Goldmann, Kilkenny and Lewis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Kilkenny, J.A.D.
On this appeal defendant challenges the validity of resentences imposed for armed robberies.
On November 17, 1952 defendant, represented by assigned counsel, pleaded non vult in the Somerset County Court to five indictments, each of which charged him with armed robbery, in violation of N.J.S. 2A:141-1 and 2A:151-5. He also pleaded non vult on November 25, 1952 to an accusation filed pursuant to N.J.S. 2A:85-13, charging him with being an "habitual criminal," by reason of his new conviction under
the five indictments consolidated for trial and prior convictions of high misdemeanors of the requisite number. On December 9, 1952 a sentence of life imprisonment, made mandatory under N.J.S. 2A:85-12, was imposed. No separate sentences were imposed for the five 1952 charges of armed robbery.
On January 6, 1965, more than 12 years later, and while confined in State Prison under his life sentence, defendant succeeded in having two of his prior high misdemeanor convictions, entered in 1938 on non vult pleas, set aside by a judge in the Union County Court, upon the ground that he had not been represented by an attorney at the time of those convictions in Union County. The validity of that ruling is not presently before us. However, its effect was to knock out the underpinning upon which his life sentence as an habitual offender was based.
In 1965 defendant petitioned the Somerset County Court, pursuant to the post-conviction procedure, R.R. 3:10A, to set aside his life sentence as an habitual criminal, relying upon the vacation of the two high misdemeanor convictions by the Union County Court. The validity of his claim was recognized and the life sentence vacated. Thereupon, the Somerset County Court resentenced defendant on September 17, 1965, imposing a term of five to seven years in State Prison for each of the robberies charged in the five 1952 indictments and an additional one to two years for committing the robberies while "armed," N.J.S. 2A:151-5. The sentences for being armed were made concurrent with the respective sentences for the robberies, but the five robbery sentences were made to run consecutively. The net result of the resentence was to substitute for the single sentence of life imprisonment five consecutive sentences which added up to 25 to 35 years.
Defendant argues that the resentencing court was in error in imposing five consecutive sentences on the five indictments
in the light of the earlier proceedings and the original trial court's sentence. He reasons that the trial court originally intended only a single sentence on the five charges, or at least only concurrent sentences, because the five indictments stemmed from a single felonious act committed at the same time and place, and under the same circumstances, even though there were several victims of this common armed robbery.
Defendant, admittedly, entered premises occupied by Seaboard Finance Company in the Borough of Bound Brook, Somerset County, on July 25, 1952 and then and there, while armed with a loaded pistol, forcibly and by putting in fear took (1) from Edward Boyle, $550.25, the property of Seaboard Finance Company; (2) from Malcolm Jorgensen, $31; (3) from Edward Boyle, the same person mentioned in (1) supra, a wristwatch of the value of $60; (4) from Dorothy Poklitar, a diamond ring of the value of $329.40, and (5) from Marjorie Parnell, $238.
The original 1952 life sentence lost all vitality when defendant was successful in causing its vacation in his post-conviction proceeding under R.R. 3:10A. That rule required a correction of the invalid sentence. R.R. 3:10A-12. We may not speculate what the original sentencing judge might have done if the mandatory life sentence had not been imposed. When that sentence fell, the duty of the resentencing judge was to sentence defendant anew. State v. Minter, 55 N.J. Super. 562 (App. Div. 1959). Any "attempt to divide the original sentence into two parts, one valid and the other invalid, smacks of the metaphysical." Id., at p. 567. ...