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State of New Jersey v. Christopher J. Stacruz

November 16, 2012

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



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County, Indictment No. 10-07-1235.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 31, 2012 -

Before Judges Nugent and Haas.

Tried before a jury on a multi-count indictment, defendant was convicted of fourth-degree aggravated assault, recklessly causing bodily injury to Jessie Ringor with a deadly weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(3) (count three); third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d (count four); and fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d (count five). The jury found defendant not guilty of second-degree aggravated assault, purposely causing serious bodily injury to Gil Geyrosaga under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1) (count one), and fourth-degree aggravated assault, recklessly causing bodily injury to Gil Geyrosaga with a deadly weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(3) (count two).

At sentencing, the judge merged the conviction for count five into count four. The judge sentenced defendant to five years probation, conditioned upon 364 days in the county jail, on count three, and five years probation, conditioned upon 364 days in the county jail, on count four. The sentences were to run concurrent with each other. Defendant was also assessed appropriate fines and penalties.

On appeal, defendant has raised the following contentions:

POINT I

THE TRIAL COURT'S JURY INSTRUCTION ON CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE IMPROPERLY INVITED THE JURY TO REJECT THE DEFENDANT'S TESTIMONY AND MINIMIZED THE STATE'S BURDEN OF PROOF (NOT RAISED BELOW).

POINT II

ELICITING TESTIMONY THAT REFERRED TO GIL GEYROSAGA AS "THE VICTIM" AND TO DEFENDANT AS "THE SUSPECT" PREJUDICED DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL (NOT RAISED BELOW).

POINT III

PROSECUTORIAL "OVER-ZEALOUSNESS" IN SUMMATION PREJUDICED DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL.

A. WITHOUT SUPPORTING EXPERT TESTIMONY, THE PROSECUTOR'S SUMMATION WAS IMPROPER.

B. THE PROSECUTOR MALIGNED TRIAL COUNSEL.

C. THE PROSECUTOR IMPROPERLY VOUCHED FOR THE CREDIBILITY ...


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