Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Johnson

Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Gloucester

November 5, 2018

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff,
v.
SHAWN JOHNSON, and RUMIEJAH UKAWABUTU, Defendants. Event Start Date Event End Date Number of Days Number of Days in Jail Days of Overlap Excludable Time (Days) Category / Justification

          Decided: September 27, 2017

          Michael Mellon, Assistant Prosecutor, attorney for plaintiff (Sean F. Dalton, Gloucester County Prosecutor, attorney).

          Edward J. Crisonino, attorney for defendant Ukawabutu.

          Steven M. Zorowitz, Designated Counsel, attorney for defendant Johnson (Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney).

          Richard F. O'Brien, III, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, former attorney for defendant Johnson (Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney).

          K. T. SMITH, J.S.C.

         Before the court is the State's motion for excludable time. The State's motion was filed by Assistant Prosecutor Michael Mellon of the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office. Defendant Shawn Johnson was initially represented by Deputy Public Defender Richard O'Brien and later by pool counsel, Steven Zorowitz, who both responded to the motion in writing and through oral argument. Counsel for defendant Rumiejah Ukawabutu, Edward Crisonino, only argued the motion orally. The State also filed a supplemental brief in support of its motion. Oral argument was heard on September 18, 2017, and September 22, 2017. For the reasons stated below, the motion is GRANTED.

         FACTUAL SUMMARY

         The facts are limited to those pertinent to the motion for excludable time. The court notes that the facts are gleaned from the record alone. No counsel submitted a detailed recitation of the facts or procedural history.

         On January 3, 2017, defendants Shawn Johnson and Rumiejah Ukawabutu allegedly committed a series of crimes, including kidnapping, robbery, attempted murder, and weapons offenses. The State asserts that the charged offenses occurred within Gloucester and Camden Counties.

         Victim B.M. rented a warehouse in Westville, New Jersey for a private business. At approximately 8:30 p.m. on January 3, 2017, three black males, two armed with firearms, entered B.M.'s warehouse and proceeded to bind him with zip ties and strike his head and body with a gun. Victim A.L. arrived at the warehouse a short time later, apparently unaware of what was happening. Upon arrival, he too was bound with zip ties and was struck about his head and body with a rubber mallet. B.M. and A.L. knew one of the assailants, Johnson, and had previously planned to meet with him that evening to conduct a drug transaction. They had conducted drug transactions with Johnson in the past. Two of the assailants wore masks while the third, Johnson, did not. The assailants demanded money and drugs.

         During the incident, A.L. disclosed that he had $10, 000 in his Cherry Hill, New Jersey home. The three suspects then removed A.L. (who was still zip-tied) from the warehouse, placed A.L. in his own car, got into the vehicle, and drove to A.L.'s home. B.M. was left behind. Upon arrival at A.L.'s Cherry Hill home, the suspects were scared off due to A.L.'s family members and dogs. They proceeded to drop A.L. off in the rear of a closed business in the area.

         A.L. was able to summon help and was ultimately transported to Cooper University Hospital in Camden, New Jersey. A.L. sustained a depressed skull fracture, a fractured scapula, and a fractured wrist. After receiving medical treatment, A.L. spoke with police and explained what happened. A.L. advised police that a cell phone found by police in A.L.'s car was not his. Police believed that the phone belonged to one of the suspects.

         After speaking with A.L., the police eventually found B.M. He had a laceration on his head from being struck with a firearm and injuries to both wrists consistent with being restrained by zip ties. B.M. identified one of the suspects as Johnson. A.L. subsequently identified Johnson as well. Johnson was later arrested on January 20, 2017.

         The Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office was subsequently granted a Communications Data Warrant for Johnson's telephone facility as well as the cell phone found in A.L.'s vehicle. The Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office performed a forensic extraction of the phone found in A.L.'s vehicle. After an analysis of the data extracted from that phone, the information derived from the phone led law enforcement to Ukawabutu as one of the assailants.

         After further investigation, including analyzing text messages and emails, reviewing security camera footage, tracking firearm sales transactions, and communicating with the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office and a United States Postal Inspector, an arrest warrant was issued for Ukawabutu. Further, in light of the above referenced analysis, on February 6, 2017, the police obtained a search warrant to search a residence in Atlantic City, New Jersey believed to be connected with Ukawabutu. Ukawabutu was arrested on February 8, 2017.

         These crimes took place in both Gloucester and Camden Counties. During the course of the investigation, evidence relating to these crimes was gathered through efforts of investigators and detectives from the prosecutor's offices in Gloucester, Camden, and Atlantic Counties. Further, evidence was gathered through law enforcement efforts in several municipalities within those counties, including but not limited to Deptford, Westville, Cherry Hill, and Atlantic City.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On January 25, 2017, Johnson was ordered detained pretrial. Ukawabutu was detained pretrial by order dated February 16, 2017.

         A Gloucester County Grand Jury returned a true bill for Indictment Number 17-04-00232-I on April 12, 2017. Count One charges Johnson with Attempted Murder, first degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1/2C:11-3(a)(3). Count Two charges Johnson with Attempted Murder, first degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1/2C:11-3(a)(3). Count Three charges Johnson with Robbery, first degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1(a)(1). Count Four charges Johnson with Robbery, first degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1(a)(1). Count Five charges Johnson with Kidnapping, first degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1(b)(2). Count Six charges Johnson and Ukawabutu with Conspiracy to Commit Murder, first degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2/2C:11-3(a)(1). Count Seven charges Ukawabutu with Attempted Murder, first degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1/2C:11-3(a)(3). Count Eight charges Ukawabutu with Attempted Murder, first degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1/2C:11-3(a)(3). Count Nine charges Ukawabutu with Robbery, first degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1(a)(1). Count Ten charges Ukawabutu with Robbery, first degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1(a)(1). Count Eleven charges Ukawabutu with Kidnapping, first degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1(b)(2). Count Twelve charges Ukawabutu with Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, third degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b). Count Thirteen charges Ukawabutu with Possession of Weapons for Unlawful Purposes, third degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a).

         On June 9, 2017, an arraignment hearing was held for Johnson. Discovery was ordered to be complete by July 28, 2017.

         By letter dated June 7, 2017, counsel for Ukawabutu requested an adjournment of the June 9, 2017, arraignment hearing due to his unavailability. On June 23, 2017, an arraignment hearing was held for Ukawabutu. Discovery was ordered to be complete by July 28, 2017. By order dated June 7, 2017, fifteen days were excluded from the speedy trial calculation due to defense counsel's unavailability and attributable to Ukawabutu, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:162-22(b)(1)(d) and Rule 3:25-4(d)(2)(D).

         On June 5, 2017, counsel for Ukawabutu filed a pretrial motion for a Wade/Henderson Hearing. The motion was scheduled for September 22, 2017. On June 23, 2017, the court entered an excludable time order due to the pretrial motion and excluded 110 days from June 5, 2017 to September 22, 2017, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:162-22(b)(1)(c) and Rule 3:25-4(d)(2)(C). However, on August 11, 2017, counsel for Ukawabutu orally withdrew his Wade/Henderson motion.

         Since this case was indicted, the State has received discovery requests from defendants dated May 18, 2017; June 9, 2017; June 15, 2017; July 16, 2017; July 18, 2017; and August 3, 2017. Further, the State has sent discovery to defendants on July 5, 2017; July 7, 2017; July 21, 2017; July 28, 2017; August 7, 2017; and August 9, 2017. According to the parties, there is still additional discovery outstanding. Of note, outstanding are over 700 pages of medical records regarding the alleged victims. The State claims it did not receive the records from the medical providers and/or institutions until the first week of August 2017. The State asserts that these records require redaction of personal identifier information before they can be released. The State submits that though there have been people working on the redactions, it does not have the resources available to designate one individual to redacting the document, let alone several.

         Next, the State asserts that it is awaiting the results of DNA analysis from the New Jersey State Police Forensics laboratory of a buccal swab of Johnson. The State took the swab September 14, 2017, at the Cumberland County jail. The State has indicated that it does not know how long it will take for the results to come back. The State concedes that it already took one buccal swab of Johnson in this matter on January 19, 2017, and has additional DNA records for Johnson preserved in CODIS. The State, however, acknowledges that the lab submission paperwork submitted with the January 19, 2017, buccal swab incorrectly labeled the case as a "non-bail reform" (i.e., pre-Criminal Justice Reform Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:162-15 to -26) (hereinafter "CJRA") case. The result was that the buccal swab was not prioritized by the New Jersey State Police lab. The State notes that having uncovered the error, it has communicated with the lab the urgent need to prioritize submissions from this case.

         Finally, counsel for Johnson indicated that counsel has had difficulty accessing produced discovery on recorded disks, which has required ongoing efforts from the Prosecutor's Office to instruct counsel on accessing those files.

         The court previously ordered on June 9, 2017, that all discovery be completed by July 28, 2017. This order was given prior to other discovery requests by Johnson. A Wade/Henderson notice of motion was filed by Ukawabutu on June 5, 2017, and began a period of excludable time which did not end until August 11, 2017. This excludable time has been credited to Ukawabutu but not Johnson. On August 11, 2017, the court also ordered the State to complete its discovery obligations by August 18, 2017, and to submit a letter to the court if it could not meet that obligation. The State filed its initial brief for its motion for excludable time on August 15, 2017, in lieu of the requested letter.

         On August 18, 2017, the court entered an order vacating its previous excludable time order entered on June 23, 2017, due to Ukawabutu's withdrawal of his Wade/Henderson Motion. The court neglected, however, to enter an appropriate order to address the time during which the motion ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.