On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Hudson County, Docket Nos. FJ 09-808-08 (J.T), FJ 09-812-08 (J.W.) and FJ 09-813-08 (R.T.).
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 15, 2008
Before Judges Yannotti and LeWinn.
The State appeals pursuant to leave granted from the January 18, 2008 orders of the Family Part denying the State's motion to waive jurisdiction of that court over criminal charges brought against three juveniles identified as J.T., R.T. and J.W. For the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.
The State charged these three juveniles, along with a fourth juvenile, D.T., who was not a subject of the waiver application, with offenses which, if committed by an adult, would constitute first-degree robbery, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1, and second-degree aggravated assault, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(1). The charges arose from an incident that occurred on August 25, 2007, when J.T., J.W. and D.T. attacked Robert Wilkerson,*fn1 punched and beat him until he fell to the ground and then demanded that he turn over his wallet. Wilkerson told the juveniles he had no money, and one of the juveniles then went through Wilkerson's pockets, retrieved his wallet and discovered that it did not contain any money. R.T. videotaped this entire incident and later posted the video on the internet.
The State moved before the Family Part to refer J.T., R.T. and J.W. to the Law Division for trial pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-26(a)(2)(a) and Rule 5:22-2.
At the hearing on the State's waiver motion, Detective Mark Conroy of the Jersey City Police Department testified that as a result of the police investigation into the incident, he took statements from J.T. and D.T. J.T. stated that on the date in question, he and his older brother were "hanging out on a porch" with J.W. and R.T. when an individual, later identified as Wilkerson, walked by, stopped and "said something disrespectful to them[,] then continued walking . . . ." J.T. told Conroy that:
The four of them ran off the porch and caught this male at the corner of Bramhall and Martin Luther King Drive when his brother punched the male in the back of the head and he punched the male in the back of the head and finally, [J.W.] hit the male knocking him to the ground.
All three males continued to punch and kick this male several times while [R.T.] was recording this incident with a digital camera . . . .
Conroy's notes of his interview with D.T. refer to the incident as "the date of this robbery/aggravated assault." D.T. stated that he saw J.W. and the other two juveniles "beating up some guy" while R.T. "was recording the whole thing." According to D.T.:
The guy got up off the ground and walked out of the area. A few minutes later we seen the same guy coming and we all started to hit him again while [R.T.] recorded us with the video camera. Then [R.T.] went through the man's pockets taking out his wallet and going through it, but he didn't have any money.
We all left Bramhall after that and went back to [J.W.]'s house . . . to watch the video that [R.T.] ...