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State of New Jersey v. V.C

July 31, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
V.C.,
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Ocean County, Indictment No. 05-02-0267.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted July 24, 2012

Before Judges Lihotz and Baxter.

Following a retrial, defendant V.C. appeals from his December 11, 2009 conviction on charges of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a) (count one); second-degree sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(b) (count two); second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a) (count three); and third-degree aggravated criminal sexual contact, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3(b) (count four). After appropriate merger, the judge sentenced defendant on count one to a fifteen-year term of imprisonment subject to the eighty-five percent mandatory parole ineligibility term required by N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. On count three, the judge imposed a consecutive seven-year term of imprisonment.

On appeal, defendant raises the following claims:

I. THE PROSECUTOR IMPROPERLY BOLSTERED THE CREDIBILITY OF F.P. AND L.R., AND IMPROPERLY INJECTED HIMSELF INTO THE JURY'S ASSESSMENT OF THE DEFENDANT'S CREDIBILITY BY ELICITING TESTIMONY THAT BOTH HE AND "A JUDGE" APPROVED OF THE CHARGES FILED AGAINST DEFENDANT (Not Raised Below).

II. THE DEFENDANT'S CONVICTION SHOULD BE REVERSED BECAUSE THE TRIAL COURT'S RULINGS CONCERNING DEFENDANT'S PRIOR CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS RESULTED IN HARMFUL ERROR.

A. The Defendant's Prior Convictions Were Remote and Their Probative Value Was Vastly Outweighed By Prejudice.

B. The Failure to Sanitize the Nature of the Prior Convictions Aggravated the Jury's Community "Sense of Justice" Against the Defendant.

III. THE DEFENDANT'S CONVICTION SHOULD BE REVERSED BECAUSE L.R.'S "VICTIM-IMPACT" TYPE OF TESTIMONY WAS IRRELEVANT AND PREJUDICED THE DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL.

IV. THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR A JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL AT THE END OF THE STATE'S CASE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED.

V. THE AGGREGATE BASE CUSTODIAL TERM OF 22 YEARS WAS MANIFESTLY EXCESSIVE.

We affirm.

I.

When F.P. was approximately eleven years old, her mother, L.R.,*fn1 married defendant. According to F.P.'s trial testimony, defendant started sneaking into her bedroom, and into her bed, when she was approximately thirteen years old. We described the trial testimony from the first trial in considerable detail in our prior opinion, State v. V.C., No. A-3810-06 (App. Div. March 25, 2009).*fn2 Because the testimony produced during the 2009 retrial bore substantial similarity to the testimony produced in the initial 2006 trial, we restate the facts only briefly and incorporate by reference the factual recitation from our earlier ...


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