NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued December 11, 2013.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County, Indictment Nos. 09-08-861, 00-08-861 and Accusation No. 03-12-836.
Stephen P. Hunter, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant (Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney; Mr. Hunter, of counsel and on the brief).
Teresa A. Blair, Deputy Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent (John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney; Ms. Blair, of counsel and on the brief).
Before Judges Fuentes, Fasciale and Haas.
Defendant appeals from his convictions for third-degree endangering the welfare of a child, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4a; and fourth-degree criminal sexual contact, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3b. We affirm.
Defendant was tried before a jury on four days in March 2011. The State produced testimony from the victim, Trenton Police Officers Antonio Cruz and Stanley Olschewski, and Leonard Wimbush. Defendant did not testify. We discern the following facts from the evidence adduced at trial.
In March 2009, the fourteen-year-old victim stopped at a store to buy a snack as she walked to school. Before entering the store, she noticed a man, later identified as defendant, who approached her, walked away, and started to follow another girl. The victim observed that the man was wearing a yellow ski mask that concealed his face and a "blue checkered and white jacket and black pants." As the victim exited the store and crossed the street, the man whispered "Pssst, " causing her to turn and see his exposed penis; the victim also said the man masturbated in front of her.
As the victim ran towards her nearby school, she noticed Wimbush helping his daughter into his vehicle, and told him a man had just "flashed" her. Wimbush saw the man the victim briefly described to him leap out of some nearby bushes and started chasing him. The victim continued to school and notified a security guard who called the police.
Wimbush chased the man down the street and around the back of an apartment building, where the man "looked [Wimbush] dead in the face for a good three to five seconds" before jumping over a wooden fence. Wimbush testified that the man's face was "scruffled, like he hadn't shaved in a couple days" and he had a "beady little eye look." Wimbush, who was wearing slippers and could not run easily, returned to his apartment, put on sneakers, and waited for the police.
Officer Olschewski arrived at the corner store and obtained a statement from Wimbush; Officer Cruz arrived at the store shortly thereafter. Wimbush told the officers that the suspect was an African American man, approximately in his forties, who was wearing a plaid jacket, ski mask, and dark pants. Cruz searched the immediate area and questioned the victim, while Olschewski and Wimbush searched the neighborhood in a police car.
Olschewski and Wimbush arrived at an abandoned railroad track bed a few blocks from the store and saw someone approximately 100 and 200 yards away wearing a jacket and hood that matched Wimbush's description of the clothing worn by the suspect. The person looked back at them, attempted to ...