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State v. Campbell

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

October 22, 2013

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Respondent,


Submitted September 23, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County, Indictment Nos. 10-03-0595, 12-02-0310 and 12-03-0186.

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

Gaetano T. Gregory, Acting Hudson County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Miriam Acevedo, Special Deputy Attorney General/ Acting Assistant Prosecutor, on the brief).

Before Judges Parrillo and Harris.


Tried by a jury, defendant Latoya Campbell, a/k/a Destiny Nelson, was convicted of first-degree carjacking, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-2; third-degree receipt of stolen property, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7; third-degree fraudulent use of a credit card, N.J.S.A. 2C:21-6(h); third-degree hindering apprehension or prosecution, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3(b)(4); and the disorderly persons offense of simple assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(a). Thereafter, defendant pled guilty to one count of a multi-count indictment charging third-degree possession of cocaine, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1), and to third-degree bail jumping, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-7, charged in a separate accusation. On the crimes for which she was convicted by a jury, defendant was sentenced to an aggregate fifteen-year term subject to an eighty-five percent parole disqualifier. She received a concurrent five-year term on the drug offense and a consecutive five-year term on the bail jumping conviction. Defendant appeals, and we affirm.

According to the State's proofs at trial, on October 11, 2009, at about 4:00 p.m., defendant and another woman, Q.D., laid in wait in the parking garage of the Newport Mall in Jersey City, until Theresa Capan, whom they had earlier approached under the pretext of requesting her help, returned to her car from shopping. As Capan approached her silver Scion coupe, defendant and her accomplice emerged from their hiding spot and started to repeatedly punch Capan in the face and head. Capan put her purse in the car and attempted to flee, but was pulled from the driver's seat, striking the ground with her knee, and had her keys ripped from her hand. Before she regained her composure, the two women drove off with the car.

The car, equipped with a LoJack homing device that allows law enforcement to track its location, was found that same night at around 7:00 p.m., in the parking lot of another shopping destination — the Jersey Gardens Mall in Elizabeth. After confirming it was the right silver Scion, Port Authority police officer Joseph Cascarelli and fellow officers staked out the car to see who would be returning to the vehicle. Minutes later, defendant and Q.D. approached the Scion and loaded the car with shopping bags.

When ordered to stop and raise their hands, defendant dropped an object to the ground and the Scion keys were recovered by defendant's feet. Defendant also had Capan's driver's license in her hand at the time of arrest. A search of the vehicle revealed several shopping bags of women's clothing and boots. One of the bags contained a purse and a receipt from Aldo for $46.58 charged to Capan's bank card. Another bag contained Uggs boots and a receipt from Journeys Kidz for $239.98, also charged to Capan's bank card. Capan had neither purchased nor authorized the purchase of these items.

Defendant, who testified in her own defense, denied ever being at the Newport Mall and claimed she was at the Jersey Gardens Mall with her mother when she encountered two of her friends, Q.D. and Raquesha Williams. At some point, Williams left defendant and Q.D., and agreed to meet them back at Q.D.'s aunt's car, which Q.D. told defendant that she had borrowed. While shopping, Q.D. bought defendant Uggs boots at Journeys Kidz. After they finished shopping, and as they approached the silver Scion, police officers emerged with guns drawn. The two women were arrested and taken into custody, at which point they told police that they were waiting for Williams, who never did return to the vehicle after the police once again staked out the scene.

At the police station, defendant gave the officers a false name and date of birth, indicating she was a juvenile, in the hope of receiving more favorable treatment and not, according to defendant, to evade responsibility for the carjacking. At around 11:00 p.m., Capan — bruised and swollen — arrived at the detention ...

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