The Second Department determined evidence of two prior incidents (more than a decade before defendant’s arrest) in which defendant had a firearm in his possession was admissible Molineux evidence in this prosecution for weapons and ammunition possession. Defendant argued at trial that he did not know the weapons and ammunition were in the truck he was driving. A strong dissent argued the Molineux evidence should not have been admitted because it was too remote, too prejudicial, and did not fit the state-of-mind exception to the Molineux rule:
“When [the] defendant’s criminal intent cannot be inferred from the commission of the act or when [the] defendant’s intent or mental state in doing the act is placed in issue, . . . proof of other crimes may be admissible under the intent exception to the Molineux rule” … .
Here, the Supreme Court providently exercised its discretion in admitting the proferred Molineux evidence. The evidence was directly relevant and probative of a material element of the crimes charged, namely, the defendant’s knowing possession of the guns … .
Our dissenting colleague’s assertion that the defendant’s criminal intent could be easily inferred from the circumstances of the incident, thus rendering the Molineux evidence unnecessary, ignores the fact that the defendant asserted a lack of criminal intent theory at trial. Contrary to our dissenting colleague’s assertion, the defendant placed his state of mind squarely in issue in his opening statement and throughout the trial, by pursuing the defense that “[h]e didn’t know” the guns were in the truck, and that the People would be unable to prove his intent to possess the guns beyond a reasonable doubt. People v Telfair, 2021 NY Slip Op 05355, Second Dept 10-6-21