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State of New Jersey v. J.A

August 3, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
J.A., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County, Accusation No. 05-11-0878.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted May 1, 2012

Before Judges Payne and Reisner.

J.A., who at the age of fifteen, committed an armed robbery on three Hispanic males, shooting one to death, appeals the waiver of juvenile jurisdiction for purposes of trial and the transfer of his case to the Law Division. Once there, he pled guilty to aggravated manslaughter, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(1), and is presently serving an eighteen-year sentence, subject to the eighty-five percent parole bar of the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2.

On appeal, defendant raises the following issues:

POINT I

SINCE THE TRIAL COURT FOUND THAT THE OPPOSING EXPERT REPORTS REGARDING PROBABILITY OF REHABILITATION WERE "OFFSETTING" WITHOUT ANY TESTIMONY AND ERRONEOUSLY TOOK INTO ACCOUNT THE GRAVITY OF THE CHARGED CONDUCT, THE COURT'S CONCLUSION THAT DEFENDANT HAD FAILED TO SHOW PROBABILITY OF REHABILITATION WAS ERRONEOUS AND THE MATTER SHOULD BE REMANDED FOR A PROPER DETERMINATION. (Not Raised Below.) POINT II

THE IMPOSITION OF AN 18-YEAR TERM OF IMPRISONMENT FOR AGGRAVATED MANSLAUGHTER, SUBJECT TO AN 85% NERA PAROLE BAR WAS EXCESSIVE.

We affirm.

I.

The record contains evidence that, on November 15, 2003, defendant recruited two friends to join him in committing armed robbery. After targeting three Hispanic males, defendant attempted to rob one at gunpoint. When one of the victim's companions threatened defendant either with a brick or a block of concrete, defendant shot him in the chest and in the back, causing his death.

The three perpetrators fled. However all, accompanied by relatives, turned themselves in to the police on the following day and gave confessions.

While in custody, defendant was examined by defense psychologist Maureen R. Santina, Ph.D., who opined that he could be rehabilitated by the age of nineteen, and by a psychiatrist retained by the State, Charles F. Martinson, M.D., who reached the opposite conclusion. Both agreed that defendant had endured a traumatic childhood with considerable abuse and abandonment and multiple changes in custody, and that his present behavior had its origins in the abuse that he had suffered. They ...


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