The Second Department, applying a weight of the evidence analysis, determined the People did not present sufficient proof to demonstrate the victim’s eye injury rose to the level of “serious physical injury” and reduced the Assault First conviction to Assault Second. Defendant threw a brick from an overpass which struck the windshield of the victim’s car, sending glass into her eye:
Before the incident, the victim had not experienced blurry vision in her left eye. She testified that her overall vision worsened since the incident, and that she has a permanent scar on her cornea. At the time of trial, the victim visited the doctor every six months for evaluation of her corneal scar. She acknowledged, however, that before the incident, she wore eyeglasses. The medical records indicated that she had been diagnosed and treated for an eye condition, blepharitis. The medical records further indicated that, in a follow-up visit in February 2016, the victim reported no pain or change in vision. Notably, the People did not proffer any medical testimony to interpret and explain the medical records; explain the nature, severity, and prognosis of the victim’s eye injury; or to explain whether any preexisting eye condition or conditions were affected by the incident, or whether any such preexisting eye condition was a cause of any of her current complaints … .
Upon the exercise of our factual review power, we conclude that the verdict convicting the defendant of assault in the first degree and assault in the second degree was against the weight of the evidence. Given the lack of medical testimony to explain the nature of the victim’s eye injury, an acquittal on the charges of assault in the first degree and assault in the second degree would have been reasonable. Giving appropriate weight to the evidence submitted on the issue of ” [s]erious physical injury,'” we conclude that the jury was not justified in finding that the People proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the victim’s eye injury created a substantial risk of death or constituted a “serious and protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of health or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ” (Penal Law § 10.00 …). People v Palant, 2019 NY Slip Op 07289, Second Dept 10-9-19