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Appellate Division Re-Instates Manslaughter Sentence

Albany County District Attorney David Soares

 

 

Press Release

September 30, 2021

 

 

 Appellate Division Re-Instates 


Manslaughter Sentence


Court Rules Judge Lacked Authority to Re-Sentence


  


ALBANY, NY - District Attorney P. David Soares today announced that the New York State Appellate Division, Third Department, reinstated the sentence of JAH-LAH VANDERHORST, now 24, of Albany, for his role in the 2011 fatal stabbing of a 17 year old in Hoffman Park.

On April 30, 2011, VANDERHORST, then 17, and co-defendant DHORUBA SHUAIB, then 19, of Albany, caused the death of 17 year old Tyler Rhodes at Hoffman Park in the City of Albany by stabbing him in the heart with a knife. The incident was captured on a cell phone camera.

VANDERHORST was subsequently found guilty after a Jury trial of (1) Count of Manslaughter in the 1st Degree, a Class “B” Violent Felony, and on August 8, 2012, he was sentenced to 25 years in State Prison before Judge Dan Lamont in Albany County Court. VANDERHORST’s conviction and sentence was unanimously upheld by the Appellate Division, which can be found here. At the time, the Appellate Division commented that: “Despite defendant's youth, considering the documentation in the presentence investigation report, including defendant's school records, together with his lack of remorse and the devastating impact of his conduct on the victim and his family, imposition of the maximum sentence was neither harsh or excessive…”

The defendant subsequently filed a 440 motion seeking youthful offender status based on his age at the time of the crime. The motion was denied by Albany County Supreme Court Justice Thomas A. Breslin, and the Appellate Division declined to reconsider his ruling.

Despite the three prior rulings upholding the sentence, including two by a higher court, Justice Peter A. Lynch vacated the sentence after another 440 motion was filed. The Court issued a decision, which can be found here and the defendant was re-sentenced to 12 ½ years in State Prison, to be followed by 5 years of Post-Release Supervision, before Judge Peter A. Lynch in Albany County Court on July 22, 2019.

The People appealed, and today the NYS Appellate Division, Third Department, ruled that the trial court did not have the authority to re-sentence the defendant. Today’s decision can be found here.

“After watching a video of the violent attack, which clearly depicted this defendant as the aggressor, the jury reached a just verdict,” commented District Attorney David Soares. “The trial Judge handed down an appropriate sentence, which was upheld by a higher court. Today the NYS Appellate Division found that a lower court does not have the legal authority to re-sentence an offender, and we believe the re-instatement of the original sentence is a restoration of justice.”

On February 3, 2012, VANDERHORST’s co-defendant DHORUBA SHUAIB was found guilty after a Jury trial of (1) Count of Manslaughter in the 1st Degree, a Class “B” Violent Felony, under a statute for accessorial liability, meaning he intentionally behaved in a way that did cause the death of the victim. SHUAIB is currently serving a term of 21 years in State Prison and his conviction was unanimously upheld by the New York State Appellate Division, which can be found here.

Chief Assistant District Attorney David Rossi handled the prosecution of these cases.

Assistant District Attorney Vincent Stark argued the appeal for The People.

For more information please contact Cecilia Walsh (518) 275-4710.




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