On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Indictment No. 04-06-1541.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted November 13, 2007
Before Judges Lintner, Graves and Sabatino.
Following a seven-day jury trial, defendant Ikino O. Williams was convicted of first-degree attempted murder, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1 and N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3, and second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a; Defendant received a nineteen-year prison sentence, subject to an 85% parole disqualifier under the No Early Release Act ("NERA"), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. He now appeals his convictions and his sentence, which we affirm in all respects.
The State's proofs at trial adduced the following facts, which are relevant to the issues raised on appeal. The events in question occurred in Asbury Park in December 2003. At the time, defendant was living with his girlfriend Eileen Stevens, with whom he has a son, at her house on Summerfield Avenue. The victim of the attempted murder, Kevin Geddes, was a friend of Stevens's. For reasons not apparent from the record, Geddes kept most of his clothing stored in Stevens's basement. Geddes stopped at Stevens's house nearly every day, and had frequent contact with defendant. Defendant and Geddes did not get along, and they had exchanged words on prior occasions.
On the afternoon of December 21, 2003, defendant and Geddes argued about money in a telephone conversation. During that call, defendant was at Stevens's house and Geddes was elsewhere. After hanging up the phone, Geddes decided to go over to Summerfield Avenue and confront defendant in person. According to Geddes, when he arrived, the two men had a "confrontation" on the street in front of Stevens's house, and then a "scuffle." At one point, the two men broke apart, and, according to Geddes, defendant then brandished a knife. In response, Geddes picked up a piece of wood lying nearby and smashed out the windows on defendant's Porsche that was parked in front of the house.
At this point, defendant allegedly told Geddes, "I'll be back. I'm going to get my heat." Defendant then drove away in a white car with two friends, David Holman, whose nickname was "Peto," and a man Geddes knew only as "Sway." Geddes knew that the term "heat" referred to a gun, but he did not take defendant's threat at the time seriously. Geddes left the scene and went to his brother's house nearby for about a half-hour. He then returned to Stevens's house. Also present at Stevens's house at this time were her father, Leland Washington, and Geddes's former girlfriend, Diana Overton.
According to Geddes, as he approached Stevens's house, he recognized the same white car that defendant had driven away parked a short distance up the street. Geddes saw three people in the car, but could not discern their identities. After he entered Stevens's house, Holman came inside and allegedly told Geddes, referring to defendant, "he['s] out there. You need to get it over with. Fight one on one." Geddes obliged. As he was leaving the house Geddes picked up a bottle, intending to smash defendant's car again with it. However, Geddes contended that he dropped the bottle on the lawn after Holman told him he would not need it. Overton, however, testified that Geddes threw the bottle at the Porsche, smashing yet another of its windows.
As Geddes approached the white car, expecting then to fight defendant, the driver side door opened. Geddes then heard a gunshot. Geddes saw defendant get out of the car, and he realized he was being fired at. The initial shot missed Geddes, but as he turned to flee, a second shot hit him in the buttocks and he fell to the ground. Geddes was hit twice more, and then he turned over on the ground and saw defendant approaching with the gun. As Geddes testified, "[defendant] was walking up on me, stood over top of me, [and] started shooting me."
As Geddes further recounted, defendant, standing over Geddes, then continued to fire at him, hitting him several times, in the stomach, legs, arm and hand. Meanwhile, Geddes tried to roll away and cover his face from the gunfire. Geddes then heard Holman yell to defendant, "Face, come on. It's the police coming." Defendant stopped shooting, and drove away in the white car. At trial, Geddes identified defendant as the person who shot him, and also testified that he knew defendant by his street name, "Face."
Diana Overton, Geddes's ex-girlfriend, testified at trial that she was present at Stevens's house when Geddes was shot. She generally corroborated Geddes's account of what happened. Overton specifically testified that she witnessed the first fight between defendant and Geddes, when she saw the two men "square up in the middle of the street." Overton also stated that she saw defendant pull a knife on Geddes, and saw Geddes smash defendant's car windows out with a piece of wood. After defendant and Geddes went their separate ways the first time, she saw defendant return to Stevens's house, wearing different clothes. He went upstairs to speak with Stevens. After about five minutes, defendant left the house, and Overton assumed he had left the area. Shortly after that, Geddes returned to the house. Geddes told Overton that he intended to fight defendant if he returned. Holman then came into the house and told Geddes that defendant was outside waiting for him.
Overton testified that, at this point, she urged Geddes not to go back outside and face defendant, because "[i]t didn't feel right." Upon learning that defendant's car was parked up the street in a more darkly-lit area, she became uneasy about the situation.
After Geddes followed Holman outside, Overton also went outside onto the porch, while the others remained in the house.
From her vantage point, Overton saw Geddes smash more windows out of defendant's Porsche. She then observed Geddes walk towards the car across the street in which defendant, Holman, and "Sway" were sitting.
Overton saw defendant get out of the car and fire a gun at Geddes. She testified hearing a total of six shots. She saw defendant walking towards Geddes, who was lying the middle of the street. Overton then watched defendant get into the white car and drive away.
At this point, Overton, who had CPR training, ran to where Geddes was lying in the street and called 9-1-1 for help. She attempted to put pressure on Geddes's stomach wound to stop the bleeding. Not long thereafter, an ambulance arrived.
About two hours after the shooting, Overton went to police headquarters and gave a statement recounting what she saw. She identified defendant, by both his full name and his ...