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State of New Jersey v. Carlos Gomez

December 27, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
CARLOS GOMEZ, A/K/A JOSE GARCIA, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County, Indictment No. 08-10-1859.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 30, 2012

Before Judges Reisner and Hoffman.

Defendant Carlos Gomez appeals from his conviction for third degree burglary, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2; third degree theft, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3; and third degree hindering apprehension, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3b(4). He also appeals from the imposition of an extended term of imprisonment of ten years, with five years of parole ineligibility.

On appeal defendant raises the following arguments: POINT I: BECAUSE DEFENDANT WAS ARRESTED WITHOUT PROBABLE CAUSE, THE MOTION TO SUPPRESS SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED.

POINT II: THE JUDGE'S INADEQUATE INQUIRY INTO THE JURORS' CONTACT WITH DEFENDANT OUTSIDE THE COURTROOM, WHILE HE WAS IN RESTRAINTS AND IN CUSTODY OF THE SHERIFF'S OFFICERS, DEPRIVED DEFENDANT OF THE RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW AND A FAIR TRIAL BY AN IMPARTIAL JURY.

POINT III: DEFENDANT'S CONVICTION MUST BE REVERSED BECAUSE THE COURT ERRED IN PERMITTING OFFICER RAPOSO TO OFFER INADMISSIBLE OPINION TESTIMONY, AND FURTHER BY NOT DELIVERING AN INSTRUCTION ON EXPERT TESTIMONY, IN VIOLATION OF DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL.

POINT IV: THE COURT'S FAILURE TO INSTRUCT THE JURY THAT THE STATE HAD TO PROVE IDENTIFICATION BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT DENIED DEFENDANT HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS TO DUE PROCESS AND A FAIR TRIAL.

POINT V: DEFENDANT'S EXTENDED TERM SENTENCE OF TEN YEARS WITH FIVE YEARS OF PAROLE INELIGIBILITY IS EXCESSIVE AND MUST BE REDUCED.

For the reasons that follow, we affirm the conviction and the sentence.

I.

We begin by considering the suppression motion. The State presented evidence establishing the following facts. Belinda Caranza (Caranza) lives in a basement apartment in North Bergen. Her cousin, Eva Nunez (Nunez), lives above her in a first floor apartment. The entrance to both apartments is on the first floor.

On May 13, 2008, Caranza was alone in her apartment when she heard the doorbell ring. Caranza did not answer the door because she was alone and not expecting anyone. The doorbell continued to ring for approximately twenty minutes and then she began hearing noises upstairs. Next, Caranza called Nunez's cell phone and "asked her if she was home and she answered no[.]" Nunez called the police. Caranza stood at the bottom of the stairs and saw a person ...


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