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State v. Wooten

Decided: June 23, 1975.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
THOMAS WOOTEN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Kolovsky, Lynch and Allcorn. The opinion of the court was delivered by Kolovsky, P.J.A.D.

Kolovsky

[135 NJSuper Page 7] Defendant was brought to trial on a ten-count indictment returned by the State Grand Jury

charging defendant, who was then an inmate in the New Jersey State Prison at Rahway, with having committed various crimes during the course of disturbances at the prison which occurred on November 24 and 25, 1971.

No evidence was offered by the State with respect to Counts IX and X charging, respectively, kidnapping (N.J.S.A. 2A:118-1) and false imprisonment (N.J.S.A. 2A:85-1) of one Henderson. Those counts were dismissed, at the State's request, at the close of the State's case.

The jury found defendant not guilty on Counts I and VII charging him, respectively, with the kidnapping of Vukcevich, the prison warden, and Iorio, a prison guard. However, the jury found him guilty: on Count II charging false imprisonment of Vukcevich; on Counts III and IV charging assaults and batteries upon uniformed law enforcement officers, Gilgallon and Manyk (N.J.S.A. 2A:90-4); on Count V charging kidnapping of Monteyunas, a correction officer; on Count VI charging false imprisonment of Monteyunas; and on Count VIII charging false imprisonment of Iorio.

The trial court, on its own motion, set aside the verdict on Count VI charging false imprisonment of Monteyunas, ruling that it was a lesser included offense which merged into the conviction for kidnapping that victim, Monteyunas. Defendant's subsequent motions for a new trial and for a judgment of acquittal were denied. Defendant was sentenced to a term of 30 to 31 years on the kidnapping conviction (Count V) and to terms of two to three years on each of the other convictions (Counts II, III, IV and VIII). All sentences were made concurrent with each other and with the sentence defendant was then serving.

Defendant appeals arguing six points for reversal. We find no merit to any of them.

Defendant's principal attack is on his conviction for kidnapping Monteyunas for which the statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:118-1, provides a mandatory minimum penalty of 30

years. The attack is embodied in the first four points of his brief, captioned as follows:

Point I The trial court erroneously instructed the jury as to the definition of kidnapping (plain error).

Point II There was not sufficient evidence before the Grand Jury to sustain the ...


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