On appeal from the Superior Court of Warren County, Law Division, Indictment No. 06-07-259.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Gilroy and Baxter.
Tried to a jury, defendant was convicted of third-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(7). Following the jury's verdict, defendant filed a motion for a new trial, contending that the trial judge had erred by prohibiting him from cross- examining Lefkovitz, the victim of the assault, about Lefkovitz using cocaine one day prior to appearing before the Grand Jury. On January 29, 2007, the trial judge entered an order, which was supported by a written opinion, denying the motion. On March 2, 2007, defendant was sentenced to a term of five years of imprisonment, and was directed to pay $11,987.98 in restitution to Lefkovitz. All appropriate fines and penalties were imposed. Defendant appeals, and we affirm.
Because defendant does not contend that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence, we need only state the core facts to place the appeal in context. We will describe and discuss other facts as necessary in addressing the issues.
At approximately 1:30 a.m. on January 11, 2006, Lefkovitz observed defendant walking away from the home of Jessica McKenna, defendant's former girlfriend. Lefkovitz, in his attempt to greet defendant who he had known, was struck and knocked to the ground by defendant, causing multiple fractures of his nose and a severe laceration of his eye. As a result, Lefkovitz underwent two surgeries to rectify breathing problems caused by the injury.
Because McKenna had telephoned the police concerning someone pounding on her door sometime prior to the assault, the police arrived at the scene rather quickly. After Lefkovitz informed Patrolman Bittenmaster of the assault, defendant was found by Bittenmaster approximately one-half mile from the place of the incident. Although Bittenmaster did not arrest defendant at that time, he observed that defendant had "small blood dots" on his knuckles. On Lefkovitz signing a complaint, defendant was arrested, indicted, and tried.
On appeal, defendant argues:
THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERS[I]BLE ERROR IN LIMITING DEFENDANT'S CROSS-EXAMINATION OF THE STATE'S EYEWITNESS.
THE TRIAL JUDGE ERRED IN SENTENCING DEFENDANT AS THE PUNISHMENT WAS CREATED FOR THE CRIMINAL, RATHER THAN THE CRIME.
Defendant argues in Point I that the trial court erred by improperly barring him from cross-examining Lefkovitz concerning Lefkovitz's history of substance abuse. Defendant contends that cross-examining Lefkovitz regarding his substance abuse could have ...