defense applies, that is, whether the intent to sell, with respect to
Count One, or a sale, with respect to Count Two, has been established beyond a reasonable
doubt, or whether the defendant was acting solely as an agent for his girlfriend. in the sense of
just doing her a favor from which he received no benefit.
As set forth in the Pattern Jury charge, examples of factors that would support the agency
defense include the following

1. That, prior to the transaction, the defendant and (specify name of buyer) were known
to each other and had a relationship.
2. That (specify name of buyer), and not the defendant, first suggested the transaction.
3. That the defendant said nothing to promote the sale.
4. That the defendant did not receive any benefit for his/her participation in the alleged
sale. Or, if the defendant received a benefit from (specify name of buyer), it was incidental, for
example, in the nature of a share of the drug or a tip, as a token of appreciation, and not in
consideration for selling.
5. That prior to the transaction, the (name of controlled substance [marihuana]) in
question was controlled exclusively by a person other than the defendant.
[6. That the defendant had not at any other time engaged in the sale of a controlled
substance [marihuana] (or, the possession of a controlled substance [marihuana] with the intent
to sell it).

Examples of factors that would not support the agency defense include the following
1. That, prior to the transaction, the defendant and (specify name of buyer) were not
known to each other and had no relationship.
2. That the defendant, and not (specify name of buyer), first suggested the transaction.
3. That the defendant touted the quality of the drug or otherwise promoted the sale.
4. That the defendant received a benefit for his/her participation in the transaction which
was not merely a token of appreciation from (specify name of buyer).
5. That, prior to the transaction, there were indications that the defendant had some
control over the drugs.
6. That the defendant had at some other time engaged in the sale of a controlled substance
[marihuana] (or, the possession of a controlled substance [marihuana] with the intent to sell it).

In the same way that a jury may request from the court an explanation of a jury charge
that goes beyond the text of the pattern charge, so too the Court, as finder of fact, can consider
language that encompasses, but phrases differently, the elements of the charge.

(1) did the defendant act as a mere extension of the buyer throughout the
relationship, with no independent desire to promote the transaction; (2) was the
purchase suggested by the buyer; (3) did the defendant have any previous
acquaintance with the seller; (4) did the defendant exhibit any salesmanlike
behavior; (5) did the defendant use his own funds; (6) did the defendant procure
from many sources for a single buyer; (7) did the buyer pay the seller directly;
(8) did the defendant stand to profit; and (9) was any reward promised in

The court has considered each and every factor in light of the evidence deemed credible
and accurate.

Here, it is undisputed that the defendant - the alleged seller - and his girlfriend the
buyer were known to each other, and that the apparent purpose of the transaction was to benefit
the buyer and himself. The evidence is silent as to whether there was any material profit
accruing to the defendant. Defendant in his statement asserted that the purchase was Ms. Granas
idea, however, given the defendants pattern of self-serving lies, that statement is given no

On the other hand, there is evidence that the defendant controlled the heroin before the
sale to Ms. Grana, in that he knew where to purchase it, drove to get it, purchased it, transported
it back, and cut it into two lines to facilitate her consumption of it. In other words, he drove the
transaction. He was doing himself a favor, not simply her. Although there is no direct evidence as
to who paid for the heroin, an exchange of text messages between the defendant and his
girlfriend regarding defendants control of his girlfriend because he pays for everything
suggests, or at least allows the court to draw the inference, that defendant paid for the heroin.
There is no evidence that Ms. Grana was an addict who was craving for a fix, and the defendant
got the heroin to in a sense help her he denied that she was an addict. Finally, the People point
out, and the Court agrees, that the defendant touted the quality of the drug, in that he used it first.
While there is no direct evidence that the defendant on prior occasions acted as a seller of heroin,
evidence of previous purchases of heroin was found in his house in the dresser.

Moreover, the Court considers the sociological setting of this case that complicates and
defies the neat drawing of lines between an agent and a seller, let alone between two people who
are in a relationship. Defendant and the girlfriend live together in a lavishly decorated, expensive
home which neither seem to have the means to pay for. She apparently had taken up with another
paramour a few weeks prior, causing some difficulty between them. They have a child together.
They display a Christmas tree and a nativity scene in the living room. Yet in the midst of this
otherwise storybook setting defendant goes and purchases heroin from a random dealer and lays
out a line for his girlfriend, who he knows has just consumed four beers, so they can presumably
get high (and in case, because of the additive effect of the beer, to use a term, trashed,) before
going to, of all things, a family Christmas Eve party. And in addition, after cutting a line of
heroin for his girlfriend on the sink counter in the bathroom, he leaves his child with her while he
goes and gets hair gel for himself.

The moral depth to which the defendant has sunk here, the nearly incomprehensible lack
of regard for human decency and consideration, let alone consideration for his child and the
mother of his child, dictates the conclusion that the defendant here is more than doing a favor for
his girlfriend. In other words, he is not simply acting as an agent who facilitated her own
purchase of heroin. The setting here, the totality of the perverted relationship between the
defendant and his girlfriend, reveals him to be a predator, reveals this to be a case of one human
being taking advantage of and preying on another for personal gain, that gain being, the
defendants control and dominance over his girlfriend, exercised in part, and in part, through his
procurement of heroin for her. The evidence of the Defendants relationship toward his girlfriend,
and the manner in which he buys and transports the heroin, then, reflects the unmistakably
dominant part (People v Roche at 83) he plays in this transaction between them. He is as
much a pusher as if he was engaged in selling drugs on a street corner.

The court finds that the People have disproved the agency defense beyond a reasonable
doubt. Stated another way, the People have proven beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant
gave his girlfriend heroin with the requisite intent required to constitute a sale, and that he
possessed it with the requisite intent to sell.

Thus the defendant is guilty of the First Count and Second Count of the indictment.

Finally, with respect to the Fourth Count of the Indictment, the court finds the defendant
guilty. Defendant left his 18-month old child alone with his mother, who he knew had consumed
four cans of beer, and who he knew or had reason to know was about to do a line of heroin,
because he had cut it for her. And he put the heroin within reach on the counter of the sink in the
bathroom. Later, he put the dead body of the childs mother in his car with the child in his car
seat a few feet from her reclined head, while they drove around for an undetermined period time.
Thus the actions of the defendant were likely to cause harm to the child.

This constitutes the verdict of the Court.