On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Somerset County, Indictment No. 05-12-00960.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 29, 2010
Before Judges Fuentes and Ashrafi.
Defendant Antonio McGeary was tried before a jury and convicted of second degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1a(1), and third degree criminal restraint, N.J.S.A. 2C:13-2a. The court sentenced defendant to a term of ten years on the robbery, with an eighty-five percent period of parole ineligibility and three years of parole supervision pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. We affirm.
Although defendant chose not to testify at trial, the evidence presented by the State nevertheless came primarily from defendant's own words contained in a statement defendant gave to Detective Michael Schutta of the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office. This statement was admitted by the trial court after rejecting defense counsel's argument based on Miranda.*fn1 In response to Schutta's questions, defendant described in detail his role and involvement in the event that led to his conviction.
In the early morning hours of October 16, 2005, Precious Taylor, Terrance Moore, and defendant agreed to go to a party at the residence of Marcos Lopez on Thompson Street in Raritan for the purpose of robbing those in attendance of their money and marijuana. Moore brought with him two sets of handcuffs and a gun that, although appearing to be a real weapon, shot only blanks.
Under the plan devised by the three men, Taylor was to be the first to enter Lopez's apartment under the guise of being just another person at the party. Defendant was to soon follow using the same ruse. As the only one of the three who was armed, Moore was going to act as the robber. The plan was executed accordingly.
Moore entered the Lopez party brandishing the "handgun" and ordered the men in attendance to take off their pants and surrender their cellular telephones. Moore then placed the pants and cell phones into a bag. The women were herded into the bathroom. At one point, Moore struck Robert Fileggi and Brandon Cruz-Andrews in the head with his handgun, causing blood to run down the faces of the two men. Defendant "panicked" when he saw Moore strike the two men and left the scene immediately thereafter.
At 2:49 a.m., Raritan Police Officer Nancy Phibbs was directed to respond to a 911 call reporting individuals with guns near Michael's Inn on Thompson Street. Phibbs and fellow Raritan Police Officer Raymond Nolte were en route to the area when they were informed of another 911 call reporting the violence occurring at the party and stating that the actors were still at the Lopez residence with guns. Upon arriving at the residence, Phibbs saw several women leaving the apartment crying and two men dressed only in their underwear from the waist down. Two of the men (later identified as Fileggi and co-defendant Taylor) were handcuffed to each other. According to Phibbs, Fileggi and Cruz-Andrews were both bleeding from apparent head injuries.
Phibbs and Nolte apprehended Moore as he walked away from the residence on Thompson Street. In a search incident to arrest, Nolte found a knife around Moore's neck, a throwing star in a pouch on his belt, and an empty shoulder holster under his jacket. Nolte also recovered a pillowcase found next to the front tire of a vehicle parked near where Moore was arrested. Defendant was apprehended approximately one hour after Moore's arrest.
Defendant now appeals, raising the following arguments:
FAILURE OF THE COURT TO PROPERLY CHARGE RENUNCIATION TO THE JURY DENIED THE ...