On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. SVP-62-00.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Parrillo and Baxter.
R.A. appeals from an August 22, 2007 order of the Law Division continuing his involuntary commitment to the Special Treatment Unit (STU), pursuant to the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24 to -27.38, for a term of one year. After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we affirm.
In 1977, defendant, who was born on June 8, 1942, was found guilty of rape and kidnapping among other offenses, and sentenced to an aggregate term of 47 years in prison. In 1978, he was found guilty of atrocious assault and threat to kill and assault with a dangerous instrument and sentenced to seven years, with a six-year minimum, on each count, that is, 21 years, with an 18-year minimum term. Defendant appealed that conviction and this court directed that the conviction for assault with a dangerous instrument merge into the conviction for threat to kill; his sentence was accordingly reduced to 12 to 14 years.
Each of the convictions was based upon separate assaults in 1976 upon 16-year-old girls. Although defendant was not charged with a sexually-related offense for the second incident, defendant admitted subsequently that his plan had been to rape the second victim, but when he encountered difficulties, he threw her off a bridge.
R.A. was paroled in 1992 and immediately violated the terms of his parole by leaving the State. He was later apprehended in Arizona, in possession of a stolen car and a loaded handgun. His passenger in the car at the time, M.L.R., who is currently on Florida's death row, told the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office that R.A. spoke about picking up and killing women. R.A. was returned to prison because of his parole violation.
R.A. was again released on parole on March 9, 2000, but because he failed to register as a sex offender as required by Megan's Law, N.J.S.A. 2C:7-1 to -11, and, after a nationwide manhunt, R.A. was arrested on March 20, 2000.
On March 24, 2000, the State filed a petition seeking R.A.'s civil commitment pursuant to the SVPA. On September 20, 2000, following a hearing, R.A. was committed to the Northern Regional Unit as a sexually violent predator. He has had periodic reviews thereafter -- on July 24, 2001, August 1, 2003, and May 12, 2005 -- at which commitment was continued. We affirmed each of these orders. See In re Civil Commitment of R.A., No. A-0126-01T3 (App. Div. Jan. 24, 2003) (slip op. at 5-6); In re Civil Commitment of R.A., No. A-0164-03T2 (App. Div. Mar. 17, 2005) (slip op. at 5-7); In re Civil Commitment of R.A., No. A-0486-04T2 (App. Div. May 23, 2007) (slip op. at 5-7).
At the most recent review hearing on August 22, 2007, the State produced two experts, Dr. Luis Zeiguer, a psychiatrist, and Dr. Brian Friedman, a psychologist. R.A. did not attend and offered no witnesses although counsel fully participated. R.A. refused to be interviewed by Dr. Zeiguer, who nevertheless based his evaluation on a review of R.A.'s file including treatment notes. Dr. Zeiguer diagnosed R.A. with a most severe antisocial personality disorder and paraphilia N.O.S. on Axis I and II, and found no evidence that R.A. was "remorseful over the atrocious injuries that he inflicted." According to Dr. Zeiguer, R.A. would be unlikely to comply with a supervised program if released because, upon his previous release in 2000, he ignored his requirement to register under Megan's Law as a sex offender, violated his parole, and was eventually arrested in another state with a stolen car and another felon in which the two men were planning to commit deadly sex offenses. Moreover, R.A.'s progress in treatment has been minimal. As Dr. Zeiguer testified on cross-examination:
[O]nce [R.A's] in treatment, he's not willing to do what they ask him to do which is to talk about his sexual crimes, his deviant arousals, and . . . that he doesn't do. So he . . . didn't do anything that would tend to indicate that he has changed his personality. He's not complying with what they are asking him to say. He shows his body there, he's polite, but what they are asking him to say he's not willing to say it.
Consequently, Dr. Zeiguer concluded that there is an "extremely high" risk that R.A. will sexually re-offend in the foreseeable future unless he is ...