On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Indictment No. 08-12-2206.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted January 17, 2012
Before Judges Ashrafi and Newman.
This is an appeal focusing on the guilty plea entered on a terroristic threat charge in which defendant Adam P. Cornell received a probationary sentence.
The facts surrounding this matter are largely contained in the presentence report. On August 16, 2008, defendant was a passenger in an automobile that he owned which was parked in a fire zone at the Garden State Plaza in Paramus. The car was being driven by co-defendant, Christina Pejovski. A Paramus police officer observed the vehicle at approximately 10:03 P.M. The officer approached the vehicle and asked for the driver's credentials, observing at the same time articles of clothing and sneakers in the back seat of the automobile. The officer requested information from headquarters regarding the registration provided and what he had observed. The officer was informed that a vehicle was wanted in connection with a possible shoplifting incident from Famous Footwear earlier that day.
Paramus Police Officers Betancourt and Parrello arrived on the scene. The investigation confirmed that Pejovski and the vehicle matched the description of the suspect alleged to have stolen footwear from Famous Footwear and the vehicle in which the suspect left the scene. Pejovski ultimately admitted to stealing the items and was arrested. A search of her person and purse found a stolen pair of earrings and an open prescription bottle containing Diazepam. A loss prevention employee from Nordstrom who came to the scene identified the earrings as stolen items.
Defendant was asked to exit the vehicle. He admitted he was the owner of the vehicle but was not driving due to a suspension of his driver's license. The loss prevention officer from Nordstrom's indicated that defendant had attempted to conceal two watches while he was in the store earlier that day. Defendant became belligerent. When Officer Betancourt tried to calm him down, defendant, according to the officer, stated "that he would shoot and kill him if he had his M-16."
Defendant was indicted on one count of terroristic threats, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3a. A plea agreement was entered into, and the trial court subsequently asked defendant to establish the factual basis for his plea. The initial factual basis provided by defendant on July 14, 2009 contained the following relevant colloquy:
Q: Mr. Cornell, were you in Paramus on August 16, 2008?
Q: And were you in your vehicle, but in the passenger seat?
Q: And were you stopped and being questioned by police officers regarding a theft from Nordstrom's?
A: Yes. Well -Q: Okay. And was there an exchange of words between you and the police officer?
Q: And during speaking with the police officer did you say to that officer, 'I shot an M-16 in the ...