Former Seneca County Correction Officer’s Conviction Upheld

On December 21, 2012, the Appellate Division of the N.Y.S. Supreme Court in Rochester unanimously affirmed the judgment of conviction of Curtis L. Mason, a former correction officer at Five Points Correctional Facility in Romulus.
A 1,300 page record was submitted for the Court’s review. Seneca County District Attorney Barry Porsch argued on behalf of the People of the State of New York. Mason was represented by Syracuse attorney Mary J. Fahey.
In March 2011, Mason was convicted in Seneca County Court, after a jury trial, of one count of Official Misconduct. County Court Judge Dennis Bender sentenced Mason to a nine-month jail term, but the sentence was immediately stayed by the Appellate Division.
On appeal, Mason argued that the county court erred in allowing the People to admit DNA evidence at his trial and that the jury verdict was improper.
The victim, an inmate at Five Points, had testified that defendant took him to a secluded area of the prison where defendant engaged in sexual conduct with the victim and thereafter ejaculated. Forensic investigators took swabs from the area, and two of the swabs tested positive for the presence of sperm.  DNA profiles generated from the two swabs were consistent with DNA of defendant and DNA from one unknown person, with defendant being the major contributor.  The Appellate Division determined that the DNA evidence was direct and relevant evidence of the crime and therefore the county court properly admitted it.
The Appellate Division also ruled that the defendant, by not objecting before the jury was discharged, had failed to preserve for appellate review his argument concerning the propriety of the verdict. Nonetheless, the Appellate Court reached the issue in the interest of justice and concluded that the jury verdict was proper.
The Appellate Division remitted the matter to the Seneca County Court for the imposition of the original sentence.
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