State v. Williams, 110220 NJSC, A-40-19

Docket NºA-40-19
Opinion JudgePER CURIAM.
Party NameState of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Louis V. Williams, Defendant-Respondent.
AttorneyValeria Dominguez, Deputy Attorney General, argued the cause for appellant (Gurbir S. Grewal, Attorney General, attorney; Valeria Dominguez, of counsel and on the briefs). Michele E. Friedman, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for respondent (Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, a...
Judge PanelPER CURIAM. CHIEF JUSTICE RABNER and JUSTICES LaVECCHIA, ALBIN, PATTERSON, SOLOMON, and PIERRE-LOUIS join in this opinion. JUSTICE FERNANDEZ-VINA did not participate. CHIEF JUSTICE RABNER and JUSTICES LaVECCHIA, ALBIN, PATTERSON, SOLOMON, and PIERRE-LOUIS join in this opinion. JUSTICE FERNANDEZ-V...
Case DateNovember 02, 2020
CourtSupreme Court of New Jersey

State of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

Louis V. Williams, Defendant-Respondent.

No. A-40-19

Supreme Court of New Jersey

November 2, 2020

Argued October 14, 2020

On certification to the Superior Court, Appellate Division, whose opinion is reported at 461 N.J.Super. 1 (App. Div. 2019).

Valeria Dominguez, Deputy Attorney General, argued the cause for appellant (Gurbir S. Grewal, Attorney General, attorney; Valeria Dominguez, of counsel and on the briefs).

Michele E. Friedman, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for respondent (Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney; Michele E. Friedman, of counsel and on the briefs).

Alexander Shalom argued the cause for amicus curiae American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey Foundation, attorneys; Alexander Shalom, Ky'Eisha Penn, Karen Thompson, and Jeanne LoCicero, on the brief).

Nicholas C. Harbist argued the cause for amicus curiae Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey (Blank Rome, attorneys; Nicholas C. Harbist, on the brief).

PER CURIAM.

The Court considers the Appellate Division's determination that evidence seized from defendant Louis V. Williams's home should have been suppressed.

Detective Estevez of the New Jersey State Police testified at a suppression hearing that, on March 19, 2016, he heard gunshots from a nearby neighborhood while in his office in Trenton. Dispatch reports indicated that the gunshots were fired at a nearby bar and that the suspected shooter was a Black male named "Louis" who had fled to, and lived at, a dwelling on Spring Street.

Estevez and Sergeant Sansone drove to the Spring Street dwelling, where they met a Trenton Police Department officer outside. Estevez testified that the structure appeared to be an attached row home; he was unsure whether it was a single-family home, a multi-family home, or a boarding house. According to Estevez, the front door was equipped with a lock but was unlocked at that time and swung open when he knocked on it.

The officers entered what Estevez described as a long hallway with a stairway leading to the second floor directly in front of him. Estevez noticed multiple doors to his left, all of which had padlocks on them, which led him to believe the building was being used as "a boarding house because usually boarding houses are multi-apartment dwellings." The officers then searched the common areas for weapons and the suspect. Estevez and Sansone then left the building and returned to their vehicle to search the surrounding area. They received a police dispatch report indicating that a crime scene was established at the bar; Estevez testified that he thus believed he was involved in an "active shooting" investigation.

Estevez and Sansone returned to Spring Street and re-entered the dwelling. Estevez proceeded to knock on two interior doors, one on the first floor and one on the...

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