An appeals panel in Rochester has upheld a depraved indifference murder conviction in what it described as “one of those rare cases” where a charge of either intentional or depraved mind homicide would have been appropriate.
People v. Archie, 11-00408, arose from an incident in Syracuse in 2007, when the defendant was “jumped” at school by a fellow student who lived in the Pioneer Homes housing development. Three days later, Nakeem Archie, went to the development with a .22-caliber pistol and indiscriminately fired several shots at a group of three people, killing one and seriously injuring another.
Archie challenged his conviction, claiming the murder was “manifestly intentional,” and therefore could not have resulted from a depraved indifference to human life.
In a decision last week, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, said that while “shooting into a crowd of people is a quintessential example of depraved indifference, the mere presence of others does not transform an otherwise intentional shooting into a depraved indifference murder.” It noted that an intentional murder is motivated by a “conscious objective” to kill or cause serious injury while a depraved indifference murder is characterized by reckless indifference.”
Here, the court said, either theory would have been plausible. It rejected in a unanimous memorandum Archie’s contention that the crime he committed was intentional murder.
Assistant Onondaga County District Attorney James Maxwell argued for the prosecution. The defendant was represented on appeal by Piotr Banasiak of the Frank H. Hiscock Legal Aid Society.