NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued October 2, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment No. 08-09-2688.
John P. Dell'Italia argued the cause for appellant (Dell'Italia, Affinito & Santola, attorneys; Mr. Dell'Italia, on the brief).
Jane Deaterly Plaisted, Special Deputy Attorney General/Acting Assistant Prosecutor, argued the cause for respondent (Carolyn A. Murray, Acting Essex County Prosecutor, attorney; Ms. Deaterly Plaisted, of counsel and on the brief).
Before Judges Sapp-Peterson, Lihotz, and Hoffman.
Tried by a jury, defendant Jose Carranza, was convicted of four counts of first-degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (counts two, three, four and five) and three counts of felony murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(3) (counts six, seven and eight), and acquitted of the remaining charges set forth in a nineteen count indictment. The charges stem from an August 4, 2007 gang attack upon four young adults by defendant, Rodolfo Godinez, Gerardo Gomez, Shahid Baskerville, Alexander Alfaro and Melvin Jovel. Various members of the gang committed numerous offenses as the victims were robbed, and some were beaten, sexually assaulted and/or slashed with a machete. Three of the victims were shot and killed. The fourth, although shot in the head, survived and appeared as the State's principal witness, who related the events that occurred during the attack.
On appeal, defendant challenges his felony murder convictions, raising these arguments for our consideration:
THE EVIDENCE WAS INSUFFICIENT TO SUPPORT A FELONY MURDER CONVICTION.
A. The robberies were completed when the murders took place.
B. The murders did not take place immediately following the robbery.
C. The murders were too dependent upon another's volitional acts to hold ...