The Fourth Department determined Supreme Court erred when it denied defendant’s motion to vacate his conviction without a hearing. The motion was primarily based upon the victim’s, defendant’s daughter’s, recantation of her rape allegations:
In her affidavit, the victim, who was the sole witness to give testimony at trial with respect to the crimes, averred that she wanted to live with her maternal grandmother. In order to effectuate that move, her maternal grandmother advised her to accuse defendant of having sexually assaulted her. The victim averred that she did not care about defendant at the time and, therefore, she agreed to accuse defendant of sexually assaulting her. She further averred that, since the trial, she had reconnected with her paternal grandmother and had seen how the latter was suffering because defendant was in prison. Witnessing that suffering resolved her to tell the truth. Although the court found the victim’s recantation to be inherently unbelievable or unreliable, we conclude that, based on the totality of the circumstances, such a finding was unwarranted in the absence of a hearing … .
The victim’s trial testimony that defendant had sexually assaulted her was crucial to the prosecution’s case. Her subsequent averments that she was encouraged by her maternal grandmother to accuse defendant of crimes so that she could live with her maternal grandmother indicate that she had a motive to lie at trial. We therefore conclude that the victim’s trial testimony, if false, was extremely prejudicial to defendant inasmuch as, without that testimony, there would have been no basis for the jury to convict defendant … . Under those circumstances, the court’s denial without a hearing of that branch of defendant’s motion based on the victim’s recantation was an improvident exercise of discretion … . People v Martinez, 2015 NY Slip Op 02286, 4th Dept 3-20-15