The Second Department, reversing defendant’s conviction determined the identification evidence was too weak to support the conviction in this robbery case. The conviction was deemed to be against the weight of the evidence:
Upon the exercise of our independent factual review power (see CPL 470.15), we conclude that the verdict of guilt was against the weight of the evidence. “[W]eight of the evidence review requires a court first to determine whether an acquittal would not have been unreasonable. If so, the court must weigh conflicting testimony, review any rational inferences that may be drawn from the evidence and evaluate the strength of such conclusions. Based on the weight of the credible evidence, the court then decides whether the [factfinder] was justified in finding the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” … .
At the second trial, in this one-witness identification case, the complainant consistently had difficulty remembering details of the crime. She could not remember how she described the defendant, and when asked how she recognized him, she stated, “[b]y his shirt.” The description she provided of the perpetrator shortly after the incident did not match, in several ways, the defendant’s actual physical characteristics and appearance. Moreover, at the time of his arrest, several minutes after the incident, the defendant possessed neither the money nor the personal items which had allegedly been taken from the complainant. People v James, 2020 NY Slip Op 00615, Second Dept 1-29-20