Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Gloucester
Decided: September 27, 2017
Michael Mellon, Assistant Prosecutor, attorney for plaintiff
(Sean F. Dalton, Gloucester County Prosecutor, attorney).
J. Crisonino, attorney for defendant Ukawabutu.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
January 25, 2017, Johnson was ordered detained pretrial.
Ukawabutu was detained pretrial by order dated February 16,
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).
9, 2017, an arraignment hearing was held for Johnson.
Discovery was ordered to be complete by July 28, 2017.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ...