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Sentence reduced in homicide case due to Domestic Violence Survivor’s Act

By: Bennett Loudon//July 15, 2021

Sentence reduced in homicide case due to Domestic Violence Survivor’s Act

By: Bennett Loudon//July 15, 2021

A state appeals court has reduced the sentence in a homicide case because the trial judge did not properly apply the state’s Domestic Violence Survivor’s Act.

Defendant Nicole Addimando, 32, was convicted in February 2020 in Dutchess County of second-degree murder, and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

She was sentenced by County Court Judge Edward T. McLoughlin to 19 years to life for the murder conviction and a concurrent sentence on the weapon conviction of 15 years, followed by five years of post-release supervision.

The Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act went into effect on May 14, 2019. The DVSA allows judges to impose reduced sentences for defendants who are victims of domestic violence.

“This case appears to be the first time that an appellate court has the opportunity to address the DV Survivor’s Act,” according to the decision written by Justice Reinaldo E. Rivera and released Wednesday by the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court, Second Department.

“We hold that the County Court did not properly apply the DV Survivor’s Act when sentencing the defendant,” Rivera wrote.

The panel reduced Addimando’s sentence for murder to 7½ years, followed by five years of post-release supervision. The sentence for the weapon conviction was reduced to 3½ years, followed by five years of post-release supervision, concurrent with the other sentence.

During the night of Sept. 27, 2017, and the morning of Sept. 28, 2017, Addimando fatally shot Christopher Grover, who was her domestic partner and the father of her two children. According to Addimando and several others who testified at the trial, Addimando had been repeatedly physically and sexually abused by Grover for many years.

The jury rejected the battered women’s syndrome justification defense.

Addimando asked to be sentenced under the DVSA. After a hearing where additional evidence of abuse was presented, McLoughlin denied her motion and sentenced her.

According to the DVSA, the judge must consider three factors when considering a request to modify the sentence: Whether the defendant was a victim of domestic violence inflicted by a member of the same family or household; whether the abuse was a significant contributing factor to the defendant’s criminal behavior; and whether, while considering the nature and circumstances of the crime and the history, character, and condition of the defendant, a sentence within customary statutory sentencing guidelines would be unduly harsh.

“Essentially, the County Court found that, while it was presumed the defendant may have been abused in her life, the choice she made that night and the manner in which the murder occurred outweighed what the court referred to as the defendant’s ‘undetermined abusive history’” Rivera wrote.

“Upon our extensive review of the evidence, we reject the County Court’s methodology, approach, application, and analysis,” Rivera wrote.

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