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State of New Jersey v. Gary D. Stevenson

September 27, 2011


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Burlington County, Indictment No. 08-10-1154.

Per curiam.


Submitted September 13, 2011

Before Judges Yannotti and Espinosa.

Defendant Gary D. Stevenson was tried before a jury and found guilty of burglary, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2(a)(1). Defendant appeals from the judgment of conviction dated January 29, 2010. We affirm defendant's conviction and, with the exception of the ordered restitution, the sentence imposed.


In January 2008, Charmaine Roth (Roth) was residing in a single-family residence in the Township of Westampton, New Jersey. She went away on vacation but returned to her home at 1:30 a.m. on January 12, 2008. She discovered that the double-keyed, dead bolt lock had been removed and was lying on the ground beside the front door. She also noticed that someone tried to enter through the rear door and a window beside that door had been broken.

Roth went inside and saw that several items had been taken, specifically a silver fox stole, a wedding ring, an answering machine and a nursing bag. Roth valued these items at about $2,000. Roth reported the matter to the police and, after the police arrived, they removed a curtain from the window because there was blood on it. Roth testified that she did not give anyone permission to enter the house.

Patrolman Thomas Polite (Polite) of the Westhampton Police Department (WPD) testified that he was called to Roth's home at about 2:00 a.m. on January 12, 2008. Polite spoke with Roth. He observed pieces of the double-keyed, dead bolt lock on the ground outside the front door of the residence.

Polite testified that it appeared as if the intruder tried to gain entry through the back door but was unsuccessful. The intruder had broken a window at the left of the rear door to gain entrance into the house. Polite observed curtains in the window and broken glass in front of and near the window. Polite secured the scene.

Detective Glenn A. Parent (Parent) of the WPD arrived at around 2:30 a.m. and met with Roth and Polite. He checked the exterior of the property. He lifted several fingerprints inside the house. They were sent to the State Police Laboratory but, according to Parent, they were found to be "non-sufficient" for the purpose of analysis.

Parent testified that he observed blood on the curtains on the broken window in the rear of the house. Parent secured the curtains and removed them to the police station, where they were held for a "day or so" and then sent to the State Police lab so that the blood could be "checked" for deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Parent also retrieved a hair that was found in the sink. The hair was also sent to the State Police's DNA Laboratory but Parent said he was told that it could not be tested.

Forensic Scientist Laura Tramontin (Tramontin) of the State Police DNA lab testified that she observed what appeared to be smears of blood on a curtain provided by the WPD. Tramontin extracted two samples from the stains, tested them and determined that they were positive for blood.

The parties stipulated that Harry W. Corey, a DNA database administrator, searched the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database and determined that there was a match between the DNA found in the samples extracted from Roth's curtain and defendant's DNA profile. The parties also stipulated that the WPD had been informed of the DNA database match for purposes of its investigation.

On January 6, 2009, Detective Linda M. Chieffalo (Chieffalo) of the WPD applied to the Superior Court for a search warrant in order to obtain a swab of defendant's saliva sufficient for a comparison with specimens recovered from the curtain in Roth's home. The court granted the application and Chieffalo obtained a buccal swab, which was forwarded to the State Police DNA lab for analysis.

Forsensic Scientist Edward LaRue (LaRue), assistant laboratory director of the State Police's DNA lab, testified that, within a reasonable degree of medical certainty, defendant was the source of the stain found in Roth's curtain due to the rarity of his DNA profile. LaRue explained that in the population of the United States, a match could occur in one in every 451 quintillion African Americans, one in every 32.1 sextillion Caucasians, and one in every 1.8 septillion Hispanics. Roth testified that she did not know defendant.

Defendant did not testify at trial. However, his parents Carmen and Horace Stevenson testified on his behalf. The Stevensons said that, at the time of the burglary, defendant had been residing with them from time to time. Carmen Stevenson stated there were periods of time when defendant was not at their home. She indicated that sometimes defendant would stay with friends. Horace Stevenson stated that in January and February 2008, defendant ...

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