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State v. Miller

Decided: January 7, 1971.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
SAMUEL RONNIE MILLER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Kilkenny, Halpern and Lane. The opinion of the court was delivered by Kilkenny, P.J.A.D.

Kilkenny

Defendant was tried before a jury and found guilty of (1) possession of stolen property, contrary to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2A:139-1, and (2) uttering forged checks, contrary to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2A:109-1. He was sentenced to the New Jersey Reformatory for Males on each of these counts for an indeterminate term, to run concurrently and with credit for time spent in custody.

Defendant's motion to set aside the verdict as being against the weight of the evidence, to enter a judgment of not guilty in his favor as to these counts, and to allow him to enter a plea to a disorderly persons' offense of being unable to give a good account of himself, was denied.

Defendant appeals from the judgment of conviction. He advances seven points in his argument for a reversal. We consider them in the order submitted. Before doing so, however, we deem it advisable to make a brief recital of some pertinent facts.

On July 15, 1969 the office of Builders Block & Supply Co., Inc., in Freehold, was broken into and entered. There were taken therefrom 11 blank payroll checks of that corporation, two block hammers and an adding machine.

The next morning a car driven by Ulysses Murphy pulled up to the drive-in window at the Monmouth County National Bank. Defendant was identified as a passenger in the car driven by Murphy. The teller testified that defendant passed one check to the driver who, in turn, handed that check and another check, both falsely filled out for $110 each as payroll checks, to the teller to be cashed. When the men were asked for identification, they stated that they would return with some and drove away, leaving the checks with the teller. These two checks were among those originally blank checks taken from the office broken into.

The police were immediately notified. The stolen adding machine and two hammers were then found by the police

in Murphy's car. Murphy was present at the time of the search, but defendant was not.

Defendant was arrested on July 18, 1969 and incarcerated until October 9, 1969, when he was indicted. On September 5, 1969 he gave a statement to the police. He admitted that he suggested breaking into the office of Builders Block & Supply Co., Inc. There was some question as to the facts surrounding the statement and whether defendant was aware of his rights. However, the trial court specifically found that a statement of his rights had been read to defendant; he understood them; the police were unaware that an attorney had been appointed, and the statement was given voluntarily.

I

[The court held that the trial judge properly denied defendant's motion for severance of the fourth count (uttering forged checks) from the other three counts of the indictment respectively charging (1) breaking and entering with intent to steal, (2) grand larceny (the jury found defendant not guilty as to these counts), ...


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