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State of New Jersey v. Uriah Hannah

February 28, 2011


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County, Indictment No. 07-05-1283.

Per curiam.



Submitted February 9, 2011 - Decided Before Judges Fisher, Sapp-Peterson and Simonelli.

In this appeal, we consider and reject, among other things, defendant's contention regarding the admission of expert testimony, which asserted that defendant's conduct was intended to promote prostitution, and, therefore, affirm.

The jury heard testimony during a six-day trial about what took place between defendant and fourteen-year old Sarah,*fn1 as well as others, on February 5, 2007. That day, Sarah and her fifteen-year old friend Clare, went to the home of another friend, Robert, to obtain marijuana. Because Robert and his brother had none, Robert, Sarah and Clare began walking about Egg Harbor City. As they wandered about, a silver car, containing two men and one woman, pulled alongside; neither Robert, Sarah, nor Clare knew the adults in the vehicle. The vehicle's driver, later identified as defendant, asked if they were looking for marijuana; they responded affirmatively and were invited into the vehicle.

Defendant identified himself as "Polo," the other man introduced himself as "Sean," and the woman referred to herself as "J.O."*fn2 Defendant drove to a location where he purchased marijuana and to a liquor store for alcohol. Defendant then invited the juveniles to a hotel party.

Early that evening, the group arrived at the Roadway Inn on Route 30 in Galloway Township. J.O. paid for and rented room 111. Once inside, the group smoked marijuana. Sarah and Clare also drank alcohol and snorted heroin, which defendant provided. Cobb testified that he and defendant agreed the girls would be good recruits for prostitution and that because J.O. was a prostitute, she should discuss the prospect with Sarah and Clare. Shortly thereafter, defendant and Clare left in order to purchase more marijuana; during the car ride, defendant told Clare she was "a pretty girl" and asked if she was interested in becoming a prostitute; she declined and went back to the motel with defendant.

Once defendant and Clare returned to room 111, Sarah went into the bathroom with Cobb and engaged in sexual intercourse with him. Not long after they exited, Sarah went back into the bathroom with defendant. They too had sexual intercourse, during which defendant told Sarah she was "good," "should get paid for it," and "could make a lot of money." He also asked her to call him "Daddy."

Clare decided to leave. Defendant told Clare that if she "told anyone what happened he was going to hurt [her] and come after [her] and [her] family." A man wearing a red hat, whom she had never met before, took her to a friend's house.*fn3 While there, Clare called to see how Sarah was; Sarah was "crying, hysterically" and said she had been "raped." Clare then called Sarah's mother and the police.

Meanwhile, defendant took Sarah to his vehicle. Inside the vehicle, defendant asked Sarah if she would perform oral sex on the man in the red hat for $300; defendant said he would keep $200, and she could have $100. At this point, Sarah's mother arrived and Sarah jumped out of defendant's vehicle, got in her mother's vehicle, and told her "to go." Once home, Sarah told her mother about the drug use and that "something of a sexual nature had occurred."

Sarah was later interviewed, and after she told a detective about the events in the motel room and made an identification, defendant was arrested. Cobb and O'Farrell were arrested with regard to other unrelated matters.

Defendant was charged with: second-degree sexual assault of a child, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(c)(4); third-degree endangering the welfare of a child, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a); fourth degree child abuse, N.J.S.A. 9:6-3; and second-degree promoting prostitution of a child under the age of eighteen, N.J.S.A. 2C:34-1(b). At the trial's conclusion, the jury found defendant guilty only of third-degree endangering the welfare of a child. The judge granted the State's motion to sentence defendant to an extended term as a persistent offender, in light of his considerable criminal record, and sentenced him to an eight-year prison term subject to a four-year period of parole ineligibility. In addition to ...

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