The People v. Singleton, 3511/1998
Cite as: The People v. Singleton, 3511/1998, NYLJ 1202640782617, at *1 (Sup., QU, Decided January 13, 2014)
Justice Robert Charles Kohm
Decided: January 13, 2014
For the People: By; ADA Roni Piplani, Hon. Richard A. Brown, District Attorney - Queens County.
Defendant James Singleton, pro-se
At about 8:30 p.m., on October 18, 1998, seventy-one year old, Alberta Williams, entered the elevator of her apartment building in the Queensbridge Houses Complex. As she did so, the defendant also entered the same elevator cab, deceitfully stating that he was going to visit a friend who lived in the building. Ms. Williams, who was returning from church, would soon be a traveler on a nightmarish trip from the House of the Lord to the Gates of Hell, with the defendant as her tour guide.
When Ms. Williams and the defendant arrived at the fourth floor, the defendant, a registered sex offender on parole from a prior rape — that time of a seventy-three-year-old woman — forcibly pushed the septuagenarian victim into her apartment, ordering her to get on her bed and remove her clothing. Despite her pleadings and attempts to dissuade him by making reference to God, the defendant was not to be deterred. In a brutal and heinous pattern of abject debauchery, the defendant raped and sodomized the defenseless woman. Beyond the humiliation and indignity of the defendant's gross sexual attack, Ms. Williams suffered painful bruises to her neck and arms, as well as two vaginal lacerations.1
The defendant was subsequently arrested and indicted for the crimes of Rape in the First Degree
(Penal Law §130.35(1)), Burglary in the First Degree (Penal Law §140.30 (2)), Sodomy in the First Degree (Penal Law §130.50(1))2, Assault in the Second Degree (Penal Law §120.05(6)), and four counts of Sexual Abuse in the First Degree (Penal Law §130.65(1)).
The defendant proceeded to a jury trial presided over by the Hon. Randall T. Eng.3 By their verdict, the jury convicted the defendant of all the aforementioned charges. On December 7, 1999, Justice Eng sentenced the defendant to consecutive determinate prison terms of twenty-five years each on the rape, burglary and sodomy convictions, and determinate prison terms of seven years each on the sexual abuse and assault convictions. The sentences imposed under the sexual abuse and assault convictions were ordered to run concurrent to each other and concurrent to the sentence imposed under the rape conviction.
Prior to the actual imposition of sentence, Justice Eng made the following observations and comments:
"Let me tell you, Mr. Singleton, straight out that in the opinion of this Court, you are an extreme example of a clear and present danger to any community of human beings." "In this case, Mr. Singleton, this Court has no confidence in your ability to be rehabilitated in any fashion whatsoever, and anyone reviewing these minutes should understand that it is this Court's opinion that you serve every day of the sentence that I'm going to impose within the limits of the law."
(Sentencing Minutes, pg. 36, lines 24-25, pg. 37, lines 2-3, lines 14-20, Dec. 7, 1999)
On November 19, 2001, the Appellate Division, Second Department affirmed the defendant's judgement of conviction (People v. Singleton, 288 AD2d 405). On March 5, 2002, the Court of Appeals denied the defendant's application for leave to appeal (People v. Singleton, 97 NY2d 761 (Kaye, C.J.)). On December 11, 2003, the Federal District Court, Eastern District of New York denied the defendant's petition for Habeas Corpus relief and also declined to issue a certificate of appealability (Singleton v. Phillips, 2003 US Dist. LEXIS 2413 (E.D.N.Y.)
The Current Motion
Pursuant to CPL §440.20(1), the defendant has moved, pro-se, to set aside the sentences imposed herein, on the grounds that they were unauthorized, illegally imposed or otherwise invalid as a matter of law. More specifically, the defendant contends that, pursuant to CPL §70.25(2), the sentences imposed on all of his convictions should run concurrent to each other because "all his criminal charges stemmed from one criminal act that's related to one another."
The sentencing court ran the sentences imposed for the rape, the sodomy and the burglary consecutive to each other. Penal Law §70.25(2) provides that "when more than one sentence of imprisonment is imposed on a person for two or more offenses committed through a single act or omission, or through an act or omission which in itself constituted one of the offenses and also was a material element of the other, the sentences…must run concurrently." Here, none of the three subject offenses were committed through a single act, nor did either of the offenses constitute a material element of any of the other two offenses.
In People v. Rodriguez, 49 AD3d 433, lv to app den 10 NY3d 964, the defendant was convicted of Attempted Rape in the First Degree, Attempted Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree (two counts), Sexual Abuse in the First Degree (two counts), and Assault in the Second Degree. The Appellate Division, First Dept. held that "(t)he court properly imposed consecutive sentences for the five sexual offenses because they were 'separate and distinct acts, notwithstanding that they occurred in the course of a continuous incident' (People v. Wynn, 35 AD3d 283, 284, lv den 8 NY3d 928). Each of the sex crimes was a separate 'act' within the meaning of Penal Law §15.00(1) and §70.25(2), and nothing in the Penal Law requires any type of interval or interruption in a continuous attack in order for the individual acts to qualify as separate for sentencing purposes (see, e.g. People v. Brathwaite, 63 NY2d 839, 843)" (People v. Rodriguez, supra. 435).
So too, in People v. Lloyd, 23 AD3d 296, lv to app den 6 NY3d 755, the defendant had been convicted of Sodomy in the First Degree, Sexual Abuse in the First Degree and Endangering the Welfare of a Child. The Appellate Division, First Dept. held that "(t)he court properly imposed consecutive sentences for the sodomy and sexual abuse convictions because the offenses were separate and distinct acts, notwithstanding that they occurred in the course of a continuous incident (see Penal Law §70.25(2); People v. Laureano, 87 NY2d 640, 643) (People v. Lloyd, supra, 297).
And, in People v. Lanfair, 18 AD3d 1032, lv to app den 5 NY3d 790, the Appellate Division, Third Dept., in affirming the judgement of conviction wherein the defendant was convicted of four counts of sodomy, held that "(i)t is well settled that consecutive sentences may be imposed where acts of deviate sexual intercourse occur with a continuous sexual incident since the material elements are distinct and require different sexual acts (see People v. Laureano, supra, 643; People v. MacGilfrey, 288 AD2d 554, 556, lv den 97 NY2d 757; People v. May, 263 AD2d 215, 221, lv denied 94 NY2d 950). The Court further held in Lanfair that "(t)he acts of oral and anal sex, although part of one encounter, comprise separate, distinct and independently punishable offenses and need not be separated by any specific period of time or action to justify the imposition of consecutive sentences as suggested by the defendant" (see People v. White, 261 AD2d 653, 657; lv den 93 NY2d 1029; People v. Radage, 256 AD2d 742, 743, lv den 93 NY2d 977) (People v. Lanfair, supra, 1033-1034).
In the case at bar, the defendant's rape and sodomy of Ms. Williams constituted separate and distinct acts justifying the imposition of consecutive sentences, notwithstanding that they occurred in the course of a continuous incident.
With respect to the consecutive sentence imposed upon the burglary conviction, "the crime of Burglary in the First Degree was complete when the defendant forcibly entered Ms. Williams' apartment. The actions on which the convictions for Rape in the First Degree and Sodomy in the First Degree were based on "constituted separate acts" (People v. Lee, 92 NY2d 987). Hence, it was entirely lawful and appropriate to impose a sentence consecutive to the sentences imposed for the two sexual offenses (see, also People v. Perkins, 56 AD3d 944, lv to app den 12 NY3d 786; People v. Tucker, 278 AD2d 38, lv to app den 96 NY2d 788).
Accordingly, the defendant's motion to set aside the sentences imposed herein is denied in its entirety.
Order signed herewith.
The Clerk shall forward copies of this Decision and Order to the defendant at his place of incarceration and to the People.
January 13, 2014
1. This, of course, is in direct contrast to what the defendant asserts in his reply papers to the People's Affirmation in Opposition to the instant motion, where he bizarrely asserts: "Notably, aside from the sexual assault, there was no physical injuries where the defendant beat up the complainant or tried to killer (sic) her…"
2. Now defined as Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree.
3. Justice Eng is currently the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department