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State of New Jersey v. Ivan W. Cornelius

October 11, 2011

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
IVAN W. CORNELIUS, A/K/A IVIN W. CORNELIOUS, A/K/A IVAN W. CORNELIOUS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Salem County, Indictment Nos. 09-06-0365 and 09-06-0366.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted September 12, 2011

Before Judges Sabatino and Fasciale.

Following a consolidated jury trial on two indictments, defendant Ivan Cornelius was found guilty in Indictment No. 09-06-365 of a second-degree "certain persons" weapons offense, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7; and guilty in Indictment No. 09-06-0366 of second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b, and the disorderly persons offense of harassment, N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4. The trial court sentenced defendant to a custodial term of eight years with a five-year parole disqualifier in Indictment No. 09-06-0365. The court further imposed a concurrent extended term of fifteen years on the weapons conviction in Indictment No. 09-06-0366, and a concurrent nine months on the harassment offense.

Defendant now appeals, raising various substantive arguments with respect to his three convictions. He also argues that the sentences imposed by the trial court were manifestly excessive. For the reasons that follow, we affirm defendant's convictions and the sentences that he received.

I.

The State's proofs at trial presented the following chronology of relevant events.

On the day of the charged offenses, April 17, 2009, defendant was angry because he was unable to gain access to a garden apartment in Penns Grove that he had shared with his former girlfriend. He wanted her to let him into the apartment so that he could retrieve his belongings, but she apparently had not done so.

Between approximately 9:30 and 10:00 that evening, defendant knocked on the front door of his ex-girlfriend's sister's apartment. She resided in another unit in the same apartment complex as defendant's ex-girlfriend. Her mother, who was visiting, opened the door of the residence. Defendant confronted the mother, and demanded that she tell his ex-girlfriend to meet him at the other apartment immediately. He then walked away, apparently still in an agitated state.

About thirty minutes later, defendant returned to the sister's apartment. This time, the sister's husband answered the door. Defendant again demanded that his ex-girlfriend be contacted. After it became apparent that his demands would not be obeyed, defendant again departed.

Having been thwarted twice, defendant returned to the sister's apartment around midnight, brandishing what some witnesses described as a silver gun. Defendant encountered the sister, held the gun to the sister's head, and threatened to kill her and her children. He then left the apartment and walked around the corner, where he fired four gun shots into the air. Although the shots were heard by several witnesses, the gun and bullets were not recovered.

The police were notified after the shots were fired. They located defendant a few hours later inside the residence of his friend, Dereka Lewis, who also lived in the same apartment complex.

Defendant did not testify at trial, but his counsel elicited brief testimony from Lewis and his former girlfriend.

The jury found defendant guilty of the three offenses we have previously identified, the most serious of which was the second-degree possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. At the ensuing sentencing, the State moved for an extended term, in light of defendant's extensive prior record, which the court granted.

The present appeal followed.

II.

In his briefs on appeal, defendant raises the ...


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