On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County, Indictment No. 97-07-0846I.
Before Judges Havey, Braithwaite and Coburn.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Braithwaite, J.A.D.
As amended January 9, 2002.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued September 24, 2001
Following a jury trial, defendant Matan Shelton was convicted of the brutal murder of Sarah Harris ("Harris") that occurred on October 13, 1996, in Trenton. In addition to murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1), the jury convicted defendant of: felony murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(3); first degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1; two counts of third degree theft by unlawful taking, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3a; possession of a weapon (a scarf) for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d; and unlawful possession of a weapon (a scarf), N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d.
At sentencing following the merger of various convictions, defendant was sentenced for murder, robbery and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. All the sentences on these convictions were concurrent, with defendant receiving a custodial term of life imprisonment with a thirty-year period of parole ineligibility. Defendant's convictions also resulted in violations of probations that had been imposed on two earlier convictions: third degree theft and burglary. The judge imposed consecutive five-year terms on each violation of probation, which terms were consecutive to the sentence imposed for Harris' murder. Defendant's aggregate sentence was life plus ten years, with a thirty-year parole bar.
On appeal, defendant contends:
THE TRIAL COURT'S ADMISSION OF DEFENDANT'S STATEMENTS WAS REVERSIBLE ERROR. (PARTIALLY RAISED BELOW)
1. THE DEFENDANT WAS IMPROPERLY DETAINED [FOURTEEN] HOURS PRIOR TO MAKING ANY ALLEGED ADMISSIONS. (NOT RAISED BELOW)
2. THE WRITTEN STATEMENT MUST BE SUPPRESSED AS THE POLICE DID NOT HONOR HIS EXERCISE OF HIS RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT. (RAISED BELOW).
THE PROSECUTOR'S ARGUMENTS WITH RESPECT TO FINGERPRINT EVIDENCE DEPRIVED DEFENDANT OF A FAIR TRIAL. (NOT RAISED BELOW)
1. IMPROPER SPECULATION WITH RESPECT TO PRINTS FOUND.
2. IMPROPER SPECULATION WITH RESPECT TO PRINTS NOT FOUND.
ALLOWING THE JURY TO HAVE A BLOW-UP VERSION OF DEFENDANT'S STATEMENT IN THE JURY ROOM VIOLATED DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL. (RAISED BELOW)
THE "POSSIBLE DOUBT" LANGUAGE IN THE REASONABLE DOUBT INSTRUCTION DEPRIVED DEFENDANT OF A FAIR TRIAL. (NOT RAISED BELOW)
THE TRIAL COURT'S STATEMENT CHARGE WAS DEFICIENT. ...