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State v. Lewis

Decided: February 24, 1988.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
JULIUS C. LEWIS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from the Superior Court, Law Division, Mercer County.

Petrella, Dreier and Ashbey. The opinion of the court was delivered by Ashbey, J.A.D.

Ashbey

[223 NJSuper Page 146] Defendant was charged with the purposeful or knowing murder of Leroy Palmer in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1) and (2); causing the death of Leroy Palmer in the course of committing arson in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(3); committing aggravated arson in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1a; six counts

of aggravated assault in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1), and second degree burglary in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2. He was tried to a jury and found guilty of first degree aggravated manslaughter, second degree aggravated arson, six counts of second degree aggravated assault and one count of second degree burglary. At sentencing defendant moved to merge the convictions for aggravated arson, aggravated assault and the burglary into the aggravated manslaughter conviction. The motion was denied, and defendant was sentenced for aggravated manslaughter to a term of 20 years with 10 years of parole ineligibility; for aggravated arson, 10 years with 5 years of parole ineligibility, to be served consecutively to the manslaughter conviction; for two counts of aggravated assault, to a term of 10 years with 5 years of parole ineligibility each, to be served consecutively to the manslaughter and the arson conviction and to each other; for four counts of aggravated assault, to a 10 year prison term, and for burglary, to a 10 year prison term. These latter sentences were to be served concurrently with each other and with the other sentences. Defendant's aggregate sentence was 50 years, 25 of which must be served before parole eligibility.

On appeal from the judgment of conviction defendant contends,

Point I

The death qualification of the guilt phase jury denied him his right to a fair and impartial jury.

Point II

The trial court erred in instructing the jury on the burden of proof in passion/provocation manslaughter.

Point III

The trial court committed plain error when instructing the jury that they must conclude that defendant was not guilty of the greater offenses before considering any lesser included offenses (not raised below).

Point IV

The trial court should have merged the burglary, aggravated assault and aggravated arson convictions with the ...


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