On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Burlington County, Indictment No. 07-07-1093.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted: December 1, 2010 - Decided: Before Judges Sapp-Peterson and Fasciale.
Defendant appeals from a June 20, 2008 judgment of conviction (JOC) of second-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1) (Count Two); third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d (Count Four); and fourth- degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d (Count Five). The judge sentenced defendant to an extended term as a persistent offender and imposed an aggregate prison term of fifteen-years subject to an eighty-five percent period of parole ineligibility pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. We affirm.
The victim and defendant met through a singles ad in a local newspaper and dated for approximately eight weeks. On January 25, 2007, they agreed to spend the night in a motel room. Defendant expressed a desire to marry her and have children together, she resisted, and defendant became "real quiet and distant." The victim wanted to leave, changed her mind, and laid down on the bed fully clothed. Defendant left the room to buy a sandwich, returned, and stabbed a knife into her back. She pulled the knife out of her back and noticed that defendant was holding two hands-full of knives. Defendant stated that he wanted to kill her, attempted to stab her in the chest, and injured her left hand, right thumb, and wrist. She called 911, the police arrived, and defendant was arrested.
An emergency medical technician transported the victim to the hospital. A doctor examined her, observed that she sustained injuries to her right arm, left thumb, back, and chest, and sutured her arm and thumb. She was hospitalized overnight.
A detective arrived at the scene, entered the motel room, and observed a black plastic bag in a toilet bowl containing several knives, including one that was bent. The detective photographed the blood stains on the bed, nightstand, and phone, the injuries to the victim, and the knives.
Defendant testified at trial that he called a number in the victim's ad and listened to a message that stated "[h]i, this is Stacey. I'm looking for a drug and disease-free man that is generous and wants to meet for discreet times." He explained that prior to January 25, they engaged in rough sex involving handcuffs, knives, whips, and paddles. He alleged that the victim wanted to act out rape fantasies and other scenarios. He stated that the victim requested that they meet on January 25, and that he bring "all the stuff [they] needed." Defendant maintained that the victim's injury to her back resulted from consensual sex that night, and denied that he threatened to harm her.
On May 2, 2008, the jury found defendant guilty of second-degree aggravated assault (Count Two), third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose (Count Four), and fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon (Count Five). On June 20, 2008, the judge sentenced defendant to an extended term as a persistent offender and imposed a fifteen-year prison term on Count Two, subject to an eighty-five percent period of parole ineligibility pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2., concurrent to three-year terms on Counts Four and Five. The judge ordered restitution in the amount of $18,435.25, and later reduced the amount to $15,744.
On appeal, defendant raises the following points:
THE JURY VERDICT WAS AGAINST THE WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE R. 3:20
THE TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION BY IMPOSING AN EXTENDED TERM. ACCORDINGLY THIS PART OF THE DEFENDANT'S SENTENCE ...