On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, Indictment No. 09-02-0266.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Reisner and Hayden.
Following the denial of his motion to suppress evidence, defendant Maurice L. Inman pled guilty to first-degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1, and also entered pleas on two other unrelated indictments. The trial judge sentenced him on the robbery charge to twelve years imprisonment, subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, with the sentences for the crimes involved in two other guilty pleas to run concurrent to the robbery.
On appeal, defendant raises the following contentions for our consideration:
POINT I: THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE BECAUSE THE POLICE LACKED THE REASONABLE AND ARTICULABLE SUSPICION NECESSARY TO JUSTIFY THE MOTOR VEHICLE STOP.
POINT II: BECAUSE THE POLICE DID NOT ACT IN GOOD FAITH WHEN THEY STOPPED THE TAXICAB AND ARRESTED THE DEFENDANT, THE EVIDENCE HE DROPPED DURING AN ATTEMPTED FLIGHT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUPPRESSED.
A. The Exclusionary Rule Requires the Suppression of the Evidence.
B. Defendant's Attempt to Flee from the Officers was Not Sufficiently Attenuated from the Taint of the Police Conduct to Constitute an Intervening Event.
C. The Items That the Defendant Discarded During the Pursuit Were Not Abandoned.
Having considered defendant's arguments in light of the applicable legal principles, we affirm.
We discern the following facts from the record of the motion to suppress. At approximately 11:52 p.m. on September 21, 2008, Officer Anthony D'Onofrio of the Sayreville Police Department received a radio dispatch reporting an armed robbery at a motel on Route 35 North. A witness described the perpetrator as a heavy-set black male wearing baggy clothes and a blue shirt with a floral pattern. Officer D'Onofrio arrived at the crime scene only one and a half minutes after receiving the dispatch and saw a yellow taxicab approaching from the opposite direction about two hundred yards from the motel. No other vehicles or people were traveling the quiet back road at the time. As the vehicles passed each other, Officer D'Onofrio peered in the front window of the cab and saw a heavy-set black male in a white t-shirt, later identified as defendant, sitting in the back rear passenger seat. The officer believed the passenger fit the description of the suspect and stopped the cab.
Because the suspect was reported to be armed, Officer D'Onofrio approached the cab with his weapon drawn. He instructed defendant to raise his hands and exit the cab. Instead of complying, defendant reached down to the floor of the cab. The officer opened the rear passenger side door and saw a rolled up sweatshirt on the floor of the cab. By this time, other officers had arrived on the scene and ordered defendant to exit with his hands raised. Defendant got out, but did not raise his hands, and quickly ran into a nearby wooded area. As the officers chased defendant, ordering him to halt, defendant reached into his pockets and tossed out money and papers, which the police later recovered. Defendant ...