On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Indictment No. 08-04-1051.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 19, 2012
Before Judges Messano and Lihotz.
Following a bench trial, defendant Damion Beeput was found guilty of second-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(1) (count one); third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(d) (count two); and fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(d) count three). The judge granted the State's motion to sentence defendant as a persistent offender, N.J.S.A. 2C:44-3(a), and imposed the following sentence: on count one, ten years' imprisonment with an 85% period of parole ineligibility pursuant to the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2; on count two, a concurrent five-year term of imprisonment; and, on count three, a concurrent eighteen-month term of imprisonment. The judge ordered that these sentences run consecutive to a sentence defendant was then serving.
Defendant raises the following issues on appeal:
THE JUDGE BELOW ERRED IN CONVICTING THE DEFENDANT OF SECOND-DEGREE AGGRAVATED ASSAULT, AS THE STATE DID NOT PROVE BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT THAT MR. BEEPUT ATTEMPTED TO CAUSE SERIOUS BODILY INJURY
THE DEFENDANT'S SENTENCE IS EXCESSIVE
We have considered these arguments in light of the record and applicable legal standards. We affirm.
On February 24, 2008, defendant was incarcerated at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution awaiting sentence having pled guilty to a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) offense. Scott Bedle, a corrections officer, testified that another inmate, George Hancock, was brought into section "A1" of the jail, a location where inmates were housed after initial processing. At approximately 7:45 p.m., while Hancock was watching television in the communal "day space," Bedle saw Hancock "jump out of his seat" and begin fighting with defendant. Hancock "went right to the floor" with defendant "[o]n top of him" striking Hancock with "[c]losed fists." After the men were separated, Bedle saw Hancock's skin "was pretty much peeling off the back of his neck." Defendant was wearing "yellow latex gloves" and shouting "[t]hat's what you get for [twenty] years . . . ."
Officer Thomas Huggan was also on duty at the time. He testified to seeing defendant "around the microwave." Shortly thereafter, Huggan saw Hancock "jump out of his chair." A fight ensued, and, after the men separated, Huggan noticed that Hancock's clothing was wet, his "skin was lifting off his neck area and he was bleeding." Huggan had pieces of Hancock's flesh on his arm. Officer James Walters also responded to the A1 area. He saw defendant in handcuffs in the "sallyport," and Hancock was "standing there bleeding, and it looked like his skin was melting off of him." Defendant was yelling, "You got me [twenty] years, you hurt me, I hurt you just like you hurt me."
Jennifer DeBellis, a nurse employed by an outside company that provided medical services to the jail, testified that Hancock "was first treated in the medical unit, and then once he was stabilized he went to the infirmary where [she was]." He was "hysterical" "[b]ecause of his anxiety and ...