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State of New Jersey v. Shaka S. Zulu

November 3, 2011

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
SHAKA S. ZULU, A/K/A JULIUS ROGERS, A/K/A JAMES H. ROGERS, A/K/A CAMERON ROGERS, A/K/A DARRYL THOMAS, A/K/A S. SANKOTA, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, Indictment No. 00-02-0172.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 4, 2011

Before Judges Yannotti and Espinosa.

Defendant Shaka Zulu appeals from an order entered by the Law Division on October 2, 2009, denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.

Defendant was charged with first-degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (count one); second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a) (count two); and third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b) (count three). He was tried before a jury.

At the trial, evidence was presented which established that on December 13, 1999, at around 11:00 p.m., Nyreek Lewis (Lewis) was walking to his home in Hillside, New Jersey, when a black Pontiac Trans-Am vehicle pulled up alongside him. The passenger got out of the car, pointed a gun at Lewis and ordered him to hand over his jacket, sweater and boots. Lewis complied. The passenger then ordered Lewis to turn over his money. Lewis handed the passenger a twenty-dollar bill and three one-dollar bills.

The driver got out of the Trans-Am and picked up Lewis's boots and coat. The driver then grabbed at Lewis's neck to see if he was wearing any jewelry. The passenger and driver got back into the car and drove off in the direction of Newark. A neighbor who witnessed the incident called the Hillside police.

Two police officers responded to Lewis's home and he reported what had happened. Lewis provided the officers with a description of the Trans-Am as well descriptions of the car's passenger and driver.

The officers returned to police headquarters. Two hours later, they received a dispatch indicating that police officers in Newark had pulled over a vehicle that fit the description of the car used in the robbery. The Newark police had the two occupants of the car in custody. They were being held in the back seat of a marked police vehicle.

At around 1:00 a.m., the Hillside police officers picked up Lewis at his home and drove him to Newark. As they approached the location where the suspects were being detained, Lewis spotted the Trans-Am and identified it as the vehicle used during the robbery.

After Lewis and the police officers arrived on the scene, defendant was taken out of the vehicle. Lewis immediately identified defendant as "the one that robbed me." The other suspect was taken out of the vehicle and defendant identified him as the driver of the car. Lewis's jacket was removed from the Trans-Am and Lewis identified it as his own.

Defendant was found in possession of one twenty-dollar bill, one five-dollar bill, and eleven one-dollar bills. A Hillside police officer informed defendant of his Miranda rights.*fn1 Defendant gave a statement to the police. He denied that he was involved in a robbery. He admitted, however, that he had been in possession of the Trans Am the entire day. The gun used in the robbery was never recovered.

The jury found defendant guilty of first-degree robbery, but not guilty of the other charges. The trial court granted the State's motion to sentence defendant to an extended term as a persistent offender pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:44-3(a), and imposed a fifty-year term ...


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