On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Essex County, FJ-07-1624-06.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted: December 3, 2007
Before Judges A.A. Rodríguez and C.L. Miniman.
This is an appeal from an adjudication of delinquency by a judge of the Family Part predicated upon the judge's finding that the defendant committed an offense equivalent to the adult offenses of third-degree aggravated assault and third-degree conspiracy to commit third-degree aggravated assault, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(7) and 2C:5-2, respectively. Defendant was sentenced to one year of probation conditioned on no contact with the victim and certain other requirements.
On October 20, 2005, the victim, M.E., a tenth-grade student, left the cafeteria during his lunch break to go to the restroom, which was located down the hall on the left side of the cafeteria. No one was in the restroom when M.E. arrived. While M.E. was washing his hands after using the restroom, he was assaulted from the rear. He turned to defend himself and the assault by a group of juveniles continued. M.E. was hit on his head, face and other places, but could not say how many times he was hit. Other than the juveniles assaulting M.E., no one else was in the restroom during the assault. The assailants left the restroom before the victim.
As the victim emerged from the restroom with his face bleeding, he was met by Police Officer Derrick Moses, who was assigned to the school and who had been summoned by a custodian because of the disturbance. M.E. was moaning and complaining of pain and dizziness. The officer escorted M.E. to the nurse's office and M.E. was then taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a fractured jaw. At the hospital M.E.'s jaw was wired top and bottom.
The school in question has a substantial number of surveillance cameras installed throughout the building. School officials and the police reviewed the surveillance tapes and were able to identify the juveniles who entered the restroom after the victim and departed from it before the victim emerged. Four juveniles were arrested and charged with assault and conspiracy to commit assault. The school promptly prepared for the police a composite tape of the three surveillance cameras showing the hallway between the cafeteria and the bathroom. The original recordings were purged after thirty days as part of the school's regular practice.
None of the assailants were known to the victim, but he recognized three of the four juveniles who had been charged in connection with the assault upon him. He could not testify specifically as to which of those three juveniles actually assaulted him. At trial the Family Part judge dismissed the charges against the one juvenile whom the victim could not identify at all. The remaining juveniles were all adjudicated delinquent.
Defendant raises two issues on appeal:
THERE WAS INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO FIND THE DEFENDANT GUILTY OF AGGRAVATED ASSAULT.
A. THERE WAS NO COMPETENT EVIDENCE OF THE ALLEGED VICTIM'S INJURIES. ...