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State v. Thomas

Decided: January 14, 1988.

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



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County.

Michels, Shebell and Arnold M. Stein. The opinion of the court was delivered by Arnold M. Stein, J.s.c., (temporarily assigned).

Stein

Defendant was convicted of the murder of Vanessa Ward, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1) or (2) (count one); possession of a knife for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d (count two); and possession of a knife for a purpose not manifestly appropriate for such lawful use as it may have, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d (count three).*fn1 The death-qualified jury did not return the death penalty. Thereafter, the trial judge sentenced defendant to life imprisonment for the murder count, with a parole ineligibility term of thirty-two years. On the second count, defendant was sentenced to a five-year concurrent term. Count three was merged with count two. The judge also imposed VCCB penalties in the amount of $10,025.

On July 3, 1984, at 11:04 a.m., the Hillside police received a telephone call from the victim requesting an ambulance. We reproduce this call, a tape recording of which was played for the jury over objection:

Hillside: Hillside Police and Fire.

Caller: Ambulance, heavy breathing.

Hillside: Hello.

Caller: I need an ambulance.

Hillside: What?

Caller: I need an ambulance.

Hillside: Where at?

Caller: 1454 Leslie Street.

Hillside: 1454?

Caller: Yes, hurry.

Hillside: What's your name?

Caller: Vanessa.

Hillside: Vannessa what?

Caller: Ward.

Hillside: Ward?

Caller: Yes, yes.

Hillside: 1454 Leslie?

Caller: Yes.

Hillside: What ...


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