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State v. Alexander

Decided: April 27, 1993.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
RYAN LEE ALEXANDER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



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

Havey, Stern and Brochin. The opinion of the court was delivered by Brochin, J.A.D.

Brochin

[264 NJSuper Page 104] Defendant Ryan Lee Alexander was convicted of possession of cocaine (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); possession of cocaine with intent to distribute it (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1) and 5b(3)); and being the leader of a narcotics trafficking network (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-3, the "kingpin" statute*fn1). For the latter offense, he was sentenced to

life imprisonment with twenty-five years' parole ineligibility; for the other two convictions, he was sentenced to concurrent terms of five years' imprisonment.

Defendant's arrest and indictment resulted from information that Anthony Harewood and Sandra Palmer provided to the police after their arrest for having sold nine baggies of cocaine to an undercover investigator for $100. When they were arrested, Harewood had $314.02 in cash in his pocket and Palmer had a large glassine bag containing 7.34 grams of cocaine in forty-eight smaller ziploc baggies. They told the police that defendant had recruited Harewood to sell cocaine. Defendant would supply Harewood daily with thirty to sixty bags of cocaine for resale. Palmer would hold the drugs and Harewood, who lived with her and was the father of three of her children, would collect the money from buyers whom defendant directed to him. According to Harewood, he would give defendant between $300 and $1500 a day; Palmer said that Harewood would pay defendant approximately $5000 a week and keep approximately $2000 a week as profit.

The statements which Harewood and Palmer gave to the police identified the apartment where defendant stored and sold cocaine. Pursuant to a warrant, the police entered and searched the apartment. Defendant was inside. While he was attempting to

turn on a light, he dropped a bag in which there were 42 smaller, green, ziploc baggies containing 11.08 grams of cocaine that looked like the baggies found in Palmer's possession when she was arrested.

Harewood's and Palmer's statements to the police were read to the jury. Harewood's statement said:

I met Ryan Alexander and Chris Kittrell inside 55 Railroad Avenue, Apartment A-4. Both of these guys had approximately 160 bags of cracks. They got me forty-eight bags of crack. I then gave these forty-eight bags to Sandra Palmer who hides these cracks on her body. I make $30 for every $100 of crack that I sell for Ryan and Chris. These guys sell the crack sometimes right out the window, while they stay inside. They are slick! They have over one hundred bags of cracks right now in their possession. I just seen the cracks minutes before you arrested me. I work for Ryan and Chris.

Palmer's statement said:

I have forty-eight bags of cracks which Anthony Harewood, my boyfriend, gave to me. He just received them from Ryan Alexander and Chris Kittrell in Didi's [ i.e., Alexander's girlfriend's] apartment. Ryan and Chris have been selling crack out of there since they were released from jail. They started as soon as they got out. They sell to everyone. I seen them sell to people, even juveniles over fifty times. They brag [they] own the block. They use Didi's apartment to sell their crack right out the window.

On appeal, defendant contends that reading Palmer's statement to the jury was prejudicial error because it revealed that he had been in jail and had sold crack to juveniles; that the prosecutor impermissibly expressed his own personal opinion, without support in the evidence, when he told the jury during summation that the small ziploc bags taken from Palmer were "unique" and of a type that he "had never seen before"; that N.J.S.A. 2C:35-3, the "kingpin" statute, is unconstitutionally vague; and that the court's jury instructions failed to distinguish between that offense and such lesser offenses as distributing or conspiring to distribute a controlled dangerous substance. Defendant also alleges that his convictions for ...


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