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NJ Robbery and CarJacking Convictions Reversed on Appeal

21
Jan
2011

by in Criminal Defense

State v. Stack Williams, unpublished opinion, App. Div. Docket No. A-3648-07T4 (December 17, 2010) – Convictions reversed.

“At the conclusion of a jury trial involving charges contained in different indictments, defendant was convicted of two separate groups of offenses that were committed months apart and in different locations — a December 2005 robbery in Newark and a February 2006 carjacking in East Orange. In appealing his convictions, defendant argues primarily that the judge erred by joining the separate indictments and having one trial…. The robbery and carjacking are not ‘of the same or similar character or are based on the same act or transaction,’ and they are not part of a continuing scheme or plan. In the robbery, defendant wore a mask, went into an office building, and stole a purse from one victim. Two months later, in a different location, defendant did not wear a mask and drove away in the victim’s car. While a handgun was used in both crimes, there was nothing else connecting the two. The fact that A.R.’s belongings were found in defendant’s apartment does not mean that the robbery and carjacking were similar, based on the same act, or part of a continuing scheme and did not establish any of the elements to the crimes charged in the carjacking case. There is no common thread that binds the two incidents together. Furthermore, a real ‘possibility of prejudice’ to defendant accrued when both cases were tried together…. Despite her initial inability to identify defendant, A.R. identified him. Even though A.R.’s identification of defendant was arguably questionable, the jury may have concluded defendant robbed A.R. because they heard detailed evidence of other crimes from the second incident. If the cases were tried separately, and the jury rejected A.R.’s identification of defendant, then he would be acquitted of robbery but convicted potentially of the lesser included offense of receiving stolen property. Defendant was therefore prejudiced.”

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