On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Indictment No. 03-01-0092.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted February 11, 2009
Before Judges Waugh and Newman.
Tried by a jury, defendant Alduha Davis was found guilty of distribution of a controlled dangerous substance (cocaine), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3) (count one), and distribution of a controlled dangerous substance (cocaine) in or within 500 feet of public housing, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1. The trial court sentenced defendant on the second-degree offense under count two to eight years imprisonment with a two-year period of parole ineligibility. Count one was merged into count two. The usual penalties, fines and loss of license sanction were imposed. Defendant appeals. We affirm.
The relevant facts may be summarized as follows. At approximately 9:20 a.m. on August 1, 2001, Detectives Frank Sebasco and Kevin McDonough of the Elizabeth Police Department, Narcotics Unit, were conducting surveillance in the area of East Grand Street and Reid Street. They were in a black Lincoln Continental and Detective Sebasco was using binoculars. Three people were observed loitering on the southeast corner of East Grand and Reid Streets.
Within five minutes after the surveillance began, an individual, later identified as Willie Singley, approached defendant and engaged in a brief conversation. Defendant then walked to an alleyway next to 177 Reid Street. He could not be observed for several minutes. When defendant returned, he motioned to Singley. Singley handed defendant what looked like currency. In exchange, defendant handed Singley a small item which he had cupped in his hand. As Singley walked away, he held up the item received from defendant which was small and square.
Detective Sebasco gave Singley's description and direction of travel to back-up units who then arrested Singley. The officer found cocaine in Singley's possession. Defendant rode away on a bicycle. Detective Sebasco directed the back-up unit to stop defendant. Defendant was stopped, and had $537 in cash, but no narcotics. Defendant was arrested.
On appeal, defendant raises the following issues for our consideration:
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN PERMITTING DETECTIVE SEBASCO TO RENDER EXPERT TESTIMONY ON THE ISSUE OF INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE NARCOTICS (Not raised below).
THE STATE FAILED TO PROVE BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT THE ELEMENTS OF INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE DRUGS; CONSEQUENTLY THE CONVICTIONS ON ...