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State v. Stewart

January 7, 2009

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
PATRICIA STEWART, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cumberland County, Indictment No. 04-07-0782.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted November 10, 2008

Before Judges Lisa, Sapp-Peterson and Alvarez.

Defendant, Patricia Stewart, was charged with offenses in twelve counts of a forty-eight count indictment against her and others. Her husband, John Stewart, was charged in all forty-eight counts. Other individuals were charged in some counts. Most counts charged third-degree burglaries, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2, and related third-degree thefts, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3. Two counts pertaining to John Stewart involved unrelated charges and were severed. A number of counts were dismissed and not submitted to the jury. At the conclusion of the State's case, Judge Waters granted defendant's motion to dismiss eight of the counts against her. Therefore, only four counts pertaining to defendant were submitted to the jury. The jury acquitted defendant of three counts, and found her guilty of only one count of third-degree theft. The jury found John Stewart guilty of twenty-five counts.*fn1 The judge sentenced defendant to a three-year probationary term, conditioned upon serving 364 days in the county jail. Defendant was also ordered to perform fifty hours of community service work, pay all mandatory monetary assessments, and pay $7,000 in restitution to Lori Bertacci, the victim of the theft of which defendant was convicted.

On appeal, defendant argues:

POINT I

THE COURT SHOULD HAVE ENTERED A JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL REGARDING THE CHARGE THAT DEFENDANT COMMITTED A THEFT OF PROPERTY OF LORI BERTACCI.

POINT II

THE CHARGES AGAINST DEFENDANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SEVERED, AND DEFENDANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN TRIED SEPARATELY FROM JOHN STEWART.

POINT III

IRRELEVANT AND UNDULY PREJUDICIAL EVIDENCE WHICH AMOUNTED TO OTHER-CRIMES EVIDENCE WAS ADMITTED, DENYING DEFENDANT A FAIR TRIAL.

(Mostly not raised below).

POINT IV

DEFENDANT WAS DEPRIVED OF A FAIR TRIAL ON THE THEFT CHARGE OF WHICH SHE WAS CONVICTED BY THE COURT'S ERRONEOUS FAILURE TO ENTER A JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL IN HER FAVOR WITH REGARD TO CHARGES THAT SHE STOLE A 1989 HONDA ACCORD AND WAS IN POSSESSION OF THE VEHICLE KNOWING ITS VIN NUMBER HAD BEEN ALTERED.

POINT V

THE TRIAL COURT'S JURY INSTRUCTIONS HAD MULTIPLE DEFICIENCIES, DEPRIVING DEFENDANT OF A FAIR TRIAL. (Not raised below).

POINT VI

DEFENDANT'S SENTENCE WAS MANIFESTLY ...


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