On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County, Indictment No. 05-06-803.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted November 6, 2008
Before Judges Stern, Waugh and Newman.
Defendant Dashawn George appeals his conviction, following a guilty plea, for one count of first-degree armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1. He contends that the motor vehicle stop that led to his arrest was illegal and also that the Family Part should not have waived jurisdiction over the charges against him, which were committed when he was seventeen years of age. He also appeals the sentence of ten years incarceration, with eighty-five percent of that term subject to parole ineligibility pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, arguing that his sentence was disproportionate to those received by his co-defendants. We affirm.
During the early morning of September 23, 2004, while on patrol, Police Officer Vincent Glenn heard a radio transmission regarding a robbery on Kennedy Boulevard in Jersey City. Three armed black males wearing ski-masks were described as having been involved.
Glenn and his partner, John Entman, drove toward Kennedy Boulevard and observed a blue Ford Explorer at the intersection of State Highway 139 and Collard Street. According to Glenn, the Explorer was traveling at a high rate of speed with its lights off. Glenn and Entman followed the vehicle. Glenn then activated the emergency lights and stopped the Explorer a few blocks later.
Glenn approached the driver's side and Entman approached the passenger's side. Glenn observed five male occupants in the vehicle. He saw a black ski mask on the driver's side dashboard. Entman removed the front-seat passenger, performed a pat down, and found a gun in the passenger's waistband. The other occupants were then removed from the car.
The driver also possessed a handgun. The police officers found three revolvers in the back seat in a makeup bag. The Explorer was impounded and subsequently searched. Purses, wallets, and jewelry were found in the rear "tailgate" area of the Explorer.
Police concluded that the purses found in the Explorer could not have been taken from the male victim who had reported the robbery. The police contacted two women whose identification was found in purses recovered from the Explorer. They learned that a second robbery, involving two women and a male, had taken place that same evening, at approximately 2:30 a.m., near the intersection of Fleet Street and Baldwin Avenue. The two women told the police that their purses and other personal property were taken by three to five masked black males with guns. They identified property found in the Explorer as belonging to them. Further investigation revealed additional criminal activity over the course of three days.
Three juvenile complaints were filed against George. FJ-09-942-05, filed September 24, 2004, charged three armed robberies and weapons offenses, all arising out of the incidents of September 23, 2004. FJ-09-1550-05, filed November 10, 2004, charged two additional armed robberies, conspiracy, and weapons offenses for activities on September 22, 2004. FJ-09-1551-05, also filed on November 10, 2004, charged two armed robberies, conspiracy, and weapons offenses for activities on September 21, 2004.
The State applied to the Chancery Division, Family Part to have all three juvenile complaints against George waived to the Law Division, Criminal Part. The State's applications were granted by Judge Mark A. Baber. George was subsequently indicted and charged with armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (counts 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17); possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a) (counts 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18); conspiracy to commit armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 and 2C:15-1 (counts 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24); possession of hollow-nose bullets, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3(f) (count 27); theft by receiving stolen property, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7 (count 28); and possession of a handgun without a permit, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b) and 2C:58-4 (counts 31, 32, 33). Co-defendants James Ensley, Vincent Jenkins, Taurian West, and Rodney Chapple were also charged in the indictment.
George moved to suppress the evidence seized as a result of the September 23, 2004, traffic stop. The motion was denied on December 2, 2005, by Judge Paul M. DePascale. On March 6, 2006, George pled guilty to a single count of first-degree armed robbery. The State agreed to recommend a period of incarceration of twelve years, with an eighty-five percent NERA disqualification period. At the plea hearing, George acknowledged his involvement in the armed robbery that involved Lisa Lugo, the owner of one of the purses found in the Explorer. He testified that, during the theft, he produced a handgun in order to frighten Lugo.
George was sentenced on May 19, 2006. Judge DePascale found aggravating factors three and nine, and no mitigating factors. N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1. Although the State recommended twelve years of incarceration, Judge DePascale imposed a sentence of ten years ...