The Third Department, over a two-justice dissent, determined County Court properly declined to adjudicate defendant a youthful offender and properly denied defendant’s motion to vacate his conviction on the ground he was suffering from the effects of an undiagnosed brain tumor at the time he pled guilty. The dissenters would have reduced defendant’s sentence because defendant was 18 at the time of the robbery/murder, the shotgun he possessed was unloaded, and he was not in the room when the victim was stabbed. The neurosurgeon testified that, although defendant’s tumor had been removed and he was in remission, the cancer could return and the five-year survival rate is 36%:
From the partial concurrence and partial dissent:
With what was known at the time of the plea and sentencing, we agree with the majority that Supreme Court acted within its discretion by imposing the negotiated sentence, without according defendant youthful offender status. On the record presented, we further agree that County Court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant’s CPL 440.10 (1) (e) motion.
That said, under the unusual circumstances of this case, we would reduce the sentence in the interest of justice. Without minimizing defendant’s actual role in the criminal incident, two facts warrant particular attention. The shotgun that defendant utilized was unloaded and defendant was not in the victim’s room when the stabbing took place. Defendant, who was 18 years old at the time of the incident, underwent a significant medical procedure in January 2014 to remove a malignant tumor from his brain. Defendant’s neurosurgeon explained that the tumor was a “very aggressive form of brain cancer” and averred that the “[u]sual median survival with such a tumor is customarily 2.3 years,” with two- and five-year survival rates of 64% and 36% respectively. As of June 2020, the neurosurgeon indicated that defendant was in remission, but noted that the tumor could recur. He further observed that defendant “is fortunate that he has not succumbed to his tumor.” Given this prognosis, and considering that defendant has been incarcerated since 2013, we would exercise our interest of justice jurisdiction to modify the sentence from 12 years to time served … . People v McGill, 2022 NY Slip Op 04762, Third Dept 7-28-22
Practice Point: County Court properly declined to adjudicate defendant a youthful offender and properly denied his motion to vacate his robbery conviction. Two justices, however, argued the defendant’s brain tumor and 2-to-3-year life-expectancy warranted reducing defendant’s sentence to time served in the interest of justice.