On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, whose opinion is reported at N.J. Super. (1993).
Approved for Publication June 13, 1995.
Before Judges Michels, Stern and Humphreys.
Tried to a jury, defendant Jessie Sharp was found guilty of (1) unlawful possession of a weapon, a crime of the third degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b) (Count One); (2) possession of a weapon with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person of another, a crime of the second degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a) (Count Two); (3) aggravated assault, a crime of the third degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(5) (Count Four); (4) two counts of resisting arrest, crimes of the fourth degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2(a) (Counts Five and Ten); (5) two counts of aggravated assault, crimes of the fourth degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(4) (Counts Six and Eight); (6) two counts of attempted murder, crimes of the first degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1 and N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3 (Counts Seven and Nine); and (7) receiving stolen property, a crime of the third degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7 (Count Eleven).
The trial court denied defendant's pro se motion for a new trial and granted the State's motion to sentence defendant to an extended term as a persistent offender. The trial court merged defendant's conviction for possession of a weapon with a purpose to use it unlawfully against a person of another under Count Two into his convictions for attempted murder under Counts Seven and Nine, merged defendant's conviction for aggravated assault under Count Six into his conviction for attempted murder under Count Seven and his conviction for aggravated assault under Count Eight into his conviction for attempted murder under Count Nine.
The court committed defendant to the custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections (Commissioner) for an extended term of fifty years with a twenty year period of parole ineligibility, imposed a $2500 fine and assessed a $30 Violent Crimes Compensation Board (VCCB) penalty for defendant's conviction for attempted murder under Count Nine. Additionally, the trial court sentenced defendant to concurrent terms aggregating fifteen years with a six-year period of parole ineligibility on the remaining counts (Counts One, Four, Five, Seven, Ten and Eleven) which were to be served concurrently with the sentence imposed for attempted murder under Count Nine. With regard to these counts, the trial court also imposed fines totaling $4,500 and assessed VCCB penalties totaling $180. Thus, the concurrent sentences imposed upon defendant aggregated fifty years with twenty years of parole ineligibility, $7,000 in fines and $210 in VCCB penalties. Defendant appealed.
Defendant seeks a reversal of his convictions or, alternatively, a modification of his sentences on the following grounds set forth in his brief:
I. THE PROSECUTOR'S IMPROPER REMARKS DENIED THE DEFENDANT A FAIR TRIAL. U.S. CONST. AMEND. XIV; N.J. CONST. (1947), ART. I, PAR. 10. (Partially Raised Below).
II. THE ADMISSION OF "OTHER CRIMES" EVIDENCE, WITHOUT BENEFIT OF A SPECIFIC LIMITING INSTRUCTION, SEVERELY PREJUDICED THE DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL AND VIOLATED EVID. R. 55. (Partially Raised Below).
III. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO GRANT DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR A JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL AT THE CLOSE OF THE STATE'S CASE.
IV. THE EXTENDED TERM SENTENCE IMPOSED BY THE TRIAL JUDGE IS EXCESSIVE AND INAPPROPRIATE UNDER THE MANDATE OF THE CODE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE.
Defendant also submitted a pro se supplemental brief in which he contends, among other things, that (1) the prosecutor's improper remarks denied him a fair trial and due process; (2) the prosecutor's questioning of a witness concerning other car keys found on defendant's key ring constituted improper evidence of other crimes and violated his right to due process; and (3) the trial court erred in charging the jury with respect to attempted murder.
We have carefully considered these contentions and all of defendant's supporting arguments advanced by defendant through counsel and in his pro se supplemental brief, and find that they are without merit and warrant only the ...