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State of New Jersey v. Terrance L. Ingraham

July 29, 2011


On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, Indictment No. 06-04-00381.

Per curiam.


Argued: November 29, 2010

Before Judges C.L. Miniman and LeWinn.

Defendant Terrance Ingraham appeals from his convictions for seven counts of first-degree armed robbery, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1; one count of second-degree possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a; and five counts of third-degree unlawful possession of a handgun, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b. He also appeals the extended-term sentence of forty-five years imposed on one of the robbery counts with a requirement pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, that he serve eighty-five percent of that term.*fn1 We now affirm defendant's convictions and sentence.

Prior to trial, the judge granted defendant's motion to sever the trials relating to victims Marsellis Chandler and Lateff Holmes, who were robbed on January 15, 2006 (Counts One to Three and Seven to Nine); Linc Thompson, Al Joseph, and Damien Ware, who were robbed on January 16, 2006 (Counts Ten to Fourteen); and Damano Scarletta, who was robbed on January 19, 2006 (Counts Fifteen to Seventeen), from the trial relating to victim Shaheed Muhammed, who was robbed on January 15, 2006 (Counts Four to Six), and the matter proceeded to trial with respect to the robbery of Muhammed only.

Defendant moved on October 20, 2006, to suppress the evidence seized from his girlfriend's automobile. The facts relevant to the seizure were developed at a hearing the following April and began with the robbery of Scarletta on January 19, 2006, four days after Muhammed had been robbed. Linden Patrolman Joseph Kaulfers and his partner were on patrol at 1:30 a.m. on January 19 when they responded to a call about a possible suspect who had been involved in the Chandler robbery four days earlier. Chandler had the possible suspect, later identified as defendant, in sight at Uncle Charlie's, which was located at the intersection of East Linden Avenue and Park Avenue South in Linden, and pointed him out to the police. While at Uncle Char-lie's, Kaulfers was flagged down and told that the suspect had just robbed someone at gunpoint, presumably Scarletta, in Uncle Charlie's parking lot.

Kaulfers and his partner, William Mack, encountered defendant driving a blue Chevrolet TrailBlazer belonging to his girlfriend. They followed him onto Routes 1 and 9 and effectuated a motor vehicle stop. Kaulfers ordered defendant to get out of the TrailBlazer, patted him down, and arrested him. Defendant's girlfriend was also ordered out of the vehicle. As she stepped out of the vehicle, she reached back into it and placed her open purse on the front passenger seat. Both front doors of the TrailBlazer were now open. In plain view in her open purse were controlled dangerous substances. By this time, a third police officer had arrived at the scene. While another officer was watching defendant and his girlfriend, Kaulfers searched the driver's compartment for weapons and confiscated the purse without searching the passenger compartment. Once his supervisor arrived, the vehicle was secured and towed to the Linden garage. Kaulfers denied searching the vehicle.

Mack testified that he and Kaulfers were flagged down by an individual who saw the robbery at Uncle Charlie's and pointed out defendant, who was running to his vehicle. They observed defendant get into the vehicle and pull away. As they were following him, another call came in that a robbery had just occurred at Uncle Charlie's. He and Kaulfers performed a high-risk motor vehicle stop because a gun had reportedly been used in the robbery. Defendant and his girlfriend were handcuffed and placed on the side of the road while Kaulfers searched the driver's compartment. They could see the entire interior of the car. Nothing was removed from the car that night other than the girlfriend's purse.

Defendant testified, claiming that there were eight or nine officers at the scene of his arrest, that he had been placed in the patrol car immediately behind his vehicle after his arrest, and that he observed the police search his entire vehicle. All four doors of the vehicle, which had tinted windows, and its rear lift gate were open. One officer took a black fur coat out of the back seat of defendant's vehicle and placed it on the hood of the patrol car. When Chandler arrived at the scene with another person and parked his vehicle in front of the TrailBlazer, the officer held up the coat, Chandler looked at it, and shook his head, "no." Defendant testified that his vehicle contained a lot of items----jumper cables, a case of CDs, some tickets, two or three tubs of clothes, and some boots. He could see the officers looking through these items, although nothing but the black coat was removed from his vehicle.

Chandler testified that he was driving past Uncle Charlie's on January 19 when he saw a robbery occur. He pulled into the parking lot, because the victim of this robbery was a friend of his, and saw the police begin to chase defendant. Later, the police brought Chandler to Routes 1 and 9 to see if he could identify any of his property in the vehicle that they had pulled over to the side of the road. By this time, there were several patrol cars at the scene. All of the TrailBlazer's doors were open, and the lift gate was as well. The police asked him to look into the back of the vehicle to see if he could identify anything as his. Nothing had been removed from the vehicle. He saw a coat but could not identify anything as his property. Later that day, he identified defendant at the police station.

Detective David Dehler testified that the police obtained a search warrant for the TrailBlazer on January 23, 2006. He searched the vehicle the following day and seized fifteen items from the vehicle. As he seized each item, he marked it on an evidence inventory form and tagged it. He signed and dated the handwritten tags with the collection date of January 24.*fn2 None of the items had been previously seized. Most, but not all, of the items were photographed. The evidence was then brought back to police headquarters and eventually delivered to the police evidence clerk who entered it into the "Best Evidence Collection System."

The evidence clerk, Officer Gerald J. Sawczyn, also testified. He was shown a Department Case Report, which he testified was generated by his computer. The first page related to the Muhammed robbery and indicated that Dehler was the case officer. Case item number one was a photo lineup collected on January 19.

The next five pages all indicated that Kaulfers was the case officer for the robbery of Scarletta at Uncle Charlie's on January 19. Fifteen items were listed as having been seized on January 19 from various locations in the TrailBlazer. The last two pages of the report indicated that the case officer was William Mack and ...

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