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State v. Candelaria

April 20, 1998

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
LUIS CANDELARIA, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Before Judges Long and Stern.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stern, J.A.D.

[9]    Submitted January 27, 1998

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

Defendant appeals from twenty convictions relating to a series of armed robberies and burglaries occurring in Trenton in November and December 1993, and from his sentence of life plus 105 years with sixty years of parole ineligibility. We affirm the convictions but modify the sentence.

I.

Defendant was indicted for armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (counts three, four, five, seven, eight, ten, eleven, fourteen, fifteen, seventeen, nineteen and twenty); burglary while armed, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2a(1) and -2b(2) (counts two, six, nine, thirteen, sixteen and eighteen); theft by receiving stolen property, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7a (count one); burglary, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2a(1) (count twelve), and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a (count twenty-one). After the denial of his motion to suppress and a pretrial hearing at which the trial Judge concluded that his statements were admissible, defendant was convicted of all charges except for the theft alleged in count one. *fn1

The State's motion for an extended term pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:44-3 was granted, and defendant was sentenced on count three to a term of life imprisonment in the custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections with twenty-five years to be served before parole eligibility. He was given twenty year sentences with minimum parole ineligibility terms of seven years each, consecutive to count three, on counts seven, ten, fourteen, seventeen, nineteen, and to a five year term on count twelve consecutive to count three. Count twenty-one was merged into count three. Sentences on the other convictions were made concurrent to count three. The sentencing Judge stated, and the parties agree, that defendant received an aggregate sentence of life imprisonment plus 105 years with sixty years of parole ineligibility. *fn2 Additionally, a $350 aggregate Violent Crimes Compensation Board penalty was imposed and $1,178 in restitution was ordered.

Defendant appeals to us and, in a brief prepared by designated counsel, he argues:

POINT I THE DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM UNREASONABLE SEARCHES AND SEIZURES WAS AS GUARANTEED BY THE FOURTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ART. 1 PAR. 7 OF THE NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTION WAS VIOLATED:

THE SEARCH OF THE DEFENDANT WAS UNLAWFUL BECAUSE A REASONABLE POLICE OFFICER WOULD NOT HAVE CONCLUDED THAT THERE WAS JUSTIFIABLE SUSPICION TO BELIEVE THAT THE DEFENDANT WAS ARMED AND DANGEROUS.

POINT II THE DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW AS GUARANTEED BY THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ART. I PAR. 1 OF THE NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTION WAS VIOLATED BY THE TRIAL COURT'S FAILURE TO INSTRUCT THE JURY ON THE LAW OF ORAL INCULPATORY ADMISSIONS. (Not Raised Below)

POINT III THE DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW AS GUARANTEED BY THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ART. 1 PAR. 1 OF THE NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTION WAS VIOLATED:

A. THE TRIAL COURT IMPROPERLY ADMITTED OTHER-CRIME EVIDENCE. (Not Raised Below)

B. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY FAILING TO GIVE THE JURY A LIMITING INSTRUCTION ON THE PERMISSIBLE AND IMPERMISSIBLE USE OF THE OTHER-CRIME EVIDENCE. (Not Raised Below)

POINT IV THE DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW AS GUARANTEED BY THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ART. 1 PAR. 1 OF THE NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTION WAS VIOLATED BY THE ADMISSION OF AN EXPERT OPINION BY A POLICE OFFICER WITHOUT QUALIFYING HIM AS AN EXPERT AND WITHOUT ESTABLISHING THAT THE SCIENCE, METHODOLOGY OR TECHNIQUE USED BY HIM YIELDS SUFFICIENTLY RELIABLE RESULTS. (Not Raised Below).

POINT V THE STATE FAILED TO PROVE BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT THAT THE DEFENDANT KNOWINGLY AND VOLUNTARILY WAIVED HIS MIRANDA RIGHTS.

POINT VI THE DEFENDANT'S SENTENCE IS EXCESSIVE:

A. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY IMPOSING AN EXTENDED TERM WITH A PAROLE INELIGIBILITY.

In a pro se supplemental brief defendant also argues:

POINT I THE CONVICTION MUST BE REVERSED BECAUSE THE EVIDENCE WAS OBTAINED BY THE EXPLOITATION OF AN ILLEGAL ARREST IN VIOLATION OF U.S. CONST. AMEND. IV AND ART. 1 ¶ 7 OF THE N.J. CONST. (1947)

POINT II DEFENDANT'S CONVICTION MUST BE REVERSED DUE TO INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL IN VIOLATION OF U.S. CONST. AMENDS. VI AND XIV AND ART.1, ¶ 9 OF THE N.J. CONST. (1947)

POINT III DEFENDANT WAS DENIED THE RIGHT TO A SPEEDY TRIAL IN VIOLATION OF THE SIXTH AMENDMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AND ARTICLE 1, PARAGRAPH 10 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY

Our careful review of the record convinces us that these contentions, except as they relate to defendant's sentence, are without merit and that only the following ...


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