On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment No. 02-04-1363.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted December 3, 2008
Before Judges Rodríguez and Waugh.
Defendant Steven St. Fleur appeals from the August 22, 2007 order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.
In June 2003, defendant was convicted by a jury of second-degree conspiracy to commit murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2; first-degree murder of Emmanuel Previllon, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1)(2); third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b; and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a. Defendant was acquitted of the murder of Edner Pierre and the aggravated assault of Reginald Fils. Judge Michael L. Ravin imposed a custodial term of thirty years with a thirty-year period of parole ineligibility on the murder charge. The conspiracy charge and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose charge merged with the murder charge, and a concurrent four-year term was imposed on the unlawful possession of a weapon charge. We affirmed on direct appeal. State v. St. Fleur, No. A-4557-03T4 (App. Div. Oct. 12, 2006), certif. denied, 189 N.J. 428 (2007).
The facts of the offense are fully set forth in our opinion on direct appeal. Briefly, on July 28, 2001, a large barbecue was held in Maplewood. Defendant and co-defendants Greg Ulysse and Fangshiyu Floxeril were at the barbecue. Emmanuel Previllon and Edner Pierre were also in attendance. A confrontation began when Ulysse entered the party and saw Previllon looking at Ulysse's girlfriend. Ulysse shouted at Previllon that he was going to kill him. Defendant was somewhere in the crowd.
Ulysse then crossed the street only to return about two minutes later, bringing a group of men with him, including defendant.
When the group of men returned to the party, the argument continued. Ulysse passed Florexil an automatic gun. Florexil then took a few steps toward Previllon and pushed him. Moments later, Ulysse took the gun back from Florexil and fired a shot into the air. At this point, the police arrived and everyone at the party dispersed.
Reginald Fils and Emmanuel Marrow left the barbecue. They then met up with Previllon, Pierre and Andre Richmond in Irvington. Marrow returned home while Fils, Previllon, Pierre and Richmond continued on to a party at Richmond's house in Newark.
Approximately forty-five minutes to an hour later, a black Pathfinder pulled up outside of Richmond's house. Fils testified that as the vehicle pulled up he could see Ulysse in the front passenger seat. Florexil, the owner of the Pathfinder, was the driver. Edson Sainte and defendant were the other two occupants of the Pathfinder. Ulysse signaled to Previllon with a hand wave to meet him down on the corner of Kerrigan Boulevard and Varsity Road. Richmond decided he did not want to go, however, Fils, Pierre and Previllon decided to drive to the corner in an Acura.
As Previllon got close to where the Pathfinder was parked, he began to backup the Acura. Pierre yelled, "Emmanuel, guns." Previllon panicked. The rear of the Acura hit the front of the Pathfinder. Sainte, a passenger in the Pathfinder, testified that Ulysse exited the vehicle with a gun, the same gun he saw Ulysse place in the center console after the shooting.
Pierre, who was sitting in the front passenger seat of the Acura, was shot in the head and killed while still in the car. Fils and Previllon ran from the vehicle in different directions. Fils made it to a taxi, which he took back to Irvington. Previllon was later found dead on the sidewalk.
Florexil, was shot on the left side of his back. He testified to hearing about fifteen shots. While still on the ground, he saw that defendant had a revolver in his hands.
After the shooting, Ulysse, Sainte and defendant drove Florexil to the hospital. While driving to the hospital, Sainte testified to hearing Ulysse say, "I think I hit one" and defendant responding with, "I think I got one too." Sainte also heard defendant say to Ulysse, "we got to lay low for a while."
Defendant testified that he did not have a gun at the time of the shooting and rather, upon hearing the gunshots, ran behind the Pathfinder and laid on the ground. Defendant testified that the only person he saw with a gun was Ulysse.
According to defendant, after leaving the hospital, he stopped by his house, and then he and Ulysse went to Allentown, Pennsylvania. It was common for him to go to Allentown because his son and son's mother lived there. Defendant admitted to saying "we have to lay low for a while," but testified that he was not worried about the police, but rather, that someone would come after him from the shooting.
Five months later, defendant was stopped while driving a motor vehicle displaying an expired inspection sticker in Allentown. Defendant produced a New Jersey driver's license with a different name. A computerized license plate check revealed that the license had been suspended by the State of New Jersey. The driver's license was seized and the vehicle impounded. However, defendant was released.
Subsequent police investigation connected defendant to the double homicide in Newark. Further investigation led to a house at Prospect Avenue in Allentown where Ulysse was located. Ulysse was arrested. Later that same day, police officers responded to another address defendant was known to frequent. There, the mother of defendant's son answered the door and gave the officers consent to search the residence. Defendant was found sleeping in the basement. He was placed under arrest. A search of the premises was conducted, which yielded a red knapsack, containing a .38 caliber revolver with five spent bullet casings and one empty chamber.
A few days later, the police searched an Acura Legend. A Bryco semiautomatic pistol was found in the vehicle. Lens Dextra, owner of the vehicle, testified he did not know how the gun got there.
Newark Police Detective Luis Alarcon, an expert in the field of firearms and ballistics examination, testified that the nine-millimeter casings found at the scene, as well as the first three projectiles tested, including one received from the medical examiner, were discharged from the Bryco semiautomatic pistol found in Dextra's vehicle. Alarcon determined that this pistol was used to kill Previllon. Alarcon further testified that the remaining five casings, as well as the other three projectiles, including one received from the medical examiner, were fired from the Smith & Wesson .38 ...