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State v. Brown

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

December 24, 2013

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
LISA BROWN, Defendant-Appellant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued December 3, 2013

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Somerset County, Indictment No. 09-09-00631.

Peter T. Blum, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant (Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney; Mr. Blum, of counsel and on the brief).

James L. McConnell, Assistant Prosecutor, argued the cause for respondent (Geoffrey D. Soriano, Somerset County Prosecutor, attorney; Mr. McConnell, of counsel and on the brief).

Before Judges Fisher and Koblitz.

PER CURIAM

A Somerset County jury convicted defendant Lisa Brown of two counts of third-degree terroristic threats, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3(a), one count of third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(d), and one count of fourth-degree criminal mischief, N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3(a)(1). In a road-rage incident, defendant threatened to kill a family while swinging a large knife close to the father's face. She received one sentence of five years imprisonment with eighteen months of parole ineligibility on all four convictions. We affirm the convictions and reverse and remand for resentencing only.

At trial, the following facts were developed through the victims' testimony. The husband-and-wife victims were driving with their two young children when they stopped at a traffic light. They heard the screeching sound of a car coming to an abrupt stop behind them, followed by the banging sound of something hitting the back of their car.

The driver of the rear car and her passenger, defendant, exited their car as did the husband, who was driving the car in front. Defendant was holding a butcher knife, which she pointed and waived toward the husband, threatening to kill him as she yelled and cursed at him, asking why he was driving the way he was driving. Seeing what was happening, the wife also got out of the car. She stood in front of defendant, crying and pleading with her to stop. Defendant continued to swing the knife approximately six inches from the father's face, saying, "I'm going to stab you, I'm going to kill you and your kids. I'll kill you all. I've done it before, and I'll do it again. I'm not scared of doing it again." Both parents testified that they took defendant's threats seriously and feared for their own lives and the lives of their children.

After everyone returned to their cars, while his wife was calling the police, the husband testified that he may have reversed his car to block defendant's car and prevent her from escaping before police arrived. With her car blocked in, defendant got back out, and began kicking and stabbing the victims' car, trying to break the windows and kick in or open the doors. Photographs of the victims' car showed a number of scratches and "a dent and a deep scratch . . . where an object [was] pushed into the car door" at one point and dragged along the door to another point. The car sustained approximately $1, 250 of damage. At the close of the State's case, defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal pursuant to Rule 3:18-1.

Defendant did not testify, but the driver of her car testified that the husband was the aggressor and that defendant did not have a knife, make any threats or otherwise damage the victims' car.

On appeal defendant raises the ...

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