For almost a month this past spring and summer, the nation was held captive to a news story out of northern New York involving the escape of two convicted murderers from a maximum security lockup. An important slice of the story pertained to a prison laundry worker who admitted to providing the two with tools that they used in their escape. The spectacle of the 51-year-old married woman was dramatically intensified by reports that she had apparently become close with both prisoners prior to their escape. The end game came into place on Sept. 28 in a state court when she was sentenced to 2 1/3 years to seven years in prison pursuant to a plea deal on the felony charges she faced.
Another law enforcement officer has joined the long list of public officers charged with illegal drug possession or sales within the past few years. This time it is the 52-year-old male police chief of the village of Portville who has been arrested on drug charges. The New York State Police charged the man with fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled drug and fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled drug, which are both felonies. They charged him also with the misdemeanor of official misconduct.
Some New York prosecutors are recognizing the futility of continuing to treat marijuana enforcement as a priority. They believe that such a policy simply serves to divert significant resources from battling the growing epidemic of heroin. In the capital region, the Albany County District Attorney recently announced that low-level marijuana possession arrests serve to divert resources away from the deadly heroin plague spreading through the area. The announcement that the county will back-pedal on small marijuana arrests came on the heels of more reports confirming that blacks account for the vast majority of all pot arrests statewide.
In New York, manslaughter of the second degree is a felony that involves causing another's death by reckless behavior. Schenectady police arrested a 41-year-old man for that offense on Monday, Aug. 17, and for several other felony charges and misdemeanor offenses. The charges arose out of events occurring the previous Friday evening when the man allegedly hit two pedestrians in two separate incidents only minutes apart, and left the scene in both cases.
When an AMBER alert is issued, the police in multi-state jurisdictions engage in a thoroughly cooperative effort to locate a missing child and apprehend the suspects. An example of that occurred on Sept. 5 when New York State Police apprehended a 47-year-old grandmother and her 61-year-old boyfriend on the New York Thruway in Onondaga County and filed felony charges against them. The AMBER alert was originated in Vermont where the couple allegedly absconded with the woman's 4-year-old granddaughter over whom she had no custodial rights.
When a criminal defendant's actions with respect to the charged offense are bizarre and perhaps uncharacteristic of the person's general personality, criminal defense counsel must at least explore the possibility of a defense of insanity. One type of situation in which the insanity defense has been used is in the area of parents or guardians killing infants or very young babies for no explainable reason. The defense will not generally apply to an incident of child abuse or similar felony charges under New York law. Instead, the defense may potentially apply only where there is extremely unusual or shocking behavior seemingly caused by delusionary thinking that affects the person's ability to distinguish right from wrong.