On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County, Indictment No. 07-08-1934.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted February 15, 2011
Before Judges Parrillo and Skillman.
A jury found defendant guilty of second-degree robbery, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1(a)(1). The trial court granted the State's motion to sentence defendant as a persistent offender under N.J.S.A. 2C:44-3(a), and imposed an extended term of eighteen years imprisonment, subject to the 85% period of parole ineligibility mandated by the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2.
The robbery occurred in the afternoon of June 7, 2007 in the Hilton Casino in Atlantic City. The victim of the robbery was a casino cashier, Muhammed Ali, who was responsible for paying out jackpots, providing cash redemptions for vouchers and coupons, and handling various other transactions involving cash payoffs. Ali conducted these transactions through a window at the front of the booth in which he worked. He gained entry to the booth through a wooden door.
In response to a knock, Ali opened the door and saw defendant, who asked, "bathroom?" Ali told defendant the booth was not the bathroom. Defendant then pulled the door open, entered the booth, punched Ali, and said, "give me the money."
Ali pushed an alarm button. Seeing Ali do this, defendant said, "I'm getting out of here," ran out of the booth, and left the area. Defendant, who was identified from a surveillance camera videotape of the incident wearing distinctive clothing,
specifically a Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers jersey with the number six on it, was apprehended in another casino a few hours later.
In addition to the testimony of Ali, the State Police detective who investigated the robbery, and the casino employees who operated the casino surveillance cameras, the State introduced a composite videotape from the surveillance cameras that showed defendant's movements before, during and after the robbery.
Defendant took the stand in his own defense and admitted he entered the booth where Ali worked. However, defendant claimed that he entered the booth by mistake, thinking that it was a bathroom, and denied punching Ali or demanding that Ali give him money. Defendant testified that his only physical interaction with Ali occurred when Ali pushed him out of the booth.
Based on this evidence, the jury found defendant guilty of robbery.
On appeal, defendant presents the ...