On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Passaic County.
Michels, Skillman and Landau. The opinion of the court was delivered by Skillman, J.A.D.
This is an appeal from an order of the Chancery Division, Family Part, waiving jurisdiction to the Law Division of charges against a juvenile for what would constitute the adult crimes of conspiracy (N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2), armed robbery (N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1), murder (N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3) and unlawful possession of a handgun (N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b)).
The case arises out of an armed robbery of a grocery store in which the owner was shot and killed. Evidence was presented at the waiver hearing that the juvenile, A.B., who was 17 at the time of the hearing, committed the crime along with three other juveniles. The evidence included confessions by each of the
juveniles which indicated that the crime had been planned at least a day in advance and that the juveniles planned to kill the owner in order to prevent him from later identifying them. A.B. was the one who actually fired the weapon.
After conducting a joint waiver hearing lasting five days, the trial judge concluded that the charges against all four juveniles should be referred to the Law Division. We granted motions by the juveniles for leave to appeal and calendared the cases for argument on the same day. We conclude that the Family Court properly waived jurisdiction of the charges against A.B. and the other juveniles.*fn1 Therefore, we affirm.
A.B. argues that he is "developmentally disabled" and therefore that under N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-44(c)(2) the trial judge had no authority to waive the charges against him to the Law Division. This section provides:
The following juveniles shall not be committed to a State correctional facility:
(2) Juveniles who are developmentally disabled as defined in paragraph (1) of subsection 3 of P.L.1977, c. 82 (C. 30:6D-3a(1)).*fn2
Preliminarily, we note that A.B.'s counsel failed to indicate at the commencement of the waiver hearing that he would attempt to show that his client was "developmentally disabled." Indeed, he indicated in a colloquy regarding the qualifications of one of his expert witnesses that the purpose of the proposed testimony was to show that there was a probability A.B. would be rehabilitated prior to reaching the age of 19. See N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-26a(3). No mention was made of any intent to show that A.B. was "developmentally disabled." Furthermore, the testimony of both experts presented on behalf of A.B. was directed solely at his capacity for rehabilitation prior to age 19. Hence, neither expert considered the statutory criteria for determining whether a juvenile is "developmentally disabled." In fact, the summation of A.B.'s counsel was the first time it was suggested that waiver of A.B.'s case to the Law Division might be inappropriate ...