The Second Department, reversing defendant’s criminally negligent homicide conviction in this traffic accident case, determined the evidence was not legally sufficient. Although the issue was not preserved, it was considered in the interest of justice. Defendant attempted to exit a highway at 74 miles per hour where the ramp speed limit was 45 miles per hour and the highway speed limit was 65 miles per hour. Defendant lost control, went down an embankment, and hit a tree. A passenger was killed:
… [T]he evidence was legally insufficient to establish “the kind of seriously condemnatory behavior” … in addition to speeding that is necessary to “transform ‘speeding’ into ‘dangerous speeding'” … . The People’s evidence established only that the defendant attempted to navigate the curved profile of the exit ramp at an excessive speed, and was late in attempting corrective measures by manually steering the wheel. While this conduct reflected poor judgment in the defendant’s operation of his vehicle given the roadway environment … , it failed to establish that the defendant engaged in “some additional affirmative act aside from driving faster than the posted speed limit,” as required to support a finding of criminal negligence or recklessness … . Accordingly, we vacate the convictions of criminally negligent homicide and reckless driving … . People v Cardona, 2022 NY Slip Op 04733, Second Dept 7-27-22
Practice Point: Defendant was speeding (74 miles per hour on an exit ramp) when he lost control of the car and struck a tree, killing a passenger. The evidence did not demonstrate “dangerous speeding.” Therefore the criminally negligent homicide and reckless driving convictions were not supported by legally sufficient evidence.