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State of New Jersey v. Corderrol Priester

July 18, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
CORDERROL PRIESTER, AKA PRIESTER CORDERROL, CORDERROL T. PRIESTER AND CORDERROL T. PRISTER. DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, Indictment No. 06-12-1110.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted March 6, 2012 Before Judges Payne, Reisner and Hayden.

Following trial on charges arising from a home invasion, defendant, Corderrol Priester, was found guilty of first-degree kidnapping, N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1b (count one); second-degree kidnapping, N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1b (count two); third-degree criminal restraint, N.J.S.A. 2C:13-2 (count three); two counts of first-degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (counts four and six); two counts of second-degree burglary, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2 (counts eight and nine); second-degree possession of a weapon, a gun, for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a (count ten); third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3b (count eleven); five counts of fourth-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(4) (counts twelve through sixteen); and one count of third-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(2) (count seventeen).

At sentencing, the court merged count three into count four; count nine into count eight; counts ten, twelve and seventeen into count four; and count fourteen into count six. The court then sentenced defendant on count one (first-degree kidnapping) to a fifteen-year period of imprisonment, subject to an eighty-five percent period of parole ineligibility pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2; on count two (second-degree kidnapping) to a consecutive five-year period of imprisonment, subject to the parole ineligibility provisions of NERA; on count four (first-degree robbery) to a consecutive ten-year period of imprisonment, subject to the parole ineligibility provisions of NERA; on count six (first-degree robbery) to a consecutive ten-year period of imprisonment, subject to the parole ineligibility provisions of NERA; on count eight (second-degree burglary) to a concurrent five-year period of imprisonment, subject to the parole ineligibility provisions of NERA; on count eleven (third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon) to a concurrent five-year period of imprisonment; on count thirteen (fourth-degree aggravated assault) to a concurrent eighteen-month period of imprisonment, subject to an eighteen-month period of parole ineligibility pursuant to the Graves Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(c); on count fifteen (fourth-degree aggravated assault) to a concurrent eighteen-month period of imprisonment, subject to an eighteen-month period of parole ineligibility pursuant to the Graves Act; and on count sixteen (fourth-degree aggravated assault) to a concurrent eighteen-month period of imprisonment, subject to an eighteen-month period of parole ineligibility pursuant to the Graves Act.

Defendant has appealed his convictions and sentence, presenting the following arguments for our consideration:

POINT ONE

THE JUDGE'S CHARGE ON ACCOMPLICE LIABILITY WAS AWKWARDLY SEPARATED FROM THE SUBSTANTIVE CHARGES, INADEQUATELY TAILORED TO THE FACTS OF THE CASE, AND FAILED TO PROPERLY CONVEY THAT AN ACCOMPLICE COULD BE FOUND GUILTY OF A LESSER OFFENSE THAN THE PRINCIPAL. (Not Raised Below.)

POINT TWO

TESTIMONY THAT CRAWFORD SPOTTED A PERSON ON THE STREET WHOM HE WAS CERTAIN WAS THE GUNMAN DID NOT QUALIFY AS A "PRIOR IDENTIFICATION" WHERE THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE, DIRECT OR CIRCUMSTANTIAL, THAT THE MAN CRAWFORD SPOTTED WAS PRIESTER. THUS, THE JURY SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN PERMITTED TO CONSIDER THE TESTIMONY AS PROOF THAT PRIESTER WAS THE GUNMAN OR AS CORROBORATION FOR CRAWFORD'S IN-COURT IDENTIFICATION. (Not Raised Below.)

POINT THREE

ADMISSION OF THE OUT-OF-COURT IDENTIFICATIONS OF PRIESTER MADE BY CRAWFORD AND BRANTLEY, WHICH WERE IMPERMISSIBLY SUGGESTIVE AND INSUFFICIENTLY RELIABLE, VIOLATED PRIESTER'S RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL AND DUE PROCESS OF LAW. (Partially Raised Below.)

POINT FOUR

THE JUDGE'S INSTRUCTIONS REGARDING THE IN-COURT AND OUT-OF-COURT IDENTIFICATIONS WERE MISLEADING, AS THEY FOCUSED ON FACTORS THAT WERE IRRELEVANT AND FAILED TO MENTION FACTORS CRITICAL TO THE RELIABILITY OF THE IDENTIFICATION EVIDENCE. (Not Raised Below.)

POINT FIVE

THE TRIAL JUDGE'S DECISION TO IMPOSE FOUR CONSECUTIVE NERA SENTENCES CONSTITUTED ...


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