Defendant was charged with 3rd Degree Burglary in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2 and 3rd Degree Theft by Unlawful Taking in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3. Prior to his arrest, the Defendant worked at the Port Authority in Bayonne as a “Hustler” who would wait with cars and provide port personnel with paperwork for cars that were being shipped overseas. The criminal case was an identification case in which Defendant was accused of stealing a BMW Sedan from his workplace at the Port Authority in Bayonne in broad daylight by driving the car out of the front gate during the facility’s lunch hour. A groundskeeper saw the perpetrator driving the BMW off the lot and the security guard that works the front gate did not see the individual, but based on her recollection of who was working that day, she believed Defendant to be the perpetrator. The groundskeeper identified the suspect as a black male with dreadlocks and although there were several black males with dreadlocks who worked at the Port, all the same height and build, and at least one of which was also working at the time of the theft, the only one that was included in the photo-array was the Defendant. The groundskeeper identified the Defendant as the perpetrator in a photo-array administered by the Bayonne Police Department and stated that he was 100% certain that the Defendant was the person who stole the BMW. The photo-array occurred just after the theft. Based on the photo-array results and the security guards statement to police, they arrested and charged the Defendant within 24 hours of the crime’s occurrence. No other suspects were questioned and no further investigation occurred.
Charges: 3rd Degree Burglary – N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2
3rd Degree Theft by Unlawful Taking – N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3
Judge: Frederick J. Theemling, Jr., J.S.C.
Dispoition: NOT GUILTY. The case proceeded to jury trial and Defendant was acquitted. The trial was a 2-day trial, not including jury selection.
Motions Filed: WADE MOTION. The Judge found that the photo-array procedure was not impermissiibly suggestive under the AG Guidelines despite the issues noted above.