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State of New Jersey v. Isaiah Hunter

May 24, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
ISAIAH HUNTER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, Indictment Nos. 09-01-0014 and 09-01-0015.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted December 7, 2011

Before Judges Lihotz and St. John.

After a jury trial, defendant Isaiah Hunter was convicted of second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b, fourth-degree resisting arrest, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2a, and fourth-degree obstructing the administration of law, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1. After the jury verdict, defendant pled guilty to second-degree certain persons not to have weapons, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7b, charged in a separate indictment. At sentencing, the trial judge granted the State's motion for imposition of a mandatory extended term of imprisonment, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(c) (Graves Act), and sentenced defendant to fifteen years in state prison, with seven and one-half years of parole ineligibility for the unlawful possession of a weapon count, plus concurrent twelve month terms of parole ineligibility for each of the resisting arrest and obstruction counts. For the certain persons not to have weapons count, the judge sentenced defendant to five years imprisonment with five years of parole ineligibility to run concurrently with the fifteen year term imposed on the unlawful possession of a weapon count. Appropriate fines and penalties were also imposed.

Defendant raises the following points for our consideration on appeal.

POINT I

THE ORDER DENYING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS SHOULD BE REVERSED BECAUSE THE WARRANTLESS ENTRY BY THE POLICE WAS UNLAWFUL, AND BECAUSE THE STATE FAILED TO SHOW AN "ABANDONMENT" BY THE DEFENDANT.

POINT II

SINCE DETECTIVE BLACK'S TESTIMONY THAT 1009 WEST 3RD STREET WAS "A HIGH CRIME NARCOTIC AREA" WHERE "SHOOTINGS," "VIOLENT CONFRONTATIONS," AND "CRIMINAL ACTIVITY" OCCURRED WAS NOT RELEVANT TO ANY MATERIAL ISSUE IN THE CASE, IT WAS ELICITED BY THE PROSECUTOR FOR AN IMPROPER PURPOSE, AND THE TRIAL COURT'S FAILURE TO ISSUE A LIMITING INSTRUCTION RESULTED IN PLAIN ERROR (NOT RAISED BELOW).

POINT III

THE NOT GUILTY VERDICT ON COUNT TWO FOR POSSESSION OF PROHIBITED HOLLOW POINT BULLETS MADE THE DEFENDANT'S CONVICTION FOR UNLAWFUL POSSESSION OF THE WEAPON ON COUNT ONE IRRATIONALLY INCONSISTENT (NOT RAISED BELOW).

POINT IV

THE TRIAL COURT MISAPPLIED ITS DISCRETION IN ADMITTING PROOF OF THE DEFENDANT'S 13 YEAR OLD PRIOR CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS TO IMPEACH HIS CREDIBILITY BECAUSE THEY WERE REMOTE AND BECAUSE ITS RULING HAD AN ADVERSE IMPACT ON THE JURY'S FACT FINDING FUNCTION.

POINT V

THE DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL WAS PREJUDICED BY COMMENTS MADE BY THE PROSECUTOR IN SUMMATION (NOT RAISED BELOW). POINT VI

THE 15 YEAR BASE EXTENDED TERM SENTENCE WITH 7-1/2 YEARS OF PAROLE INELIGIBILITY IMPOSED ON THE DEFENDANT'S CONVICTION FOR SECOND DEGREE UNLAWFUL POSSESSION OF A WEAPON ON COUNT ONE WAS MANIFESTLY EXCESSIVE AND REPRESENTS A MISAPPLICATION OF JUDICIAL DISCRETION.

POINT VII

THE TRIAL COURT SHOULD HAVE ENTERED SUA SPONTE A JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL ON COUNT ONE AT THE END OF THE CASE (NOT RAISED BELOW).

For the reasons that follow, we reject these arguments and affirm.

A.

We begin our discussion with defendant's argument that Judge Miriam N. Span erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence. Defendant contends that the warrantless entry into a backyard by the police was ...


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