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State v. Santiago

May 3, 2010

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
CARLOS SANTIAGO, A/K/A JOSE MORALES, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, Indictment No. 06-07-0689.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted April 21, 2010

Before Judges Fisher and Sapp-Peterson.

In this appeal, we consider whether defendant's conviction should be reversed and a new trial ordered based on defendant's claims that the prosecutor engaged in misconduct during his summation "by boldly expressing his personal belief of the strength of the case," and by using "language which attempted to highlight the victim's race." Defendant also argues that his sentence was excessive. We reject these contentions and affirm.

The jury heard evidence during a two-day trial from which it could conclude that defendant, while working in a supermarket in Springfield, overheard a co-worker speak about a limitation on overtime for some employees. Thinking this referred to him, defendant accosted Quadir Canty in the mens' room. Canty testified that he retreated to the ladies' room, but defendant followed and continued his angry tirade. Canty explained what thereafter occurred in the following way:

Q: [W]hile walking in the bathroom, did he threaten you?

A: Yes.

Q: Did he threaten your life?

A: Yes, he did.

Q: Did . . . he refer to you by any other names or terms?

A: Of course, he called me out of my name. As we was walking, I told him I ain't going to fight. He said he want to fight. He called me a nigger, all of that. I took it in. And he said he want to kill me. He was talking out of his mind. He was acting out of the ordinary. He wasn't even himself.

Without further warning, defendant struck out with a boxcutter, wounding Canty's face, his left and right upper arm, and underneath one armpit.*fn1

The jury found defendant guilty of: second-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(1); third-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(2); fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(d); and third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(d). The judge imposed an eight-year prison term with an 85% period of parole ...


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