The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has modified a recent decision to grant three robbery suspects a new trial because one of the defendants was apparently impaired when implicating himself and his co-defendants.
The revised decision in United States. v. Taylor, 11-2201, issued Tuesday, follows almost word-for-word a ruling the court handed down in December in the same case (NYLJ, Dec. 6, 2013) and does not change the result: The convictions of Curtis Taylor, Antonio Rosario and Samuel Vasquez remain vacated and the case is still remanded for a new trial. All that differs is a portion of the analysis.
In December, the circuit found that Taylor made the incriminating statements at a time when his judgment was impaired by pills he had taken in a suicide attempt. It said those statements, to the extent that they implicitly implicated Rosario and Vasquez, should have been suppressed by Southern District Judge Victor Marrero (See Profile).
However, the court initially declined to address the so-called “Bruton Rule” (see Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123 (1968)). Under Bruton, the prosecution is barred from introducing at a joint trial the confession of a non-testifying suspect naming a co-defendant as a participant in the crime.
The U.S. Attorney petitioned the circuit for rehearing, and the court granted the petition.
In the revised decision, the court applied Bruton and found that the evidence in this case failed the test because Taylor’s confession, although redacted, made clear that he was implicating his co-defendants.
Kelley Sharkey of Brooklyn represents Taylor. Rosario and Vasquez are represented by Jillian Harrington of Monroe Township, N.J. and Colleen Cassidy of Federal Defenders, respectively. Southern District Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Frey argued for the government.