On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment No. 07-06-2174.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 19, 2010 - Decided Before Judges Payne and Koblitz.
Defendant, Randy Jackson, appeals from a conviction by a jury for first-degree murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1) and (2), third-degree unlawful possession of a handgun, N.J.S.A. 2C:39- 5b, and second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a.
On appeal, defendant raises the following arguments through counsel:
THE COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING THE DEFENDANT'S TAPED STATEMENT BECAUSE IT WAS THE PRODUCT OF A MIRANDA VIOLATION.
AN ACCUSATORY STATEMENT BY AN OUT-OF-COURT DECLARANT WAS ADMITTED AS AN EXCITED UTTERANCE THUS DENYING THE DEFENDANT THE RIGHT OF CONFRONTATION.
A. The Accusation By Lynch Was Not An Excited Utterance.
B. The Defendant's Right Of Confrontation Was Violated By Admission of Lynch's Statement.
THE COURT FAILED TO SUPERVISE THE USE OF THE DEFENDANT'S AUDIOTAPED STATEMENT DURING THE PROSECUTOR'S SUMMATION RESULTING IN A DENIAL OF THE RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL. (Not Raised Below.)
THE JURY SHOULD HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED ON THE NEED TO FIND CORROBORATION OF THE DEFENDANT'S CONFESSION. (Not Raised Below.)
ADMISSION OF TESTIMONY ON THE OBTAINING OF THE ARREST WARRANT FOR DEFENDANT ON THE CHARGE OF MURDER WAS HIGHLY PREJUDICIAL, AND WAS COMPOUNDED BY THE COURT'S FAILURE TO ISSUE A LIMITING INSTRUCTION. (Not Raised Below.)
In a pro se supplemental brief, defendant raises the following additional issues:
THE INVESTIGATOR VIOLATED DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO COUNSEL UNDER ARTICLE 1 PAR. 10 OF THE NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTION.
STATE FAILED TO PROVE BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT THAT THE DEFENDANT ALLEGEDLY COMMITTED A CRIME OF MURDER PURPOSELY AND KNOWINGLY. POINT (3)
THE STATE FAILED TO SUBMIT TO THE DEFENSE A FULL AND COMPLETE DISCOVERY.
PROSECUTION MISCONDUCT ON SUMMATIONS, (T.D.C.) THREAT, DURESS, COERCION AND INDUCEMENT ON STATE WITNESS TO TESTIFY AGAINST THE DEFENDANT.
TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING DEFENDANT'S WADE HEARING.
GRAND JURY MISCONDUCT PERMITTED BY THE STATE VIOLATED THE DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS.
TRIAL COURT ERRED TO INSTRUCT JURY TO SPECIFY FINDING FOR BASIS OF CONVICTION.
The record contains evidence that, during the late evening of December 1, 2006, defendant, defendant's girlfriend Nyiaka James, defendant's sister Latiesha Lynch, Lynch's boyfriend Hassan Hutchins, James's friend Tianna Barclay, and defendant's step-brother Mario Davis were gathered at a club in Orange, New Jersey. When the club closed at 2:00 a.m. on December 2, 2006, the six individuals got into two cars. The first was driven by defendant, with James in the passenger seat and Lynch and her boyfriend Hutchins in the back seat. The second car was driven by Barclay, with Davis in the passenger seat. At the time of their departure from the club, Lynch and Hutchins were arguing, and the fight continued after they entered defendant's car. After the car had proceeded for a short distance, defendant, believing that Hutchins had assaulted Lynch, stopped and ordered Hutchins out of the vehicle. Defendant followed, and an argument ensued, during which defendant shot Hutchins, hitting him twice. Barclay witnessed at least one of the shots and confirmed that the shots were fired by defendant, not by Davis, who had exited the second car.
After the shooting stopped, Lynch went to assist Hutchins, who was lying on the ground. James left defendant's car and drove off with Barclay in the second vehicle. However, the women were quickly intercepted by the police who had responded almost immediately to the scene. Similarly, defendant sought to depart in the first car, but also was stopped by the police. According to Officer Richard Adrianzan, who was the first officer to respond to the scene, defendant appeared unexcited and unimpaired. Officer Fidel Hunter described defendant as "nonchalant."
Hutchins, who was still alive, was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:15 a.m. An autopsy revealed that he had been hit by two bullets, one in the thigh and the other in the back that traveled through his chest and larynx, lodging in decedent's neck.
Upon questioning at the scene, defendant asserted that Hutchins had been shot in a drive-by shooting. However, when he could not support his version of events with any details, the police became suspicious and started searching the scene for a weapon. While searching, Officer Hunter overheard Lynch scream at defendant, "she [sic] didn't have to do that, you could have just got back in the car, you didn't have to shoot." Soon thereafter, Officer Hunter located the weapon, a Charter Arms Undercover 39 Special revolver containing five empty shell casings, on the sidewalk not far from Hutchins's body. Subsequent forensic testing confirmed that the bullet found in Hutchins's neck had been shot from the revolver found at the scene.
Following the discovery of the gun, defendant was arrested for unlawful possession of a weapon and was transported to Orange Police Headquarters. The remaining individuals were also transported to Police Headquarters for questioning.
During the subsequent police investigation, both James and Barclay initially gave false statements, but later implicated defendant. Photo identifications were conducted, and both women identified defendant as the shooter.
At approximately 8:00 p.m., a warrant was issued for defendant's arrest on charges of murder. Shortly thereafter, he was taken to an interview room, where he was administered Miranda*fn1 warnings and was interviewed by a detective from the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, Christopher Smith, in the company of an Orange police detective, Willie Coley. After being confronted with the incriminating evidence obtained from the witnesses to the events, defendant confessed. He was then asked to provide a recorded statement and, after agreeing and again waiving his Miranda rights, defendant did so, stating in part:
Well, we . . . was all at the club, we was drinking and so forth. It was time to go home, dude started grabbing up my sister and he been like on her almost like all day since I met him, you know what I mean? And I'm trying to see what it is, you know, I mean that's wrong and everything. So I go over there, I just - I had talked to him about talking to my sister like that, you know what I'm saying? And he -
Then we leaves and everything, he jumped on her one more time, man you know what I'm saying? Getting out of the car, I forget how that happened, you know what I mean? How he - because he was in my vehicle and I don't remember, I don't know why we got out of the vehicle. I think - I think I said something like hey, get out my car. ...