On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County, Indictment No. 09-06-1390.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Reisner and LeWinn.
Defendant Weldon D. Mathews appeals from his conviction for second-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) with intent to distribute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1), and from the sentence imposed on that conviction: nine and one-half years in prison with fifty-seven months of parole ineligibility.
On this appeal, defendant challenges the search that led to the discovery of the drugs; contends that he should have been permitted to withdraw his subsequent guilty plea; and argues that his sentence is excessive. He presents the following points of appeal:
POINT I: THE DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM UNREASONABLE SEARCH[ES] AND SEIZURES AS GUARANTEED BY THE FOURTH AMENDMENT OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ART. I, ¶ 7 OF THE NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTION WAS VIOLATED AS A RESULT OF A SEARCH AND SEIZURE BASED ON AN INVALID CONSENT.
POINT II: THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO WITHDRAW HIS GUILTY PLEA SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED. POINT III: THE SENTENCE IS EXCESSIVE.
A. The Trial Court Improperly Balanced The Aggravating And Mitigating Circumstances.
B. The Court Made Findings Of Fact To Enhance The Sentence.
Finding no merit in these arguments, we affirm.
I. At the October 30, 2009 hearing on the motion to suppress, the State presented testimony from State Trooper David L. Meyrick, III. According to Meyrick, on February 27, 2009, he received information from a confidential informant that defendant, Jennifer Schillace, and a third individual were engaging in drug sales and manufacturing at a specific address in Newtonville. Meyrick checked several police databases and discovered that the house at that address was occupied by Jennifer Schillace and her sister Denise.
That afternoon, Meyrick and "three other detectives" arrived at the address named by the informant and found defendant and two other persons sitting in a vehicle outside the house. After defendant identified himself, Meyrick saw Jennifer and Denise Schillace coming out of the house, accompanied by Denise's minor daughter. Meyrick and Detective McGovern explained to the Schillace sisters that they had received information that "there was traffic, high vehicular as well as pedestrian contacts, people that were coming and leaving the residence at different times of the night, and the time frame was usually short periods of time."
After Meyrick confirmed with the sisters that they owned the house, Jennifer invited the detectives "to come in the house to talk" with her. Once inside the house, Meyrick and Detective McGovern asked the sisters for consent to search the premises, and presented them with the standard Consent to Search form. At that point, Jennifer asked the detectives to go back outside while she discussed their request privately with Denise. Meyrick and McGovern left the house, and a few minutes later, Jennifer came ...