Monday, May 07, 2007

AD3: Decision for May 3, 2007

Evidence establishing "dangerous speeding" sufficient to sustain criminally negligent homicide conviction

People v Cabrera, 2007 NY Slip Op 03798 [available here]

Three passengers in Mr. Cabrera's car were killed when "defendant lost control of the vehicle while negotiating a curve and dip in the roadway at the bottom of a hill, partially cross into the left lane and then skidded off the road," striking a telephone pole and a tree. Mr. Cabrera was driving about 70 miles per hour in a 55 zone, and "there was a hazard sign with a recommended speed limit of 40 miles per hour" for the curve. (Cabrera, 2007 NY Slip Op 03798.) A jury convicted Mr. Cabrera of criminally negligent homicide.

On appeal, Mr. Cabrera argued that "evidence of this speed alone is not legally sufficient to sustain the charges of criminal negligent homicide . . . and that the record contains no further admissible evidence with respect to" that charge. (Id. at __.) While agreeing that proof of speed in excess of the posted limit, standing alone, would not be enough to establish criminally negligent homicide, the Third Department found the other proof at trial (i.e. crossing the center line, ignoring the hazard sign), in connection with the evidence establishing the speed of defendant's car at about 70 miles per hour at the time of the crash, was "sufficient to establish 'dangerous speeding' and to sustain defendant's convictions of criminally negligent homicide and assault." (Id.)