[See UPDATE below]
By JOHN T. WARD
Sims, 32 years old, was wrongly convicted in part based on statements he gave to detectives without having been told why he was under arrest, the three-judge panel found.
Additionally, because the victim of the Willow Street shooting did not testify at trial, but his statements to police were used, Sims was denied his constitutional right to confront his accuser, the court found.
Sims, a former Red Bank resident, is seen at right in a New Jersey Department of Corrections photo from 2019. He remains behind bars, and was represented in the appeal by public defender Joseph Krakora.
In August, 2017, Sims was convicted of shooting Perry Veney of Long Branch as he sat behind the wheel of a car parked in his grandmother’s driveway at 13 Willow Street in April, 2014.
Prosecutors said Veney was struck by 12 bullets; after several surgeries, he was released from a hospital three weeks later.
Sims previously did time for shooting two brothers in the borough 2007, and was out of prison for just two months before he was charged in the Veney attack.
Veney refused to testify at Sims’s trial, but Superior Court Judge Thomas F. Scully allowed police to read from a statement Veney had given to detectives while he was in the hospital.
The jury in the case was not informed that Veney was then in jail and awaiting trial for killing Sims’ brother, Rasheem Palmer, in Eatontown.
Sims was found guilty of attempted murder and other charges. His lawyer asked for a new trial, claiming Veney’s “out-of-court identification testimony violated defendant’s right to confront witnesses,” according to the appellate opinion, which agreed.
“Without being correctly informed of the crime for which he was arrested, a defendant cannot knowingly and intelligently waive his right against self-incrimination,” the panel found.
The appellate judges also found violations of Sims’ Miranda rights during the investigation.
“Not only did the interrogating officers not tell defendant the charges for which he was arrested,” the ruling said, “but they admitted to intentionally misleading defendant by advising him he was arrested for assault—a much lesser offense than attempted murder.”
“Because defendant did not know that he was under arrest for attempted murder when he waived his rights, the [Miranda] waiver was not made knowingly and intelligently,” it continued.
After the conviction, Scully sentenced Sims to 50 years in state prison, imposing an extended term as a result of his prior record. The appellate panel did not opine on the claim in Sims’ appeal that the sentence was excessive.
Asked to comment, prosecutor’s spokesman Charles Webster issued the following statement Tuesday:
We are reviewing the court’s decision at this time. However, we believe there are factual inaccuracies underlying the court’s decision. We welcome the opportunity to clarify the record in our forthcoming appeal.
The outcome of the murder case against Veney was not immediately available. [UPDATE: Webster said “the trial is on hold until the courts reopen.” The Monmouth County Correctional Facility website shows Veney has been held there since December, 2016.]
Here’s the full opinion, written by Judge Garry S. Rothstadt.
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