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State v. Wright

July 8, 2009

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
JAMES WRIGHT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment No. 01-11-4654.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted March 24, 2009

Before Judges Parker and Yannotti.

Defendant James Wright appeals from a judgment of conviction entered on January 13, 2004 after a jury found him guilty on five counts of second degree sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2c(4), and two counts of third degree endangering the welfare of a child, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4. A report done by the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center (ADTC) found that defendant was eligible for sentencing to ADTC under the New Jersey Sex Offender Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:47-3. Defendant was sentenced to an aggregate term of six years subject to 85% parole ineligibility pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2; three years parole supervision after his release; and community supervision for life pursuant to Megan's Law, N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2. We affirm.

The facts relevant to this appeal are as follows. The victim, J.P., and his mother joined a church of which defendant and his family were members. In March 2000, when J.P. was fourteen years old, the Pastor spoke with his mother in the presence of defendant, defendant's wife and a Deacon of the church, and disclosed that there had been a sexual encounter between defendant and J.P. The Pastor told those present that the matter should remain within the church community and that there would be no attempt to prosecute or sue any fellow Christians.

Although J.P.'s mother did not voice any objections at the time of the meeting, she later changed her mind when her son began having trouble in school because the matter had leaked out and he was being teased by schoolmates. J.P. began counseling because he was, by then, suffering from emotional disturbances. Almost a year after learning of the incidents, J.P.'s mother finally reported them to the Prosecutor's Office.

In June 2001, when defendant was arrested, he gave a statement in which he acknowledged sexual encounters with J.P. beginning in 1999, when the boy was fourteen. Defendant claimed, however, that he believed the boy was sixteen and had consented to the relationship. Defendant also acknowledged sexual relationships with two other boys, both of whom testified at trial.

In this appeal, defendant argues:

POINT ONE

THE COURT ERRED IN DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS HIS STATEMENT MADE WHILE IN POLICE CUSTODY WHERE SAME WAS MADE IN VIOLATION OF HIS FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS TO DUE PROCESS

POINT TWO

THE COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN DENYING DEFENDANT'S REQUEST FOR A MISTRIAL; AND/OR CURING THE TESTIMONY OF WITNESS KP WHERE HE WAS A HOSTILE WITNESS REFUSING TO ANSWER ...


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