The First Department reversed defendant’s conviction, finding that the admission into evidence of the codefendant’s grand jury testimony violated the rule announced in Bruton v US, 391 US 123:
Under Bruton v United States, “a defendant is deprived of his Sixth Amendment right of confrontation when the facially incriminating confession of a nontestifying codefendant is introduced at their joint trial, even if the jury is instructed to consider the confession only against the codefendant” … . Since the rule only applies where the codefendant’s statement was “incriminating on its face, and [not where it] became so only when linked with evidence introduced later at trial” …, the question before us is whether the codefendant’s grand jury testimony was facially incriminating as to defendant, rather than incriminating only when linked to other evidence. * * *
Although the codefendant’s grand jury testimony was intended as an innocent explanation of the events surrounding the alleged robbery, and admitted no wrongdoing, nevertheless it was “facially incriminating” as to defendant within the meaning of Bruton.
The codefendant’s narrative placed defendant with the codefendant throughout the relevant events and, specifically referring to defendant approximately 40 times, described defendant’s conduct. Among other things, the statement recounted that, after defendant’s return to the codefendant’s car following an absence to “get food,” the alleged robbery victim (an undercover officer) appeared at the car window, asked where the “stuff” was, and dropped prerecorded buy money (the property allegedly stolen in the charged robbery) into the car. This narrative suffices to create an inference that defendant, while outside the codefendant’s vehicle, had purported to set up a deal for a sale of contraband that was to culminate in the vehicle, but did not fulfill the deal once he entered the vehicle. People v Johnson, 2014 NY Slip Op 08765, 1st Dept 12-16-14