NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted April 9, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Indictment No. 09-03-00659.
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Sylvia M. Orenstein, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, of counsel and on the brief).
Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Emily R. Anderson, Deputy Attorney General, of counsel and on the brief).
Before Judges Messano and Mantineo.
Defendant J.L., III, appeals from the judgment of conviction and sentence imposed following a trial at which the jury found him guilty of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4a (count two). The crimes were alleged to have occurred on November 1, 2008, when defendant's son, J.L., IV (Jimmy) was three months old. After review of the evidence in light of applicable legal standards, we affirm.
We discern the following facts and procedural history from the trial transcripts.
C.S., Jimmy's mother, testified that on November 1, 2008, she and defendant were living in the Neptune Motor Lodge in Neptune, with Jimmy, who was then three months old. Defendant would drive C.S. to work at Dunkin Donuts in Wall Township each day. On November 1, 2008, when C.S. left for work, Jimmy was in "perfect condition." Shortly after arriving at work, C.S. was informed her hours had been reduced so she subsequently made a number of calls to defendant to pick her up. During one of those calls C.S. heard Jimmy screaming in the background; she testified at trial that it sounded as if he had gas pains.
When defendant was late in arriving, C.S. asked why it took him so long. Defendant stated that he pulled over to check on Jimmy after a "near car accident" on the highway. Defendant told C.S. Jimmy was fine, so she did not check on him. Later that evening, when Jimmy did not wake up at his usual feeding time, C.S. became concerned and tried to rouse him. When Jimmy did not respond to her tickling, C.S. noticed his eye was bulged.
The three drove to Jersey Shore Medical Center. Jimmy scored low on the Glasgow scale, which measures mental status, causing the doctors to intubate the child. A CAT scan showed bleeding on top of Jimmy's brain. A lack of oxygen to Jimmy's brain demonstrated general trauma. There was also substantial bleeding behind Jimmy's left retina.
Later that evening into early the next morning, Detective Sean Murphy of the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Unit conducted interviews of C.S. and defendant to investigate the cause of Jimmy's injuries. According to defendant, after he dropped C.S. off at work, he returned to the motel. Later, on his way to pick up C.S., he was cut off by another vehicle causing him to ...