Appeals court overturns Schenectady robbery conviction

A man convicted in 2013 of attacking and robbing his ex-girlfriend will get a new trial after an app

A man convicted in 2013 of attacking and robbing his ex-girlfriend will get a new trial after an appeals court found fault Thursday with the prosecutor’s closing arguments at trial.

The Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court overturned the robbery and unlawful imprisonment conviction of Tejpaul Rupnarine, now 43. Rupnarine was sentenced to seven years in prison for the conviction.

A Schenectady County jury found that Rupnarine lured his ex-girlfriend to his apartment in January 2013, restrained and threatened her and broke her cellphone.

The appeals court found that the Schenectady County prosecutor in the case inappropriately shifted the burden to the defense to explain the evidence in the case.

The prosecutor emphasized to the jury that Rupnarine did not provide an innocent explanation for his conduct after the incident and for incriminating evidence at the crime scene.

The court found that the comments, which were part of “a recurring and substantial theme” in the prosecutor’s summation, indicated to the jury that the defendant needed to provide evidence in the case. Only the prosecution is required to prove anything at trial.

The jury even asked for the offending portions to be read back during deliberations, something the judge in the case refused to do. The judge provided further instructions, but did not return to the issue of the prosecution’s responsibility to provide evidence.

Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney declined to comment on the ruling Thursday, saying he had yet to read it. He identified the prosecutor in the case as Brian Gray.

Rupnarine’s appeals attorney, Adam Parisi, could not be reached for comment.

According to authorities at the time of his arrest, Rupnarine, then of California Avenue, pushed the woman onto a bed, got on top of her and then punched her in the head and face. The punches caused lumps on her head, marks on her face and a cut and swollen lip, according to papers filed in court then.

He was also accused of keeping her in the house against her will for at least an hour.

Authorities accused him of threatening her with a knife, while telling her he’d tie her up with zip ties, rape and kill her if she tried to leave.

He also broke the woman’s cellphone in half because he didn’t know the password and was trying to check her call log history, authorities have said.

Rupnarine continued to be listed Thursday as an inmate at Franklin Correctional Facility. His parole eligibility date was Feb. 7, 2019.

Reach Gazette reporter Steven Cook at 395-3122, [email protected] or @ByStevenCook on Twitter.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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