On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, Indictment No. 03-10-1039.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Lisa, R. B. Coleman and Alvarez.
Defendant Jamil Johnson was convicted in absentia on July 26, 2004, and sentenced on February 9, 2007, after the denial of his motion for a new trial. He now appeals. We affirm.
Defendant's points are as follows:
POINT I: THE TESTIMONY PERTAINING TO THE LEXUS VEHICLES VIS-À-VIS DEFENDANT WAS IRRELEVANT TO THE CASE AND ITS INHERENTLY UNDULY PREJUDICIAL NATURE AND EVIDENCE OF PRIOR BAD ACTS WAS SUCH THAT ITS ADMISSION AT TRIAL WAS REVERSIBLE ERROR.
POINT II: THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED PLAIN ERROR IN ALLOWING THE TRIAL TO COMMENCE IN DEFENDANT'S ABSENCE AND DENIED DEFENDANT HIS RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL.
POINT III: THE RECORD BELOW DEMONSTRATES THAT DEFENDANT DID NOT RECEIVE EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL, WHICH SERVED TO DENY HIM OF HIS CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL.
POINT IV: THE MOTION COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN ITS REFUSAL TO GRANT DEFENDANT-APPELLANT'S MOTION FOR A NEW TRIAL.
POINT V: THE SENTENCE IMPOSED BY THE COURT WAS GROSSLY EXCESSIVE AS A MATTER OF LAW.
Officers from the Elizabeth Police Department executed a no-knock search warrant on defendant's apartment on April 18, 2003. When Detective Kevin McDonough entered the premises, he first saw Marcus Johnson, defendant's brother, in the living room. He followed as defendant's brother attempted to flush 108 vials of cocaine down the toilet. As McDonough ran out of the living room, he saw defendant enter "from the kitchen area."
Additional items found in defendant's apartment included a piece of clear plastic containing cocaine residue, plastic bags with clear plastic vials in them, paper dust masks or face masks used by drug dealers to avoid the ingestion of cocaine powder, a dinner plate with a razor blade on top that had cocaine residue, empty magazine wrappers, forty-seven envelopes of heroin in a child's bedroom, and $2511 in cash in a front bedroom. When defendant was searched, $441 and keys for two Lexus vehicles were also seized. Defendant had been observed using both, although the vehicles were not registered in his name, during the surveillance that preceded the issuance and execution of the warrant.
Officer David Conrad, who inventoried the Lexus cars, discovered hidden compartments in the ...