On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County, Indictment No. 08-03-0976.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted March 7, 2012 -
Before Judges Fuentes and J. N. Harris.
After his motion to suppress was denied, defendant Gregory Williams pled guilty to first-degree aggravated manslaughter, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4(a).*fn1 He was sentenced to a term of twenty-four years incarceration subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2(d)(2). Williams appeals the denial of his motion to suppress and the extent of his sentence. We affirm.
On the morning of November 9, 2004, Donald Stone, a HiNella police officer, responded to the Country Farm convenience store in nearby Somerdale to investigate a reported robbery and (a later-determined fatal) stabbing. Officer Stone was advised that the culprit ran out of the store and was being actively followed by a civilian driving a red pickup truck. The police officer drove off in search of the suspect and shortly encountered the driver of the red pickup truck a few streets away parked in a residential neighborhood on Sunset Drive. The driver told Officer Stone that he observed the suspect, who just seconds before, ran into the backyard of a home on Sunset Drive.
Officer Stone and another police officer began "looking around behind the houses in that block" when "another call came over the radio where a person at 719 Sunset was reporting [that his] house was being broken into." The police officers immediately responded and raced through several backyards to reach 719 Sunset Drive. Officer Stone observed a broken pane of glass by the back door. He was also advised that the caller had locked himself in the bedroom, but the intruder was still in the house.
Several police officers immediately entered the dwelling and saw two men inside. With their guns drawn, the police ordered both individuals "to lay down on the ground [and] spread their hands out." Officer Stone testified to what happened next:
We wanted to get handcuffs on them as we had no idea who belonged there or what was happening.
At that point the second gentleman we were cuffing stopped us -- he didn't stop us but he said while we were cuffing him to leave the other guy alone. He was the person we were looking for.
[He said,] [t]hat's my brother. Leave him alone. He didn't do anything. He still had a telephone next to him so we knew -- we had an idea he might be the person that had called and the telephone was still connected to [police] communications. He had never hung up the phone.
So we cuffed the person that we were talking to and we got him to stand up. He was still laying face down on the rug when we cuffed him. When he stood up we noticed that he had . . . blood spots all over the front of his shirt and pants.
In due course, the police identified the "second gentleman" as Williams, who was arrested and charged with several offenses. After telling the police that he had discarded a knife nearby, a search ensued, which resulted in the blood-stained weapon's discovery shortly thereafter. Further investigation revealed that the house Williams had broken into was owned by his mother, but Williams did not reside there. The ...