Defendant Wendis Adames appealed his conviction for the
first-degree murder of his father. The issue at trial was not
whether Adames killed his father, but whether he was legally
responsible for doing so based upon his alleged mental illness.
See N.J.S.A. 2C:4-1. For that reason, the outcome of the trial
turned largely on the jury's evaluation of expert testimony
concerning his mental health at the time of the homicide. We
concluded that the prosecutor improperly commented on Adames's
demeanor in the courtroom during the cross-examination of one of
his mental-health expert witnesses and again during summation.
See State v. Rivera, 253 N.J. Super. 598, 604-05 (App. Div.),
certif. denied, 130 N.J. 12 (1992). Some of her comments
involved an incident that took place outside of the presence of
the jury and, therefore, constituted improper factual assertions
by the prosecutor. See State v. Farrell, 61 N.J. 99, 102-03
(1972). We reversed and remanded for a new trial.
Chase Smith assistant editor