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State v. Lora

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

October 9, 2013

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
PERSIO LORA, a/k/a PERSIO A. LORA, JOHN JOHNSON and JOHNNY LORA, Defendant-Appellant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted September 17, 2013

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Indictment No. 00-06-1137.

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Susan Brody, Deputy Public Defender II, of counsel and on the brief).

John L. Molinelli, Bergen County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Catherine A. Foddai, Senior Assistant Prosecutor, of counsel and on the brief).

Before Judges Fisher and Koblitz.

PER CURIAM

In February 2001 a jury convicted defendant of two counts of third-degree burglary, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2, including a burglary into a car and one count of third-degree theft, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3. After trial, defendant fled and was not apprehended for ten years.[1] On March 4, 2011, he was sentenced to three concurrent five-year terms. He now appeals, arguing that the trial court made numerous errors, most of which were not objected to by defense counsel at trial. We affirm.

The evidence at trial revealed the following facts. Late in the night on September 7, 1999, defendant, his brother and co-defendant, Alexander Lora, and Albert Sealy drove to Washington Garage in Bergenfield in defendant's car to steal some tire rims. Defendant parked his car in a church lot next to the fenced-in car repair lot. Alexander Lora climbed over the fence and removed three tires and rims from a Honda Accord parked in the garage lot. Although tools from the garage were used, he was unable to remove the fourth wheel. Sealy also climbed the fence and carried the wheels to defendant, who remained by his car outside the fence.

Bergenfield Police Officer Kevin Doheny noticed defendant's car in the empty church parking lot and asked if everything was all right. Officer Doheny testified that occupants of the car told him that they were fixing a flat tire and that nothing was wrong. Officer Doheny checked the car's license plate number to ensure it was not stolen, surveyed the church and rectory for any signs of entry, and then left the area. Defendant then drove away with Alexander Lora and Sealy.

The next morning, the theft of the three wheels, a car radio and cash from the garage were reported to the police. Tools from the garage were found near the Honda Accord. A glass window had been broken, allowing entry into the garage. Alexander Lora's fingerprint was found on glass from the garage window. Footprints on a car near the fence indicated where the fence was scaled by the intruders.

The police questioned defendant about the whereabouts of his brother, Claudio Lora, who was the rightful owner of the car used in the burglaries. Defendant admitted being present with Sealy and speaking to Officer Doheny in the early morning of September 8. After waiving his Miranda[2] rights, defendant denied that either of his brothers was with him and Sealy at the church parking lot. He also denied being involved with the burglary and theft of property from the garage that night.

Sealy pled guilty to an accusation and was therefore not indicted with defendant and Alexander Lora. Sealy testified for the State at trial, as he had agreed to do in exchange for a promised probationary sentence.

After both sides rested at trial, Alexander Lora, who had just been arrested entering the United States from the Dominican Republic, testified on behalf of defendant. Alexander Lora had pled guilty to these and other charges, but fled prior to sentencing. He testified that he went with Sealy to steal the tires and rims. He said ...


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