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State v. Hill

January 12, 2004

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
DAMON L. HILL, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Indictment No. 00-05-0732.

Before Judges Pressler, Ciancia and Alley.

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

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted December 9, 2003

Defendant Damon L. Hill was charged with various offenses arising out of the bludgeoning death of an eighty-four-year-old woman, Anne King, in her home. The indictment also set forth charges alleging that defendant on prior occasions burglarized and criminally trespassed on Ms. King's home. Defendant's first trial ended with a not guilty verdict on the charge of purposeful or knowing murder, but the jury was unable to reach unanimity on all remaining charges.

Defendant's second jury trial resulted in guilty verdicts on the following crimes: felony murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(3); armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1; second-degree burglary, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2; third-degree burglary (two counts), N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2; fourth-degree criminal trespass (two counts), N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3a; third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d; and fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d.

Defendant was sentenced to thirty years imprisonment with thirty years parole disqualification for the crime of felony murder. A concurrent fifteen-year term was imposed for armed robbery, and a concurrent seven-year term was imposed for second-degree burglary. For the third-degree crime of possessing a weapon for an unlawful purpose, a concurrent four-year sentence was given. Another concurrent four-year term was imposed for one of the third-degree burglary convictions. All other convictions merged. Appropriate fees and penalties were imposed.

On appeal defendant contends:

POINT I

THE VOIR DIRE OF PROSPECTIVE JURORS WAS INADEQUATE BECAUSE THE JUDGE REFUSED TO DETERMINE IF THEY COULD BE FAIR AND IMPARTIAL DESPITE THE NATURE OF THE CRIME, IN VIOLATION OF DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW AND A FAIR TRIAL BY AN IMPARTIAL JURY. U.S. CONST. AMENDS. VI, XIV; N.J. CONST. (1947) ART. I, PARS. 1, 9, 10.

POINT II

IMPROPER SUMMATION REMARKS, CLAIMING THAT DEFENSE COUNSEL WAS TRYING TO DISTRACT THE JURORS FROM THE REAL ISSUES AND DEFENSE COUNSEL ALWAYS HAVE A RESPONSE NO MATTER WHAT THE EVIDENCE SHOWS, DEPRIVED DEFENDANT OF THE RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW AND A FAIR TRIAL. U.S. CONST. AMEND. XIV; N.J. CONST. (1947) ART. I, PARS. 1, 9, 10. (Not Raised Below)

POINT III

DEFENDANT'S CONVICTIONS FOR BURGLARY, ROBBERY, AND POSSESSION OF A WEAPON FOR AN UNLAWFUL PURPOSE SHOULD HAVE BEEN MERGED INTO ...


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