NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted December 3, 2012
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County, Indictment No. 2234-08-10.
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Brian P. Keenan, Assistant Public Defender, on the brief).
Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Joseph A. Glyn, Deputy
Attorney General, of counsel and on the brief).
Before Judges Graves and Espinosa.
Defendant Robert J. Carroway pled guilty to second-degree possession of a handgun without a permit, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b), after his suppression motion was denied. The court sentenced defendant in accordance with the plea agreement to a four-year prison term with three years of parole ineligibility. Defendant appeals from the January 10, 2011 order denying his suppression motion. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
Because the verbatim record of the suppression hearing on January 7, 2011, was lost, destroyed, or is otherwise unavailable, the evidence adduced at the suppression hearing was reconstructed pursuant to Rule 2:5-3(f), with certifications by Officers Edward O'Donnell and Edward Slimm of the Lindenwold Police Department. Several photographs were also presented to the trial court, which are not part of the record on appeal. Accordingly, we derive the following facts from the officers' certifications.
On May 26, 2010, at approximately 7:22 p.m., O'Donnell was driving a marked patrol car while leaving the Arborwood Condominium Complex (the Complex). The only way to enter or exit the Complex is by turning either right or left onto Gibbsboro Road. While waiting to leave the Complex, O'Donnell observed a blue minivan make a left turn into the Complex from Gibbsboro Road without using a turn signal. There were no cars behind the minivan, and a car traveling in the opposite direction had "stopped approximately seventy-five feet down the road at a traffic light." There were approximately fifteen to twenty people "in and around the Complex." The minivan was traveling at approximately ten to fifteen miles per hour when it passed within ten feet of the patrol car. In his certification, O'Donnell stated he stopped the minivan based on defendant's failure to signal when he made a left turn from Gibbsboro Road into the Complex. O'Donnell also explained that he believed defendant was driving with a suspended license:
I have known Mr. Carroway since he was fourteen years old. I have arrested him on five separate prior occasions and I was present when Mr. Carroway was the victim of a shooting. I have known Mr. Carroway to carry weapons and drugs. I was aware that he had recently been released from jail. I believed that Mr. Carroway's driver's license was suspended. I do not recall when, how (i.e., orally or in-writing), where, and by whom I was told that Mr. Carroway had recently been released from the jail and that his driver's license was suspended. We have regular briefings about when certain individuals have been or will be released from custody.
According to O'Donnell, he activated his overhead lights and pursued defendant's vehicle a short distance before it stopped. Defendant then fled on foot, with the minivan still running.
After O'Donnell stopped his vehicle he made sure no one was inside the minivan before he pursued defendant. At that point, Slimm arrived and attempted to open the driver's side door of the minivan, but it was locked. He then reached into the front passenger side window, which was open, unlocked the door and entered the minivan to turn off the ignition and remove the keys. While inside the minivan, Slimm observed a handgun in plain view between the center console and the driver's seat. O'Donnell eventually caught up with defendant and arrested him. Defendant was charged with ...