On appeal from the Superior Court, Lab Division, Cumberland County.
Furman, Long and Scalera. The opinion of the court was delivered by Long, J.A.D.
After a jury trial, defendant, Jackie Williams and her codefendant, John Wesley Williams, were convicted of felony murder (robbery) in violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:113-1, 2A:113-2 and 2A:85-14; robbery in violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:141-1 and 2A:85-14, and armed robbery in violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:141-1, 2A:151-5, 2A:85-14. Another codefendant, Samuel Seabrook, whose appeal we have also decided today, was convicted of felony murder. A third codefendant, Leonard Williams, was acquitted of the charges against him. (Jackie and John Williams are brother and sister; Leonard is their cousin.) Jackie Williams was sentenced to a custodial term of life in prison for felony murder and to two ten-year custodial terms on the other convictions to be served concurrently with the life sentence imposed. She appeals, claiming that the following errors warrant reversal:
THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR ACQUITTAL UNDER RULE 3:18-1.
THE DEFENDANT WAS DENIED THE EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL .
THE SENTENCE IMPOSED WAS MANIFESTLY EXCESSIVE AND CONSTITUTES AN ABUSE OF DISCRETION.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR A NEW TRIAL BASED ON NEWLY DISCOVERED EVIDENCE.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO ADMIT THE RESULT OF A POLYGRAPH EXAMINATION.
We have carefully reviewed this record and have concluded that these contentions are entirely lacking in merit. R. 2:11-3(e)(2). However, Williams obliquely raised another claim in Point II of her brief which we believe warrants reversal: that certain actions of the prosecutor denied her Sixth Amendment right of confrontation.
The following is a summary of the facts in the case: On September 12, 1976, Frank Terrizzi, an attendant at the Arco gas station located at Pearl and Washington Streets in Bridgeton, New Jersey, was murdered. Approximately $56.00 in cash was taken from Terrizzi's pants pocket.
On the evening of the murder, Arthur Meade, a resident of Bridgeton, left his house at 8:00 p.m. to visit his sister, whose house on Pearl Street stood across the street from the Arco gas station. While walking to her house, Meade stopped at a local store to buy some cigarettes. There, Jackie Williams asked him for a match. When Meade left the store, he again saw Jackie Williams standing at the corner of Washington and Pearl Streets.
Meade proceeded onto Pearl Street before reaching his sister's house. There, he saw codefendants John Wesley Williams and Samuel Seabrook in an alleyway between two houses. He also noticed a bicycle wheel sticking out from the alleyway. Meade arrived at his sister's house between 8:40 and 9:00 p.m. Standing on the front steps of the house and looking out onto Pearl Street, Meade saw Seabrook walk across Pearl Street with a bicycle and enter the service area of the Arco station. According to Meade, by that time John Williams was no longer on the scene. While waiting for someone to answer his sister's door, Meade heard a gunshot. When no one answered the door, Meade left. Before getting home, he saw Seabrook race past
him on a bicycle after emerging from the opposite end of the same alleyway where Meade had seen him with John Wesley Williams (Laurel Street).*fn1
Janie Brown Lewis, another resident of Bridgeton, lived on Washington Street, which is perpendicular to Pearl and Laurel Streets. On the evening of the murder, while Lewis was sitting on her front porch, she saw Jackie Williams, together with two men, walk past her house. One of the men with Jackie Williams pushed a bicycle. Approximately 10 minutes after Jackie Williams passed her house, Lewis heard police sirens. She followed the sirens and saw police cars at the Arco gas station. She could not see what had happened because a police officer directed people away from the station.
At approximately 9:05 p.m., about 15 minutes before the police arrived on the scene of the murder, William Sease pulled into the Arco station to buy some gas. He saw Terrizzi lying on the floor near a car in the service area. Sease apparently assumed Terrizzi was working on the car. Sease waited for service, but no one came to fill his tank. While he waited, Jackie Williams walked over to his car from across the street and asked him for a ride. She identified herself and told Sease she knew his children from school. Sease refused to give her a ride. In the meantime, a man who had been using a public telephone on Pearl Street walked into the station and discovered that Terrizzi had been shot. Jackie Williams followed him into the bay area of the garage. Terrizzi died shortly after being taken to a nearby hospital.
Sometime after the murder, Marcus King came forward and turned over to the police a .22 caliber revolver which he bought from Seabrook for $20. The bullet retrieved from Terrizzi's
body was not a .22 caliber revolver bullet, but could have been fired from the gun ...