On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Indictment No. 08-12-1995.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted July 24, 2012 -
Before Judges Lihotz and Baxter.
Following a jury trial, defendant Tashema Cotman appeals from her conviction of third-degree receiving stolen property, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7, challenging the validity of the judge's instructions to the jury and the sufficiency of the State's evidence. She also maintains the sentence imposed by the trial judge was excessive. More specifically, on appeal defendant argues:
THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED PLAIN ERROR IN INSTRUCTING THE JURY AS TO THE CRIME OF RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY IN THE THIRD DEGREE BECAUSE THERE WAS INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT A CONVICTION.
THE TRIAL JUDGE MISAPPLIED THE LAW AND COMMITTED ERROR IN FAILING TO ENTER A DIRECTED VERDICT OF THE CHARGE OF RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY IN THE THIRD DEGREE AND IN FAILING TO FULLY GRANT DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR A VOLUNTARY DISMISSAL PURSUANT TO R. 3:18-1 BECAUSE THE EVIDENCE INTRODUCED AT TRIAL WAS INSUFFICIENT TO SUPPORT A CONVICTION.
THE TRIAL JUDGE MISAPPLIED THE LAW BY IMPOSING AN EXCESSIVE SENTENCE.
The facts were adduced from the jury trial presided over by Judge Donald R. Venezia. On September 4, 2008, Luis Jimenez, a loss prevention officer for the Macy's department store located at the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, observed four juveniles as they entered the store's fashion jewelry department, carrying identical large, leather handbags, two white and one black. The group separated into two pairs and signaled to each other from their positions in the department. The first pair selected a quantity of items, put them in one of the leather handbags, and then walked toward the store's exit. Jimenez did not attempt to stop them, rather he continued to focus on the second pair's activities. Jimenez watched the second pair select jewelry from the fashion accessory racks, remove the store tags, and drop the items into their bags as they walked toward the exit. Macy's security video cameras captured some of this activity.
Jimenez followed the second pair through the store's Route 17 South exit doors, where he saw the first pair waiting. The second pair handed jewelry to the first pair. Jimenez identified himself as a loss prevention officer and told the group to stop. The first pair walked away, tossing the jewelry under a parked vehicle. Jimenez did not pursue them because his authority extended only twenty-five feet from the door. Jimenez detained the second ...