STATE OF NEW JERSEY IN THE INTEREST OF A.A., Juvenile-Appellant.
Submitted April 11, 2018
appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division,
Family Part, Hudson County, FJ-09-118-17.
E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant A.A.
(Alyssa Aiello, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, of counsel
and on the briefs).
Suarez, Hudson County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent
State of New Jersey (Luisa M. Florez, Assistant Prosecutor,
on the brief).
Judges Fuentes, Koblitz and Manahan.
case presents a novel issue in the context of
self-incrimination. The issue is whether it is incongruous to
require the presence of a parent prior to a waiver of
Miranda rights to safeguard a juvenile's right
against self-incrimination, yet allow police eavesdropping on
the parent-child communication that proves antithetical to
A.A. appeals from an adjudication
of delinquency for conduct which, if committed by an adult,
would constitute a crime. A.A. was originally charged with
attempted murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3 and 2C:5-1; possession of
a firearm for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a);
unlawful possession of a firearm, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b); and
possession of a firearm by minors, N.J.S.A. 2C:58-6.1.
Following a hearing, A.A. was adjudicated delinquent on two
counts of second-degree aggravated assault as lesser-included
offenses of attempted murder, possession of a weapon for an
unlawful purpose, unlawful possession of weapons, and
possession of firearms by minors. The disposition was to a
two-year custodial term at the New Jersey Training School for
derive the following facts from the hearing record. At
approximately 9:15 p.m. on July 7, 2016, two individuals
suffered non-life-threatening gunshot wounds to the leg as
the result of a street shooting which took place on Wilkinson
Avenue in Jersey City. On that date and time, Jersey City
Police Officer Joseph Labarbera was on duty with another
officer. While operating an unmarked vehicle, Labarbera
observed three African American males on bicycles traveling
northbound on Bergen Avenue. Labarbera lost sight of the
cyclists after they made a right turn onto Wilkinson Avenue.
Seconds later, Labarbera heard gun shots. Labarbera reported
the incident over his police radio. The report included his
observation of the three African American males on bicycles
turning down Wilkinson Avenue just prior to the shooting.
Teddy Roque of the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office
responded to the report of gunshots fired. While en route to
the scene, Roque passed two African American males riding
tandem on a bicycle. After Rogue heard the report regarding
African American males on bicycles involved in the shooting,
he drove to the area of Garfield Avenue where he again
observed the two males and conducted a stop.
responded to the location of the stop. When Labarbera
arrived, he recognized one of the individuals as A.A., a
juvenile whom he had arrested on prior occasions for curfew
violations. Labarbera also identified A.A. and the other
juvenile as two of the three cyclists he observed in the
Wilkinson Avenue location just prior to the shooting.
they were detained, police conducted a search of both A.A.
and the other juvenile and the area where Roque first
observed the juveniles. Neither search resulted in anything
of evidentiary value. A more extensive search was conducted
by officers with K-9 units, which recovered shell casings and
a projectile in the area where the shooting
occurred. A.A. was taken into custody, transported
to the juvenile detention center and placed in a holding
October 27, 2016, the court held a N.J.R.E. 104(c) hearing on
the State's motion to admit statements made by A.A. to
his mother while being held at the juvenile detention center.
During the hearing, Jersey City Detective Joseph Chidichimo
testified that he contacted A.A.'s mother relative to his
detention. Upon the mother's arrival at what Chidichimo
described as "the Jersey City Police Department,
juvenile building," Chidichimo advised her about the
incident and A.A's alleged involvement. According to
Chidichimo, the mother became very emotional and asked to
speak with A.A. Chidichimo permitted A.A. to speak to his
mother from a room opposite the holding cell. Chidichimo stated
he was located approximately ten-to-twelve feet away from the
holding cell and overheard A.A.'s mother ask him if he
was on Wilkinson Avenue. A.A. responded, "Yes, I was on
Wilkinson." Chidichimo then overheard A.A.'s mother
ask him, "Why?" to which he responded,
"Because they jumped us last week." Chidichimo
acknowledged that, although trained to read Miranda
warnings prior to questioning a suspect, he did not read A.A.
his warnings as he originally intended prior to overhearing
conclusion of the hearing, the judge held that A.A.'s
statement was admissible. The judge reasoned that the
statement was not the result of police interrogation and,
therefore, Miranda was not implicated.
trial commenced immediately following the decision on the
motion and took place over three days. The State's proofs
included the testimony of Labarbera and Rogue, the statement
of A.A. and a surveillance video of the scene. The video
depicted three individuals riding bicycles in a single file
formation. The third cyclist pulled what appeared to be a gun
from his waist area with his left hand which was followed by
flashes of light. At trial, Labarbera and Rogue provided
their version of the events consistent with their N.J.R.E.
104 hearing testimony.
conclusion of the trial, the judge stated that "the
video is one of the strongest items in evidence that
satis[fies] me that those three individuals that were riding
together . . . act[ed] in concert." The judge added that
after careful review of the video he "saw  a
coordinated movement that [was] almost like a formation for
a plan . . . of attack." The judge further held that
just before the shots were fired, the cyclists
"accelerate, they put their head down and they keep . .
. the same formation. One behind the other in this symmetry,
[w]hich indicated to me that this was planned precisely to be
able to carry out what happened." Further, the judge
stated that because the cyclists acted in concert, they acted
as "accomplices" to one another. The judge
determined that A.A. was one of the three cyclists based upon
Labarbera's identification, and that the statements made
by A.A. to his mother established a motive for the shooting.
Based upon these findings, the judge adjudicated A.A.
appeal, A.A. raises the following points:
A.A.'S ADJUDICATIONS OF DELINQUENCY FOR COMMITTING
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT CANNOT STAND BECAUSE THE STATE'S
FAILURE TO PROVE THE IDENTITY OF THE ALLEGED VICTIMS REQUIRED
ENTRY OF A JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL ON ...