The 4th Appellate Division of New York's Supreme Court has set aside a hate crime conviction for a man accused of shooting a transgender person in Syracuse in 2008.
The court that sits in Rochester ruled the conviction on Manslaughter in the First Degree as a hate crime should not stand because the jury found Dwight DeLee not guilty of Manslaughter in the First Degree without the added element of a hate crime.
The issue was raised by defense counsel after the jury returned the verdict, but the lower court judge dismissed the jury instead of returning them to the jury room to resolve the discrepancy.
The appellate court did allow a weapons conviction to stand which means DeLee will remain in prison while the issues surrounding the manslaughter charge are resolved.
Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick said his office will seek review by the New York State Court of Appeals. In a prepared statement the District Attorney said:
"We are obviously extremely disappointed in the Fourth Department's decision and we plan to seek permission to appeal as soon as possible. There was nothing in the proof at trial, nor the conduct of the police or attorneys that was at issue. The Appellate Division ruled that, unfortunately, the problem in this case was a judicial error involving the trial judge's instructions to the jury and the jury's verdict based upon those instructions. We intend to ask the Court of Appeals to review this case and follow the well-written and well-reasoned dissent of Justice Erin M. Peradotto."