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State v. Thompson

October 1, 2007

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
RASUAN THOMPSON, A/K/A RASUAN DURRELL THOMPSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Indictment No. 03-11-2186.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted September 17, 2007

Before Judges S. L. Reisner and Gilroy.

On November 26, 2003, a Bergen County Grand Jury charged defendant Rasuan Thompson with nine counts of first-degree armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (Counts One through Nine); second-degree possession of a weapon, a firearm, for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a (Count Ten); third-degree possession of a weapon, a handgun, without a permit, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b (Count Eleven); third-degree resisting arrest, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2a(3)(a) (Count Twelve); third-degree hindering apprehension, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3 (Count Thirteen); and second-degree certain persons not to have weapons, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7b (Count Fifteen).*fn1

Following a denial of a motion to suppress evidence, defendant entered a plea of guilty on Count One in exchange for the State agreeing to recommend a maximum fourteen-year term of imprisonment, subject to the No Early Release Act*fn2 (NERA), and dismiss the balance of the charges. On December 14, 2004, defendant was sentenced to fourteen years of imprisonment, subject to the NERA, and five years of parole supervision upon release. All other charges were dismissed. Defendant appeals, and we affirm.

The salient facts, pertaining to the suppression motion as deduced from the testimony of Detective Timothy Torell and Patrolman Adolfo Gutierrez, both of the Englewood Police Department, the only witnesses to testify at the evidentiary hearing, are as follows. On August 3, 2003, defendant and co-defendant Jesus Pedraja entered a store in Englewood for the purpose of committing a robbery while defendant was in possession of a handgun. Unknown to defendant and Pedraja, the store had been under surveillance by Detective Torell. Torell observed the two perpetrators enter the store and exit approximately five minutes later, with Pedraja carrying a small, translucent, yellow bucket and defendant holding a handgun waist high, attempting to place the handgun into the waistband of his pants. After exiting the store, the two perpetrators entered a motor vehicle, fleeing the area, with the detective in pursuit, calling for backup.

Following the motor vehicle stop, defendant and Pedraja exited the vehicle with defendant pointing the handgun toward one of the backup officers. After Torell yelled, "Police. Don't do it," defendant fled while Pedraja was arrested at the scene of the stop. While at the scene, Torell looked inside the motor vehicle and saw the translucent, yellow bucket filled with money, jewelry, and a cell phone in plain view on the back seat. Defendant was arrested by Patrolman Gutierrez a short distance from the stop after discarding the handgun. After defendant was subdued, Gutierrez returned to the scene, picking up the discarded handgun as he proceeded back to the motor vehicle.

On appeal, defendant argues:

POINT I. THE COURT ERRED IN HAVING DENIED DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS BECAUSE THE POLICE DID NOT HAVE PROBABLE CAUSE TO SEIZE THE DEFENDANT OR HIS VEHICLE.

POINT II. THE SEARCH OF THE CAR WAS ILLEGAL BECAUSE THE POLICE WERE REQUIRED TO OBTAIN A SEARCH WARRANT BEFORE SEARCHING THE DEFENDANT'S VEHICLE.

POINT III. THE COURT FAILED TO ELICIT A FACTUAL BASIS FOR THE GUILTY PLEA AND THE DEFENDANT DID NOT UNDERSTAND THE NATURE OF THE CHARGES AGAINST HIM.

POINT IV. THE SENTENCE IMPOSED BY THE COURT WAS IMPROPER AND EXCESSIVE BECAUSE THE COURT APPLIED INCORRECT AG[G]RAVATING FACTORS AND IGNORED RELEVANT MITIGATING FACTORS, WHILE FAILING TO PROVIDE AN ADEQUATE EXPLANATION FOR THE FACTORS FOUND.

We have considered defendant's arguments in light of the record and applicable law. We determine that all of the arguments are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. ...


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