On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment No. 02-10-3691.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Wefing, Parker and Lyons.
Defendant Michael Bright appeals from a judgment of conviction entered on November 9, 2004 after a jury found him guilty of first degree murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(1) and (2); first degree attempted murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(3); two counts of third degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b); second degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a); and second degree eluding, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2(b). After the appropriate mergers, defendant was sentenced to an aggregate term of fifty-five years, thirty-five of which are subject to eighty-five percent parole ineligibility. We affirm.
These charges arose out of an incident that occurred on November 25, 2001. When a drug deal went awry, defendant began shooting at people in the hallway of 57 South Walnut Street, East Orange. Police Officer Paterson Pasteur testified that when he arrived at the scene, he saw five shell casings on the hallway floor. The victim of the shooting, Aleka Trought, was in the basement of the building. Trought was not responsive when the officer arrived and was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene. The medical examiner testified that Trought suffered five gunshot wounds. Another victim of the shooting, Basiyr Powell, took a cab to St. Michael's Hospital.
During the investigation, it was disclosed that Powell was the drug dealer and he admitted that he was shot after "a guy and girl came to rob him." Powell described the man who shot Trought as a thirty-seven or thirty-eight-year-old dark skinned, six-foot-one inch male with dreadlocks and wearing a "skullie."
Other eyewitnesses similarly described the individual, later identified as defendant.
On November 26, at about 11:45 p.m., East Orange Police Officer Altwain Burwell was on patrol when he observed a blue Isuzu with Virginia license plates. The driver matched the description of the shooter. Burwell attempted to stop the vehicle with his lights and sirens but defendant did not stop and led police on a high speed chase. When they reached the City of Elizabeth, Lt. Joseph Mularz of the Elizabeth Police Department, joined the chase. Defendant ran a red light and hit another vehicle on North Broad Street. After the collision, defendant spun around and headed toward Mularz. Defendant collided with the police vehicle, and his car was pinned to the curb. When defendant attempted to get out of his car, the officers saw him drop a black semi-automatic Glock handgun and a skullie. Mularz and Burwell arrested defendant and recovered the gun, which was loaded with nine rounds. Ballistics testing indicated that the five shell casings found at the scene of the shooting at 57 South Walnut Street came from the same gun.
In this appeal, defendant argues:
THE JURY'S EXPOSURE TO A NEWSPAPER ARTICLE THAT DESCRIBED DEFENDANT'S PRIOR RECORD DEPRIVED DEFENDANT OF THE RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW AND A FAIR TRIAL BY AN IMPARTIAL JURY. U.S. CONST. AMENDS. VI, XIV; N.J. CONST. (1947) ART. I, PARS. 1, 9, 10
IMPROPER SUMMATION REMARKS, OBSERVING THAT THE DEFENSE DID NOT PRESENT ITS OWN EXPERT WITNESS AND THAT DEFENDANT HAD NOT EXPLAINED HIS POSSESSION OF THE GUN THAT KILLED THE VICTIM, INFRINGED DEFENDANT'S PRIVILEGE AGAINST SELF-INCRIMINATION AND THE RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW AND A FAIR TRIAL. U.S. CONST. AMENDS. V, XIV; N.J. CONST. (1947) ART. I, PARS. 1, 9, 10. (Not Raised Below)
INADEQUATE JURY INSTRUCTIONS ON THE RISK OF DEATH OR INJURY AS AN ELEMENT OF SECOND-DEGREE ELUDING DEPRIVED DEFENDANT OF THE RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW AND A FAIR TRIAL. U.S. CONST. AMEND. XIV; N.J. ...