STATE OF NEW JERSEY VS. CARLOS VILLARREAL (19-05-0743, OCEAN COUNTY AND STATEWIDE)

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NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION This opinion shall not "constitute precedent or be binding upon any court ." Although it is posted on the internet, this opinion is binding only on the parties in the case and its use in other cases is limited. R. 1:36-3. SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION DOCKET NO. A-1197-20 STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. CARLOS VILLARREAL 1, Defendant-Respondent. _________________________ Argued May 24, 2021 – Decided July 12, 2021 Before Judges Currier and Gooden Brown. On appeal from an interlocutory order of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Ocean County, Indictment No. 19-05-0743. William Kyle Meighan, Supervising Assistant Prosecutor, argued the cause for appellant (Bradley D. Billhimer, Ocean County Prosecutor, attorney; Samuel Marzarella, Chief Appellate Attorney, of counsel; William Kyle Meighan, on the brief). 1 Defendant's name was incorrectly spelled on the Order on appeal as Villareal. Keith G. Oliver argued the cause for respondent (Law Offices of Proetta, Oliver & Fay, attorneys; Jeff Thakker, of counsel; Keith G. Oliver, on the brief). PER CURIAM By leave granted, the State appeals from the November 13, 2020 Law Division order granting defendant's motion to suppress evidence seized as the fruits of an unlawful interrogation conducted in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). We affirm. I. On May 15, 2019, defendant was charged in a nine-count indictment with two counts of second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a) (counts one and two); two counts of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b)(1) (counts three and four); fourth-degree possession of hollow nose bullets, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3(f) (count five); third-degree terroristic threats, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3(b) (count six); two counts of fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39- 3(e) and N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(d) (counts seven and eight, respectively); and second- degree endangering the welfare of a child, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a)(2) (count nine). The charges stemmed from the seizure of various weapons and ammunition from defendant's vehicle after he transported a friend and their A-1197-20 2 children from out-of-state to pick up the friend's minor daughter from the child's biological father pursuant to a custody agreement. Police were called to the scene of the custody exchange by the biological father, who reported that defendant had threatened to shoot him during a FaceTime call two days prior. Police later obtained a search warrant for defendant's vehicle after defendant disclosed during questioning at the scene that there were weapons inside the vehicle. During the entire encounter, police never gave defendant Miranda warnings and continued to question defendant notwithstanding his repeated invocation of his right to remain silent and his right to counsel. Pre-trial, defendant moved to suppress "all evidence seized" from his vehicle "on the grounds that it was the fruits of an unlawful interrogation, in violation of [Miranda.]" At a suppression hearing conducted on August 28, 2020, the State produced a single witness, Patrol Sergeant Ian 2 James, a ten-year veteran of the Lakehurst Township Police Department. The …

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