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State v. Pearce

August 24, 2007

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
HUNTLEY PATRICK PEARCE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Criminal Part, Bergen County, 98-06-1091-I.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted: April 17, 2007

Before Judges Kestin, Payne and Lihotz.

Four persons were charged in an eighteen-count Bergen County indictment,*fn1 handed down on June 9, 1998: Jesus Fernando Zamudio, Debbie Moore, Huntley Patrick Pearce, and Jesus Fuentes. Defendant, Huntley Patrick Pearce, was charged, in count ten, with first-degree possession of marijuana in a quantity of twenty-five pounds or more, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(10)(a); in count eleven, with second-degree conspiracy to possess a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2; and in count fifteen, with fourth-degree possession of marijuana, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(3). Defendant was also charged, in counts twelve and thirteen, with two instances of third-degree endangering of a child, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4a; and, in count fourteen, with a single instance of second-degree endangering.

In June 2000, after the case went to the jury in the trial of the charges against defendant and Moore, defendant fled the State. On the second day of its deliberations, the jury returned a guilty verdict on all counts. Following rendition of the verdict, the trial court issued a bench warrant for defendant's arrest. In August 2005, defendant was arrested in California on the basis of the warrant and he was returned to New Jersey.

Defendant came before the trial court for sentencing on October 21, 2005. For the first-degree crime and the merged crimes of conspiracy and fourth-degree possession of CDS, the trial court imposed a prison term of eighteen years with eight years of parole ineligibility. For the second-degree endangering conviction, the court imposed a consecutive eight-year prison term with three years of parole ineligibility. Each of the third-degree convictions for endangering drew a concurrent four-year term. The customary assessments, penalties, and fees were ordered.

On appeal, defendant raises the following issues:

POINT I

PEARCE IS ENTITLED TO A JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL BECAUSE THE EVIDENCE AT TRIAL WAS LEGALLY INSUFFICIENT TO ESTABLISH THE ELEMENT OF KNOWLEDGE OF THE SPECIFIC UNLAWFUL PURPOSE CHARGED IN THE INDICTMENT.

POINT II

PEARCE IS ALSO ENTITLED TO A JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL ON THE CHARGES OF ENDANGERING BECAUSE THE EVIDENCE FAILS TO ESTABLISH KNOWLEDGE OF CRIMINAL ACTIVITY.

POINT III

THE COURT IMPROPERLY EXCLUDED A STATEMENT BY AN ALLEGED CO-CONSPIRATOR ...


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