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Staet v. Szemple

June 22, 2000

STATE OF NEW JERSEY,
PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
V.
CRAIG SZEMPLE,
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Before Judges Stern, Kestin and Wefing.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stern, P.J.A.D.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued May 17, 2000

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Warren County.

After defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment on speedy trial grounds was denied, defendant entered a negotiated plea of guilty to the amended charge of aggravated manslaughter, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4a, as a lesser-included offense to capital murder as alleged in count two of the indictment; to theft by deception, as alleged in counts thirteen and seventeen; and to attempted theft by deception, as alleged in count twenty-one. According to the negotiated plea form:

Defendant retains right to appeal issue that indictment should be dismissed based on denial of speedy trial motion [and] incompetency of prior retained counsel for failing to move for speedy trial prior to Morris and Hudson County murder trials.

That provision was detailed in a letter written by the prosecutor on the day of the plea, supplementing a prior letter detailing the offer. That letter stated:

The defendant pursuant to R. 3:9-3(f) will reserve the right to appeal from so much of the Court's order of November 10, 1997, as denied his motion to dismiss the indictment upon the legal and factual bases set fourth [sic] in Point I of the defendant's letter brief of September 25, 1997, as well as from any denial of reconsideration of that motion by the trial court on January 9, 1998. The alleged failure of George Daggett, Esq. to move for a speedy trial prior to trial of defendant's two non-capital murder charges is included within this speedy trial issue. This speedy trial argument is confined to the time of Mr. Daggett's representation of defendant. It is stipulated that present counsel are fully prepared to proceed with trial.

Confirming the contents of the plea form and colloquy with counsel, the trial judge developed the negotiated plea and sentence as follows:

THE COURT: The State has made a recommendation as to your sentence here and that recommendation is as follows and I read up from Paragraph 13 of the plea agreement.

"The sentence would be a life sentence with 25 years of parole ineligibility on Count 2, which would run consecutively to the sentence which you are presently serving for the Morris [C]county murder conviction and concurrent to the sentence you are serving for the Hudson [C]county murder conviction. The sentence on Counts 13, 17, and 21 would run concurrent to the sentence on Count 2."

That's what the plea agreement says. Do you understand that language?

THE DEFENDANT: Can I get a minute with counsel, Your Honor?

(Defendant confers with counsel)

THE DEFENDANT: I understand, ...


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