On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, Indictment No. 08-01-0036.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 19, 2010
Before Judges Graves and Messano.
Defendant Luigi Deiana appeals from the judgment of conviction and sentence imposed following a jury trial at which he was convicted of second-degree possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a); fourth-degree forgery, N.J.S.A. 2C:21-1(a)(2); and the disorderly persons offense of harassment, N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4, a lesser-included offense of terroristic threats, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3(b). At the end of the State's case, the judge granted defendant's motion for acquittal on the charge of third-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b). Additionally, the jury acquitted defendant of fourth-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(4) ("[k]nowingly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life point[ing] a firearm"). On the weapons offense, the judge sentenced defendant to: a five-year period of incarceration, with a three-year period of parole ineligibility pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(c); a concurrent term of nine months imprisonment on the forgery conviction; and appropriate financial penalties on those convictions and the harassment conviction.
Defendant raises the following points on appeal:
DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS FOR JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL NOTWITHSTANDING THE VERDICT AND/OR MOTION FOR A NEW TRIAL SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED POINT II
ERRORS CONCERNING OTHER CRIMES EVIDENCE REQUIRE REVERSAL After consideration of these arguments in light of the record and applicable legal standards, we affirm.
Trial testimony revealed that defendant resided in the home of Vivian Sharp, an elderly woman who had recently lost her husband of sixty-four years. Defendant and Sharp used to work in the same business. When the business closed, Sharp believed defendant left his apartment in Hillside and returned to Italy. Sharp's husband subsequently contracted Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases and defendant, who had returned to the United States, moved into the basement of the Sharp home. For the next two to three years, defendant assisted the couple, taking Mr. Sharp to his doctor's appointments and doing odd-jobs around the house.
At approximately 10:45 p.m. on September 11, 2007, Sharp rang the doorbell of her next-door neighbor, Joan Alexiades. Sharp was holding a note (the note) in her hand, and said, "[H]e's trying to kill me." Alexiades's husband called 911 and the police responded quickly. Within minutes thereafter, defendant walked from the Sharp home and spoke to police officers on the scene.
Matthew Disano, a Roselle Park police officer, responded to the call. When he arrived, he saw Sharp seated in a chair in the Alexiades's home, "visibly scared." He examined the note which read: "I have [a] gun. Take you[r] clothes off and don't turn around or I will kill you." The note was "composed of letters and words that were cut out of . . . magazines and newspaper articles."
When defendant approached the Alexiades home, Sharp pointed toward him and "said that's him." Defendant told Disano that he "saw someone running through the yards with a gun." Disano administered defendant his Miranda*fn1 rights and asked him to describe this person. Defendant told Disano "it may be a girl," and "she may be in the house." After canvassing the area with negative results, Disano and the other officers entered Sharp's home.
After checking for intruders, they proceeded to the basement. Disano saw a silver handgun on a shelf that he later determined was a pellet gun. Nearby were "pornographic pictures of . . . Mrs. Sharp, with her head posted on the person in the picture's body." Disano seized these items, as well as a small piece of wood that was propped up against the "receiver end" of a telephone "so that there couldn't be a dial tone." The officer also seized another pornographic photograph with "lettering on it . . . [that] said[,] [']I want to do this to you.['"]
Defendant was arrested and processed at police headquarters. Disano found five checks drawn on Sharp's bank account in his wallet. Two of the checks, in the amount of $75,000 and $25,000, were made payable to defendant and "endorsed" by Sharp's husband. The words "thousand" were printed as "t-h-o-u-s-a-n-t." The words "gift to Luigi" were written in the memo portion of the larger check. The other three checks were blank.
Sharp testified that defendant "was a big help" when her husband became ill. After his death, however, defendant asked Sharp for her power of attorney in his favor, but she refused. Sharp asked defendant to leave the house "but nothing happened." Sharp believed that defendant was keeping visitors from seeing her and was trying to convince her that the house was haunted. Sharp also testified that the handwriting on the ...