May 13, 2010
STATE OF NEW JERSEY IN THE INTEREST OF I.G., A/K/A I.M.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Union County, Docket No. FJ-20-2167-07, FJ-20-160-08, and FJ-403-08.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted April 28, 2010
Before Judges Stern and Graves.
I.G. was adjudicated delinquent as a juvenile for first-degree robbery, possession of a firearm without a permit, and possession of the weapon for unlawful purpose,*fn1 and committed to the Juvenile Reception Center of Jamesburg Training School for Boys for forty months. The juvenile argues that the State did not prove the robbery and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose charges by proof beyond a reasonable doubt*fn2 and that the improper admission of evidence, including defendant's hooded sweatshirt and jeans, requires a reversal of the adjudications.
I.G. contends the judge disregarded the "exculpatory evidence" of the store owner and convicted him merely because he was in the room where the proceeds of the robbery and the clothes of a perpetrator were found, and that he was not identified by the victim. Moreover, he contends that the trial judge never considered lesser included offenses.
The victim, Pierre Fan Fan, could not identify the juvenile because he was wearing a ski mask. He had pointed a gun at the victim and the other perpetrator had a knife. About $440 was taken from the victim and his cash register. Fan Fan thought he was "going to die," during the incident.
When the perpetrators left his store, Fan Fan followed them in his car to 573 Jefferson Avenue, without losing sight of them. The police responded to the scene and entered the premises after which they called in Fan Fan. The gun was found, as was $442, the approximate amount of cash taken during the robbery.
On the third floor two juveniles were found. Upon seeing them, Fan Fan yelled "those are the guys that robbed me." Clothes were found near the mattress on which I.G. was lying in his underwear, but Fan Fan could not relate the clothes to either perpetrator,*fn3 except for the coat the one who entered without the ski mask was wearing.
Aziana Thermitus, the girlfriend of the brother of Dahens Lucien, an occupant of the apartment, saw I.G. holding the gun when he entered. She and Dahens were told by I.G. not to "snitch." Dahens was later told by I.G. that his accomplice was "not going to let him down" and was "going to take the charge."
I.G. also told him how he committed the robbery.
As noted at the outset, I.G. claims there was insufficient evidence to convict him by proof beyond a reasonable doubt and that the judge should have considered some unspecific and non-requested lesser offense. We summarily reject that contention. State v. Locurto, 157 N.J. 463, 471 (1999); State in the Interest of R.V., 280 N.J. Super. 118, 121 (App. Div. 1995).
See also State v. Brent, 137 N.J. 107, 116-17 (1994). There was no objection to the admission of the jeans and hooded sweatshirt into evidence, and I.G. now claims there was no proof of the necessary "chain of custody." One of the arresting officers testified that although he did not collect the garments or have them tagged for identification, they were collected and tagged, and placed on the inventory list. We find no basis to reverse the conviction. See State v. Morton, 155 N.J. 383, 446 (1998), cert. denied, 532 U.S. 931, 121 S.Ct. 1380, 149 L.Ed. 2d 306 (2001); State v. Brown, 99 N.J. Super. 22, 27 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 51 N.J. 468 (1968), R. 2:11-3(e)(2).