On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, Indictment No. 07-02-0163.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Payne and Miniman.
On September 16, 2006, a bar fight took place between defendant, Scott Munroe, and Kareem Prunty at Nuno's Pavilion in Linden. During the course of that fight, Naji Hall was shot and killed and Roger Chapman, Bryan Wyatt, Scott Reddick, and defendant were each shot and wounded. A single gun was recovered, and it was established through ballistic testing that all ammunition found at the scene and recovered from the individuals who had been shot had come from that one gun. Ownership of the gun was not established.
Defendant was arrested for the crimes and was indicted in a nineteen-count indictment for the murder of Naji Hall,*fn1 N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3 (count one); attempted murder of Brian Wyatt, Scott Reddick, and Roger Chapman by possession of a firearm, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3 and 2C:5-1 (counts two, six and ten); aggravated assault (serious bodily injury) on the three survivors, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1) (counts three, seven and eleven); purposeful aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on the three survivors, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(2) (counts four, eight and twelve); aggravated assault by pointing of a firearm at the three survivors, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(4) (counts five, nine and thirteen); attempted murder of Kareem Prunty, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3 and 2C:5-1 (count fourteen); aggravated assault (serious bodily injury) on Kareem Prunty, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1) (count fifteen); purposeful aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on Kareem Prunty, N.J.S.A. 2C:12- 1b(2) (count sixteen); aggravated assault by pointing of a firearm at Kareem Prunty, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(4) (count seventeen); possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a (count eighteen); and possession of a weapon without a permit, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b (count nineteen). Additionally, in a separate indictment, defendant was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7b(1).
Trial took place in December 2008, at which Chapman, Wyatt, Reddick, defendant, and the mother of defendant's daughter, Ebanee Moore, testified, as did several police officers, a ballistics expert and a medical examiner. Additionally, images retrieved from multiple video surveillance cameras placed around Nuno's were repeatedly shown to the jury. Kareem Prunty did not appear at trial, despite a grant of immunity and issuance of a subpoena for his presence.
Evidence established unquestionably that Hall, Chapman, Wyatt, Reddick and defendant had been shot. Who did the shooting - defendant or Prunty - was far less clear, since the gun was seldom evident on the videos, struggles for possession of the weapon occurred, and the versions of events portrayed by the parties varied.
At the conclusion of the trial, the jury was instructed on the elements of the charged crimes as well as the lesser-included offenses of aggravated assault (significant bodily injury), N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(7), reckless aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(3), negligent assault with a deadly weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1a(2), aggravated manslaughter as to Hall, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4a(1), and reckless manslaughter as to Hall, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4b. Following deliberations, the jury reached a verdict on a majority of the counts, voting for acquittal on all charges relating to Prunty, charges of murder and aggravated manslaughter of Hall; charges relating to the survivors of attempted murder, aggravated assault (serious bodily injury), aggravated assault (significant bodily injury), purposeful aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, reckless aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and aggravated assault by pointing a deadly weapon; possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose; and unlawful possession of a weapon. The jury deadlocked on the charge of reckless manslaughter of Hall and on the charge of negligent assault with a deadly weapon as to Wyatt, Chapman and Reddick. The second indictment for possession of a weapon by a convicted felon was not tried.
In a post-verdict motion, defendant sought dismissal of the remaining charges under both indictments on grounds of collateral estoppel and double jeopardy. His motion was denied. Our denial of leave to appeal was reversed by the Supreme Court, and the matter was remanded to us for consideration on the merits. State v. Munroe, 199 N.J. 536 (2009).
On appeal, defendant makes the following legal arguments:
I. FURTHER PROSECUTION OF DEFENDANT BY THE STATE IS PRECLUDED BY THE DOUBLE JEOPARDY CLAUSE TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, U.S.A. CONST. AMEND. 5 AND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, N.J. CONST. ART. I, SEC. 10.
a. VERDICT RETURNED AFTER JURY TRIAL FINDING DEFENDANT NOT GUILTY OF WEAPON'S POSSESSION IS A VALID AND FINAL JUDGMENT, AND THE STATE IS BARRED FROM RE-LITIGATING SAME UNDER THE DOCTRINE OF COLLATERAL ESTOPPEL.
Following our review of the record in this matter,*fn2 together with the legal arguments ...