The Court of Appeals, in a brief two-paragraph decision, agreed with the dissenting opinion from the Appellate Division, which upheld the conviction of assault and weapons possession earlier this year. In a two-one ruling, the Appellate Division said Judge Andrew Ceresia properly allowed a witness to tell the jury he saw Myers waving a similar type handgun more than two months prior to the Guynup shooting. Meyers was never charged with a crime in that incident.
The Court of Appeals, however agreed with the dissenting opinion written by Judge Elizabeth J. Garry. She wrote that an uncharged crime can only be introduced to help the prosecution establish identity or if the prior bad act had been consistent with the defendant’s unique modus operandi. Assistant District Attorney Keith Muse called Robert Cruz to the stand during the August 2010 trial to tell the jury he saw Meyers waving a .25 caliber pistol at the apartment complex during party where a fight broke out.
“In the absence of clear and convincing proof of either of the two required elements – that defendant perpetrated the earlier uncharged incident or that he used a distinct modus operandi – Cruz’s testimony was so lacking in probative vale that it was necessarily outweighed by its potential for prejudice, and its admission was an abuse of discretion as a matter of law,” Garry wrote in the April decision.
She also pointed to the fact Cruz was the only one to testify despite the fact a number of his family members were present when Meyers allegedly brandished the handgun, that it was impossible to determine if the handguns in each incident were of the same caliber or even which specific caliber gun was used to shoot Guynup and that Cruz admitted to getting his own sentence reduced in exchange for his testimony. She also wrote that the fact Myers was in the area prior to the shooting was not unusual.
Meyers was convicted of shooting Guynup - who survived but was rendered extremely disabled and requires around-the-clock care to provide even his most basic needs - while Guynup was taking photos of a 3:30 a.m. melee, the second of the night, outside his house across the street from the apartment complex on Sept. 13, 2009.
A jury acquitted Meyers of attempted murder but Ceresia sentenced him to the maximum of 25 years in prison for the assault and another 15 years for weapon’s possession which were to serve concurrently.
It’s unclear when Myers will return to court. The Rensselaer County Public Defender’s Office defended Meyers during his trial and Eugene Grimmick handled the appeal.
District Attorney Richard McNally could not immediately be reached for comment.