STATE OF NEW JERSEY VS. STERLING C. SPENCE STATE OF NEW JERSEY VS. MAURICE BURGESS (13-01-0083 AND 17-08-1760, ATLANTIC COUNTY AND STATEWIDE) (CONSOLIDATED)

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NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION This opinion shall not "constitute precedent or be binding upon any court ."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-3652-18T3 A-4134-18T3 STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. STERLING C. SPENCE, a/k/a STERLING SPENCE JR., Defendant-Appellant. __________________________ STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. MAURICE BURGESS, a/k/a MAURICE DE'ANDRE BURGESS, MAURICE BURGES, and MOE, Defendant-Appellant. __________________________ Submitted December 7, 2020 – Decided December 23, 2020 Before Judges Fasciale and Mayer. On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County, Indictment Nos. 13-01-0083 and 17-08-1760. Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant Sterling C. Spence (Michele A. Adubato, Designated Counsel, on the brief). Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant Maurice Burgess (Frank M. Gennaro, Designated Counsel, on the brief). Damon G. Tyner, Atlantic County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (John J. Lafferty, IV, Assistant Prosecutor, of counsel and on the brief). Appellant Sterling Spence filed a pro se supplemental brief. PER CURIAM In these back-to-back appeals, which we have consolidated for purposes of this opinion, Sterling Spence (Spence) and Maurice Burgess (Burgess) (collectively defendants) appeal from multiple convictions related to the murder of DeVonte Molley (the victim), which took place in the course of a robbery of the victim at an Atlantic City hotel (the Hotel). We affirm as to both defendants. On December 21, 2015, the victim, Burgess, and an acquaintance were staying in a room at the Hotel which was registered to the victim. The victim and Burgess sold heroin out of the room and occasionally left to facilitate sales. That night, A-3652-18T3 2 Burgess texted Charles Wynn1 (Wynn) to ask if he knew anyone who wanted to purchase heroin. Wynn called Spence to ask if he personally had any drugs to sell. Spence contacted Burgess, who told Spence to search the dresser in the Hotel room to retrieve more drugs to sell. Spence and Wynn entered the Hotel and went to the eighth-floor stairwell so that the manager would not see the them moving drugs and call the police. Burgess let them into the Hotel room and then left to sell drugs. The victim was asleep on the couch when Spence and Wynn entered. Wynn went into the bedroom to check the dresser drawer for drugs while Spence went to the bathroom. As Spence exited the bathroom, he saw the victim walking towards the bedroom with a gun. Spence called out to the victim to let him know that he and Wynn were in the Hotel room, and then the victim turned towards Spence and pointed the gun at him. Spence slapped the gun out of the victim's hand, resulting in both the victim and Spence struggling for control over the gun. The gun discharged while the victim and Spence were struggling for …

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