On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment No. 07-01-0332.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Fuentes, Ashrafi and Nugent.
Defendant Derrick Miller was tried before a jury over a period of five days and convicted of second degree eluding, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2(b), and third degree receiving stolen property, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7.*fn1 The court sentenced defendant to an aggregate term of eight years imprisonment.*fn2 After reviewing the record developed before the trial court, and mindful of prevailing legal standards, we affirm.
On November 10, 2006, the owner of an Audi A6 reported the vehicle stolen to the Newark Police Department. The owner had last seen the car when he parked it outside a Portuguese restaurant in Newark. At approximately 7:50 p.m. the following day, a liquor store in Newark was robbed by men wearing masks and brandishing guns. According to the complaining witness, two or three robbers took money and alcoholic beverages, and drove away in a "silver four door Audi," possibly model A6. The witness did not see the license plate of the car and was unable to determine how many occupants were in the vehicle.
That same night, Newark Police Officer William Golpe and Sergeant Mathew Ruand of the Street Crimes Unit were on patrol in a marked police car. Other officers were driving behind them.
Approximately ten minutes after the robbery, the officers drove past a residential area with a noticeable amount of pedestrian traffic and saw a silver Audi drive by. Aware that a silver Audi had been reported as the possible get-away car in the liquor store robbery, the officers decided to follow the car; a check of the license plate number quickly revealed that the car had been reported stolen. At this point, the officers activated the patrol car's overhead lights and sirens, signaling for the driver of the Audi to pull over.
In response, the Audi accelerated out of its traffic lane; a high speed pursuit ensued through what the police officers characterized as a predominantly residential area. The Audi's speed was estimated at sixty miles per hour or more, in a twenty-five miles per hour zone. The Audi came to a stop when it crashed into another occupied car. According to Sergeant Golpe (who was approximately six or seven car-lengths behind) all four of the Audi's doors opened and a number of individuals ran out.
Golpe testified that he saw the driver of the Audi leave the car from the driver's seat and begin to flee on foot. Golpe and another officer pursued the driver until they apprehended him. Golpe identified defendant as the driver. Two other individuals were also apprehended. One of those individuals was a juvenile who pled guilty to receiving stolen property.
The juvenile testified during defendant's trial. He indicated that defendant was not involved in the liquor store robbery. The juvenile testified that he stayed outside while two other individuals went inside to rob the liquor store. The juvenile and his cohorts thereafter drove the get-away car to a location where they picked up defendant, who sat in the rear seat, behind the driver. According to the juvenile, defendant was merely a passenger in the car, and was not connected in any way with the robbery. Defendant testified in his own defense, corroborating the juvenile's account of events. Defendant testified that he ran after the car crashed and failed to heed the police officer's command to stop because he believed the car was stolen.
Against these facts, defendant now appeals raising the ...