STATE OF NEW JERSEY VS. RAELITO PALAO (14-03-0185, PASSAIC COUNTY…

<p>RECORD IMPOUNDED NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION This opinion shall not &quot;constitute precedent or be binding upon any court.&quot; Although it is posted on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-4422-16T4 STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. RAELITO PALAO, a/k/a RAEL PALAO, Defendant-Appellant. __________________________ Argued January 23, 2020 – Decided October 27, 2020 Before Judges Fuentes, Mayer, and Enright. On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Passaic County, Indictment No. 14-03-0185. Rochelle Watson, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant (Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney; Rochelle Watson, of counsel and on the briefs). Ali Y. Ozbek, Assistant Prosecutor, argued the cause for respondent (Camelia M. Valdes, Passaic County Prosecutor, attorney; Robert J. Wisse, of counsel and on the brief). The opinion of the court was delivered by FUENTES, P.J.A.D. A Passaic County Grand Jury returned a six-count indictment charging defendant Raelito Palao with second degree sexual assault of A.E. (Abigail), a child under the age of thirteen, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2b (Count 1); third degree endangering the welfare of a child - Abigail and V.M. (Valerie), N.J.S.A. 2C:24- 4a, (Counts 2 and 6); fourth degree criminal sexual contact of K.D. (Kenzie) and Valerie, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3b, (Counts 3 and 5); and second degree endangering the welfare of a child - Kenzie, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4a (Count 4).1 Defendant was tried before a jury over four days. The jury found defendant guilty of all the charges listed in the indictment. At the sentencing hearing, the trial judge merged Counts 1 with Count 2 and sentenced defendant to a term of seven years, subject to an eighty-five percent period of parole ineligibility and three years of parole supervision, as mandated by the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. On the two convictions for third degree endangering the welfare of a child, the judge sentenced defendant to a term of five years, to run consecutive to the sentenced imposed on Count 1. The 1 Pursuant to Rule 1:38-3(c)(12), the three children allegedly sexually molested by defendant are identified only by their initials. The names following their initials are pseudonyms used here in the interest of clarity. A-4422-16T4 2 judge also merged Count 5 with Count 6 and sentenced defendant to a term of three years, to run concurrent with Count 4, but consecutive to Count 1. In this appeal, defendant argues he was denied a fair trial because the trial judge: (1) denied his motion to sever the charges involved in the three separate alleged incidents with three different victims; (2) granted the State's motion to admit prejudicial evidence under N.J.R.E. 404(b); (3) allowed the State to call an expert witness to testify and opine on the reasons why the children did not disclose the alleged sexual molestation sooner based on the now discredited Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome ...</p><br>
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