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State v. Reldan

Decided: February 14, 1979.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROBERT RELDAN, DEFENDANT



Lucchi, J.s.c.

Lucchi

Counsel for the defense has moved to dismiss the above-captioned indictment for lack of jurisdiction. The facts, as derived from counsel's briefs, grand jury testimony and oral argument, are as follows:

On October 6, 1975 Mrs. Susan Heynes was reported missing from her home in Haworth, New Jersey, under circumstances that led her husband to believe she had been the victim of foul play. Mrs. Heynes was last seen by a neighbor outside her home at about 3:30 P.M. on the day of her disappearance.

On October 27, 1975 the nude body of Susan Heynes was discovered partially hidden beneath some broken-off tree branches in a wooded area of Valley Cottage, New York. An autopsy performed by the Rockland County Chief Medical Examiner indicated the cause of death to be homicide by strangulation.

Vacuum sweepings subsequently taken from defendant's Opel station wagon revealed strands of hair exhibiting the same microscopic characteristics as head hair samples taken from Susan Heynes. In addition, sensitive tracking dogs employed by the State detected Mrs. Heynes scent in defendant's automobile.

On October 14, 1975 Susan Reeve disappeared from her home in Demarest, New Jersey. She was last seen by a witness who "noticed something was wrong" as he observed her standing with a man near a parked station wagon about a quarter of a mile from her home. The station wagon was later positively identified as belonging to defendant.

Susan Reeve's nude body was discovered on October 28, 1975 in Tallman State Park, New York. The body had been partially covered with broken-off swamp reeds. The Rockland County Chief Medical Examiner was again summoned and determined the cause of death to be homicide by strangulation. In addition, he opined that Ms. Reeve had been the victim of rape and her body moved to the site of

its discovery subsequent to her murder. Articulable similarities in the manner of disappearance and death of the two victims led the Chief Medical Examiner to conclude that they were murdered by the same person.

As in the case of Susan Heynes, the scent of Susan Reeve was subsequently detected by tracking dogs to be present inside defendant's automobile. Ms. Reeve's scent was also located in two areas at the house of defendant's aunt in Closter, New Jersey. In one such area, the garage, investigators discovered blood stains of the same type as Susan Reeve's blood. Finally, vacuum sweepings extracted from defendant's automobile revealed the presence of hair strands possessing the same microscopic characteristics as those belonging to Susan Reeve.

On January 20, 1977 a Bergen County grand jury returned a two-count indictment against defendant charging him with the murders of Susan Heynes and Susan Reeve, in violation of the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2A:113-1 and 2A:113-2. Defendant now moves pursuant to R. 3:10-4 for the dismissal of said indictment based upon lack of jurisdiction.

Both the State and defense counsel have noted, and this court is likewise cognizant of, the fundamental legal principle that "an essential element necessary to the invocation of jurisdiction in criminal cases is that the crime be committed in the state in which the case is tried." State v. McDowney , 49 N.J. 471, 474 (1967); see also, State v. Stow , 83 N.J.L. 14 (Sup. Ct. 1912); State v. Wyckoff , 31 N.J.L. 65 (Sup. Ct. 1864); and 4 Wharton's Criminal Law and Procedure ยง 1501 (1957).

The opinion in McDowney, supra , recognized that a defendant moving pretrial to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction is faced with a ...


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