Attorney Troy A. Smith represented Curtis Batchelor on a brutal cold case murder in which Mr. Batchelor was charged with First Degree Murder and First Degree Rape. In May 1999, Elsa Grullon was raped and murdered in her Bronx apartment. At autopsy, DNA swabs were taken from Ms. Grullon’s vaginal area at which time the results established a DNA profile of an unknown male. However, the crime went unsolved for more than 28 years when Mr. Batchelor was arrested for a minor offense which required him to submit a DNA sample. The DNA sample was placed into a statewide DNA databank at which time it was determined that his DNA matched the DNA from the cold case homicide in 1999.
Mr. Batchelor was indicted on charges of First Degree Murder under New York Penal Law Section 125.27. Under New York law, Murder in the Second Degree under Penal Law Section 125.25 is commonly known as intentional murder which carries a minimum punishment of 15 years to life and a maximum of 25 years to life. Murder in the First Degree is similar to Murder in the Second Degree in that both offenses require an intent to kill but there are certain aggravating factors which elevate an offense to Murder in the First Degree. Examples of these aggravating factors include rape, arson, robbery and burglary. As here, Mr. Batchelor was charged with Murder in the First Degree as Ms. Grullon was raped and stabbed more than 22 times. Murder in the First Degree was amended in 1995 to allow for the imposition of the death penalty. However, in 2007, the Court of Appeals ruled that this statute as written was unconstitutional and that the death penalty is no longer a permissible sentence in New York. However, the statute still allows for a maximum sentence of Life without Parole and a minimum sentence of twenty years to life.
Through Attorney Smith’s zealous advocacy for his client he was able to negotiate a plea deal to the lesser charge of Manslaughter in the First Degree with a sentence of 20 years of incarceration thus avoiding a life sentence had Mr. Batchelor been convicted of Murder in the First Degree or Murder in the Second Degree. Additionally, as part of the plea negotiation, Mr. Batchelor was not required to plead guilty to any Rape or sexual assault offense and will not be required to register as a sex offender.
Additionally, at the time of Mr. Batchelor’s arrest, he was advised of his Miranda warnings to include his right to remain silent and his right to request a lawyer. Mr. Batchelor made the mistake in not only waiving his rights but he made a videotaped statement denying not only having sex with Ms. Grullon but he denied even knowing her at all. His video statement was contradictory to the DNA evidence in the case that showed the improbability that the DNA profile taken in 1999 belonged to someone other than Mr. Batchelor to be greater than one in 6.8 trillion.
In 2015, with facts similar to the facts in Mr. Batchelor’s case, Attorney Smith achieved one of the most improbable acquittals of his illustrious career in his representation of Dale Robertson. Mr. Robertson was charged in the cold case murder of Stacy Inman. Ms. Inman’s body was found inside of a garbage bag. Mr. Robertson’s semen DNA was found inside of Ms. Inman and his DNA was also on the garbage bag. Mr. Robertson was read his rights by NYPD Homicide Detectives and waived his rights and provided a statement in which he admitted to having sex with Ms. Inman approximately two to three days before her death but he denied responsibility for the murder. However, in a subsequent interview which was not recorded, NYPD Detectives testified that Mr. Robertson broke down crying and admitted to the murder. Attorney Troy A. Smith, a subject matter expertise in litigating false confessions, successfully conveyed to the jury that the alleged confession which the Detective testified to was false.
If you find yourself in a situation in which the Police provide you Miranda Warnings: Always request to speak with an attorney before answering any questions. Attorney Troy A. Smith has more than twenty- six years of experience as a criminal defense attorney representing individuals charged with the most serious felony offenses in New York State Court and Federal District Court.