Donald L. McCray
Nature of the Case: Appeal upon a verdict convicting defendant of the crimes of assault on a police officer and criminal use of a firearm in the 2nd degree. Concise Rule of Law:Mental Hygiene Law § 9.41 which permits persons who appear to be mentally ill and acting in a manner that threatens safety of self or others to be taken into custody. The Penal Law § 120.08 imposes strict liability with respect to the serious injury aspect of a crime. Facts of the Case:In August 2008, McCray alerted Sunmount Developmental Disabilities Office (SDDO) and Franklin County Emergency Services he was armed and had intended on commit suicide. McCray was eventually found in a canoe to the Raquette River by a variety of police agencies including State Troopers and officers from Department of Environmental Conservation(DEC). This resulted in a standoff for many hours during which McCray maintained aim of the loaded shotgun at himself. A trooper seized an opportunity to grab the gun, along with a DEC officer. A struggle ensued and the gun went off causing massive injuries to a Troopers hand. After being arrested, McCray was charged by indictment with assault on a police officer and criminal use of a firearm in the 2nd degree. Following a trial, McCray was convicted as charged and sentenced to 15 years in prison followed by 5 years of post-release supervision, defendant appeals.
Issues of the Case: Was McCray’s mental health status such that he qualified for consideration under Mental Hygiene Law § 9.41 or Penal Law § 120.08 which addresses the element of the intent? Did McCray’s attorney represent him effectively?
Was his punishment considered harsh or excessive?
Holding of the Case: Mental Hygiene § 9.41 does not impermissibly criminalizes defendant’s mental illness. Penal Law § 120.08 does not negate the requirement to prove intent.
McCray was not impermissibly criminalized.