On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Criminal Part, Middlesex County, Ind. No. 05-09-01280.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted January 15, 2008
Before Judges Fuentes and Chambers.
After a jury trial, defendant was found guilty of conspiracy in the second degree in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 (count one); armed robbery in the first degree in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (count two); criminal restraint in the third degree in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:13-2 (count three); possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose in the second degree in violation of 2C:39-4(a) (count eight); unlawful possession of a weapon in the third degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b) and 2C:58-4 (count nine); and aggravated assault in the third degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b) (count eleven). The trial court merged count eleven into count two, and provided that sentences on all counts would run concurrently. On count two, the most serious count, defendant was sentenced to fifteen years in prison with an eighty-five percent parole disqualifier under the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. On count one, defendant was sentenced to seven years, subject to NERA, plus five years parole supervision at the end of that sentence. On count three, defendant was sentenced to four years. Defendant was sentenced to seven years on count eight and four years on count eleven. Restitution of $405 was ordered to the victim and the requisite fees and monetary penalties were imposed.
The charges arose from events that took place on July 8, 2005, when the victim entered a house of prostitution in New Brunswick, where he was accosted by defendant and two others. A co-defendant pointed a gun at the victim while defendant pushed the victim to the floor. Defendant tied the victim up and took the sum of $550 from his pockets. The victim was then left in a room where two others were also tied up. The victim remained confined for about two hours until he was able to free himself.
On appeal, defendant raises the following arguments:
THE PROSECUTOR'S SUMMATION, DURING WHICH HE:
(1) REQUESTED THE JUROR'S [sic] TO VICARIOUSLY PLACE THEMSELVES IN THE ROLE OF THE VICTIM AND EXPERIENCE THE CRIME; (2) IMPROPERLY BOLSTERED THE CREDIBILITY OF THE STATE'S WITNESSES; AND (3) EXALTED HIS ROLE AS PROSECUTOR AND DISPARAGED DEFENSE COUNSEL, DEPRIVED THE DEFENDANT OF A FAIR TRIAL UNDER THE GUARANTEES OF THE STATE AND FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONS.
A. THE PROSECUTOR COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN HE REQUESTED THE JURORS TO VICARIOUSLY PLACE THEMSELVES IN THE ROLE OF THE VICTIM AND EXPERIENCE THE CRIME.
B. THE PROSECUTOR'S SUMMATION, DURING WHICH HE IMPROPERLY BOLSTERED THE CREDIBILITY OF THE STATE'S WITNESSES, DEPRIVED THE DEFENDANT OF A FAIR TRIAL UNDER THE GUARANTEES OF THE STATE AND FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONS.
C. THE PROSECUTOR'S SUMMATION, DURING WHICH HE EXALTED HIS ROLE AS PROSECUTOR AND DISPARAGED DEFENSE COUNSEL, DEPRIVED THE DEFENDANT A FAIR TRIAL UNDER THE ...