On appeal from Superior Court, Law Division, Hudson County.
Skillman, Kestin and Wefing. The opinion of the Court was delivered by Wefing, J.s.c. (temporarily assigned).
Defendant Ismael Cardona was convicted by a jury of aggravated manslaughter (N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4); possession of a handgun without the requisite permit (N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b); and possession of a handgun with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person of another (N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a). He appeals those convictions and raises three arguments, none of which we find convincing.
The victim in this case was defendant's estranged wife, Milagros Cardona. Her body was found on the night of October 18, 1991 in a parked car in Hoboken with a gunshot wound to her left temple. The car was registered in the name of defendant who was arrested the following day. He was found hiding in the basement of his brother-in-law's home in Perth Amboy. At the time of his arrest, he had the fatal gun in his possession.
Defendant was taken to the Perth Amboy police station where he was interrogated by Captain Cruz of the Perth Amboy police force. Prior to any interrogation, Detective Marrero of the Perth
Amboy police twice told Mr. Cardona of his Miranda*fn1 rights; Captain Cruz repeated the Miranda warnings immediately before questioning Cardona. In addition, Cardona signed a card provided to him by Captain Cruz which set forth the required Miranda warnings. Captain Cruz proceeded to question Mr. Cardona who indicated that he had met with his estranged wife the previous night to discuss their relationship. During the course of their highly emotional conversation, Mr. Cardona produced a gun; he stated that he told his wife to kill him. He said that she didn't want to kill him and that she instead shot herself "because she told me she had too many problems." The questioning continued for a period of time, and then Captain Cruz returned to the subject of Cardona's Miranda rights with the following results:
Q: Did anybody here first of all let me ask you if anybody had promised you anything for saying that, correct?
Q: Has anybody here punched you?
A: No, no, no, I know it, if you want to kill me, kill me.
Q: No, no. I want you to understand this, nobody had promised you anything is that right? Do you know all your constitutional rights? Is that right, I read them to you is that right?
A: I just want you to kill me.
Q: Listen to me, I read the constitutional rights to you, is that right? Also, Conrad Marrero, Detective Marrero one of the guys who arrested you, he read the constitutional rights to you, is that right? Did he read them to you how many times did he read them to you?
Q: Two times. Okay, you do have knowledge of that is, that right.
A: Yes, but I don't know what that is.
Q: You don't know what your ...