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State v. Williams

March 4, 2009

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
SANFORD WILLIAMS, JR., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
JAMES WILLIAMS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County, Indictment No. 05-05-0425.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted December 9, 2008

Before Judges Fuentes and Chambers.

In these back to back appeals, defendants Sanford Williams, Jr., and James Williams appeal from their convictions by a jury for fourth degree criminal mischief, N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3(a)(1), and fourth degree resisting arrest, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2(a)(2). The trial court sentenced each defendant to a term of imprisonment of eighteen months on each conviction, with the sentences to run consecutively, so that each defendant has an aggregate term of three years. The trial court also imposed the requisite monetary fees and penalties. On appeal, defendants challenge both their convictions and sentences. Finding no error, we affirm.

These convictions arose from events that occurred on the evening of October 9, 2004, in East Windsor Township. Officer Brian Mattek testified that while responding to a call, he heard a loud banging noise coming from a nearby gas station and called for responding units. In response, Officer Christopher Jackson drove his marked police vehicle into the gas station where he observed two men standing near the vending machines with a large sledgehammer.

As soon as the two men spotted Officer Jackson's police vehicle, they ran away. As they were running, Officer Jackson observed the men discard the sledgehammer and other items. He gave chase first in his vehicle and then on foot. Officer Mattek and Officer Matthew Flynn joined in the chase. Officers Jackson and Flynn temporarily lost sight of the suspect they were chasing.

Meanwhile Officer Mattek successfully captured the other suspect, later identified as defendant Sanford Williams, Jr., and with the assistance of the other officers, Mattek arrested this defendant. After Sanford Williams, Jr., was given his Miranda*fn1 rights, he said to Officer Mattek "[i]t wasn't my idea. My buddy needed money. And you know, I have been arrested for this before" and "I know this was a stupid idea."

Thereafter, Officers Flynn and Jackson observed the second suspect jump from behind some bushes and run away. They gave chase and captured this suspect who was later identified as defendant James Williams. The defendants are brothers.

Seventy-nine single dollar bills were found on the person of James Williams. Officer Flynn found the sledgehammer, a bag with tools, soda cans, loose change, and a coin slot that looked like it came from a vending machine in the roadway by the gas station where the suspects had been running. He also found crowbars nearby. When he went back to the gas station, he saw that the vending machines had been "destroyed;" the machines had been taken apart and the coin slots removed.

Defendants were charged with third degree criminal mischief and fourth degree resisting arrest. The trial court denied their motions to suppress. Sanford Williams's motion challenging the sufficiency of his Miranda warnings was also denied.

In a pretrial application, defense counsel for James Williams requested that either the trial of the co-defendants be severed or that the statement of Sanford Williams, Jr., to the police be deleted. At the request of the trial court, the statement of Sanford Williams, Jr., was sanitized. At trial, Officer Mattek testified to the statement as follows:

Q: Officer, did the defendant, Sanford Williams, say anything to you after you gave him his Miranda warnings?

A: Yes.

Q: Did he . . . say words to the effect, "this was not my idea"?

A: Yes, he did.

Q: Did he say further that, something to the effect, ...


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