The Fourth Department, exercising its own interest of justice authority, determined defendant should be adjudicated a youthful offender, noting that County Court did not abuse its discretion:
… [D]efendant was 17 years old at the time of the crimes and had no prior criminal record, history of violence, or history of sex offending. Moreover, defendant has substantial cognitive limitations, learning disabilities, and other mental health issues, and he has accepted responsibility for his actions and expressed genuine remorse. Both the Probation Department and the reviewing psychologist recommended youthful offender treatment, and the record suggests that defendant might have the capacity for a productive and law-abiding future. The only factor weighing against affording defendant youthful offender treatment is the seriousness of the crimes.
On balance, although County Court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant youthful offender status, we will exercise our discretion in the interest of justice to reverse the judgment, vacate the conviction, and adjudicate defendant a youthful offender … . People v Nicholas G., 2020 NY Slip Op 01828, Fourth Dept 3-13-20