On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Indictment No. 06-08-1771.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Parrillo and Ashrafi.
Defendant Jason Wilson appeals from his conviction by a jury on charges of armed robbery, aggravated assault, conspiracy, and a weapons offense. We affirm the jury's verdict, but we remand for correction of the sentence.
The evidence at trial established the following facts. In May 2006, the victim of the robbery was involved in casual sexual relationships and use of illegal drugs with Sarah Marciano and Mary Ann Spry-Summa, who went by the name Shelly. On the night of May 4, 2006, the victim called Shelly and asked her to meet him "to party." Unbeknownst to the victim, Shelly and Sarah wanted to steal drugs from him, and they had enlisted defendant's participation for that purpose.
Shelly picked up the victim in her car near his home. The victim gave her a pipe filled with crack cocaine to smoke. As they drove a short distance around the corner from his home, the victim saw Sarah outside in the company of an African-American male, whom the victim later described as bald, muscular, and about five feet seven inches in height. Shelly stopped to pick up Sarah and her companion. Sarah approached the car and told the victim to get in the back seat so that they could "hang out" together. Displeased with Sarah at the time and wary of the stranger, the victim declined and started to walk back to his house.
Sarah pushed the victim, and her companion punched him in the mouth, knocking the victim to the ground and causing the loss of his front teeth. The victim felt someone going through his pockets, where he had only five dollars, two condoms, and a pack of cigarettes. Sarah's companion then stabbed the victim twice in the stomach, and he passed out.
After he regained consciousness, the victim made his way back to his house and called Shelly, initially believing that he was not badly injured. Shelly came back to his house, and they left to buy drugs. Later in the night, however, the victim had trouble breathing. He called 911 and was taken by ambulance to a hospital. The medical examination revealed two lacerations to his liver, and emergency surgery was performed to stop the internal bleeding.
In their investigation, the police found blood on the street in the area where the robbery and assault had occurred and on the front porch of the victim's house. Several days later, the police interviewed Shelly and Sarah and obtained admissions from them and information about defendant, who fit the physical description given by the victim. The police arrested defendant and found on his person an address book that contained telephone numbers for Shelly and Sarah.
Defendant was indicted, along with Shelly and Sarah, on charges of second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2; first-degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1; third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d; and second-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1). The two women entered into plea agreements with the State by which they agreed to testify at defendant's trial. Sarah pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery and Shelly to second-degree conspiracy. After they testified at defendant's trial, the women received sentences of imprisonment in the third-degree range.
In their testimony at the trial, the women inculpated themselves and defendant in the crimes as described. Both women were also questioned about their pleas of guilty and their plea agreements with the State. Neither the State nor defendant requested a limiting instruction on the jury's proper use of the women's guilty pleas, as required by State v. Stefanelli, 78 N.J. 418, 435 (1979), and the court did not give such an instruction. Defendant did not testify at trial and did not present any witnesses. The jury convicted defendant on all four charges.
At sentencing, the court granted the State's motion for a mandatory extended term under N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.1b and sentenced defendant on the first-degree charge of armed robbery to twenty-one years in prison, with eighty-five percent of the term to be served before eligibility for parole and five years of parole supervision, pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. The court ...