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State v. Harris

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

July 12, 2013

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
MICHAEL C. HARRIS, Defendant-Appellant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted June 18, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Salem County, Indictment No. 10-09-0503.

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Brian Plunkett, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, of counsel and on the brief).

John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Frank J. Ducoat, Deputy Attorney General, of counsel and on the brief).

Before Judges Parrillo and Messano.

PER CURIAM.

Following denial of his motion to suppress, defendant pled guilty to second-degree certain persons not to have weapons, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7(b). He was sentenced, in accordance with the negotiated plea agreement, to a five-year prison term without the possibility of parole. Defendant appeals, and we affirm.

According to the State's proofs at the suppression hearing, at about 3:00 p.m. on May 8, 2010, Salem County Prosecutor's Office Detective Elliott Hernandez received information from a confidential informant (CI), whom he knew to be reliable from previous experience, that defendant, whom he also knew, would be leaving a residence on Harmony Street in Penns Grove "shortly thereafter, " and transporting "a long gun, " possibly a shotgun, in a silver Mitsubishi Galant to State Street in the Borough. The CI specifically identified defendant by name. Detective Hernandez then alerted Penns Grove Police Sergeant Patrick Riley, who was working patrol, of the tip, and began surveillance of the area until defendant was observed some four hours later, at around 7:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, Sergeant Riley, who knew defendant from previous investigations, performed a motor vehicle check and discovered that defendant's driver's license was suspended. He relayed this information to Detective Hernandez, who was at the surveillance location two blocks from a residence on Harmony Street where the Mitsubishi was parked, directly in front, consistent with the CI's tip.

At around 7:30 p.m., Detective Hernandez saw a man he recognized as defendant exit the residence and walk to the back of the Mitsubishi. The car trunk was open but from his surveillance location, Detective Hernandez could not see what defendant was doing other than closing the trunk. Defendant then entered the car, drove to the stop sign at Franklin Street, and made a right onto Franklin towards West Main Street.

Sergeant Riley was parked in a marked patrol vehicle about a block away on West Main. When defendant reached the stop sign at the intersection of Franklin and West Main, he saw the marked police car. Defendant's left blinker was on, suggesting that he was going towards State Street, but instead he made a right onto West Main, proceeded to the next stop sign, and made a right onto Penn Street. At that point, Sergeant Riley activated his overhead lights and initiated a motor vehicle stop based on defendant's driving with a suspended license as well as the tip relayed to him earlier by Detective Hernandez.

When Sergeant Riley approached defendant's car and asked him for his driving credentials, defendant admitted that his license had been suspended. Sergeant Riley then had defendant exit the car, placed him under arrest, and transported him to police headquarters.

The stop took place about one house over from where the registered owner of the Mitsubishi, Tatiana Danzo, lived. Upon seeing the traffic stop, Danzo came over to the scene. Detective Hernandez requested, and Danzo gave, consent ...


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