New Trial Ordered Where Defendant Was 'Stupefied' at Questioning

, New York Law Journal

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Judge Jacobs

Three robbery defendants will get a new trial because statements one of the accused gave police were made while he was impaired by pills taken in a suicide attempt.

Curtis Taylor was "largely stupefied" when he implicated himself in the 2008 Christmas Eve robbery of a Manhattan pharmacy, so the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated the convictions of Taylor and codefendants Antonio Rosario and Samuel Vasquez.

While calling the suppression of statements made by Taylor "a close case," Judge Dennis Jacobs (See Profile) said in United States v. Taylor, 11-2201, the fact that Taylor fell asleep repeatedly during questioning "and was only intermittently alert" required reversal of the jury verdict.

"In sum, Taylor confessed while in a stupor, his will was overborne, his statements were not voluntarily made, and they should have been suppressed," Jacobs said,

Judges Amalya Kearse (See Profile) and Susan Carney (See Profile) joined Jacobs in also finding that the extent to which Taylor's statements were used against his codefendants also merited a new trial for them.

On Dec. 24, 2008, Taylor allegedly stood lookout at the door of a pharmacy in midtown Manhattan and Vasquez waited in a car as Rosario and a fourth accomplice, Luana Miller, entered the store.

Rosario brandished a gun and demanded OxyContin. The two fled with $12,000 in controlled substances, cash and subway cards and headed back to the Bronx.

Miller was later arrested and, facing extradition to Mississippi on unrelated criminal charges, agreed to cooperate.

At 6 a.m. on April 9, 2009, 25 New York City police officers and FBI agents swarmed on Taylor's apartment. Taylor later claimed he attempted suicide by swallowing a bottle of Xanax pills.

Detectives who questioned Taylor with the FBI present agreed that he nodded off at times during the interview but appeared lucid when awakened and was aware of what was going on when he confessed to the robbery and implicated Rosario and Vasquez.

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