On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Indictment No. 04-12-2798.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted December 18, 2007
Before Judges Skillman and Yannotti.
Defendant Ahmad D. Jones was charged under Monmouth County Indictment No. 04-12-2798 with second-degree eluding, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2b. Defendant was tried to a jury and found guilty. He appeals from the conviction and the sentence imposed. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
At trial, the State presented testimony from Officer Steven Adams of the Red Bank police department. Adams stated that on October 4, 2004, he was working the shift from 2:45 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. At around 5:45 p.m., Adams was traveling south on Leighton Avenue and he observed an older model Nissan Pathfinder with an expired inspection sticker traveling northbound. Adams activated the lights on his police vehicle and made a U-turn. Adams followed the Pathfinder but the vehicle did not pull over and increased its speed.
Adams activated his siren. He testified that the area of Leighton Avenue is a residential area, where houses are close together, and parking is allowed on both sides of the street. Adams stated that along that street, people are constantly getting into and out of their cars, and there are people on bicycles. He said when he was pursuing the Pathfinder, there were people on the sidewalk.
Adams testified that the speed limit on Leighton Avenue is twenty-five miles per hour and the Pathfinder was traveling at least sixty-five miles per hour. The vehicles rapidly approached a "T" intersection where Leighton meets Locust Avenue. There is a stop sign at the intersection and the vehicles must turn right or left. According to Adams, the Pathfinder was traveling at a high rate of speed, and turned left onto Locust Avenue, where the driver temporarily lost control of the vehicle, and drove up on the curb, onto the sidewalk, and back down into the street. Adams continued in pursuit. He made the left turn onto Locust and caught up to the Pathfinder.
Adams stated that the Pathfinder slowed significantly and the driver started to open the side door of the vehicle. Adams also slowed down. Adams said that he was going to exit his vehicle when the door of the Pathfinder closed and continued along Locust Avenue. Adams noted that that part of Locust Avenue is a residential area, although it is not as crowded as Leighton Avenue. There are two large apartment complexes in the area. The Pathfinder pulled into the complex at 105 Locust. Adams' lights and siren were still on.
According to Adams, the Pathfinder stopped abruptly. Adams positioned his vehicle about seven to ten feet behind the Pathfinder. He ordered the driver to exit the vehicle and show him his hands. The driver did not comply. Adams said that he opened the door of the Pathfinder and put the driver "into a hold to get him out of the vehicle." The driver stated that he would not go to jail for Adams or anyone else. Adams gained control of the driver and placed him on the ground. Adams ascertained that the driver was defendant, Ahmad Jones. He identified him in court as the person who was driving the Pathfinder on October 4, 2004.
Defendant did not testify at trial but called Joshua Meekings as a witness in his defense. Meekins testified that he has known defendant for about seven years and he considers him a friend. Meekins said that on October 4, 2004, he was exiting a liquor store on the corner of Leighton and Catherine Avenues. He saw defendant drive by in his vehicle. Defendant was traveling "pretty fast." Meekins saw defendant's vehicle pass over a speed bump and he heard "a loud sound."
Meekins stated that the police officer made a U-turn on Leonard Street and sped off in the same direction as defendant. Defendant and the officer headed towards Locust Avenue, where defendant turned left. Meekins said that the police car did not have its lights on. Meekins also stated that he did not hear a siren. He did not see the vehicles after they turned left onto Locust Avenue.
On this appeal, defendant raises the following ...