On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County, Indictment No. 1141-06-95.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Cuff and Baxter.
Ramon Hernandez appeals from the denial of his pro se motion to correct an illegal sentence. Relying on State v. Pierce, 188 N.J. 155 (2006), he argues that the discretionary extended term sentence imposed by the trial court on June 24, 1997, is illegal because it violates the principles articulated in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 120 S.Ct. 2348, 147 L.Ed. 2d 435 (2000) and Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296, 124 S.Ct. 2531, 159 L.Ed. 2d 403 (2004). He further argues that because he "raised a Blakely-like issue on direct appeal," the pipeline retroactivity standard articulated in State v. Natale, 184 N.J. 458 (2005), is satisfied. We disagree and affirm.
On June 24, 1997, defendant was sentenced to a thirty-year term of imprisonment, with a fifteen-year period of parole ineligibility after a jury found him guilty of one count of attempted murder, four counts of aggravated assault and two counts of possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. At the time of sentencing, all counts were merged into the attempted murder count. The thirty-year term of imprisonment for attempted murder was based upon the court's finding that defendant qualified as a persistent offender, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:44-3a and State v. Dunbar, 108 N.J. 80, 90-91 (1987).
Defendant filed a notice of appeal on April 15, 1997, in which he raised the following issues:
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN PRECLUDING THE DEFENSE FROM ELICITING A PRIOR CONVICTION OF AN IMPORTANT STATE'S WITNESS TO IMPEACH HIS CREDIBILITY.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT THE DEFENDANT'S PRIOR CONVICTIONS WERE ADMISSIBLE TO ATTACK CREDIBILITY.
THE SENTENCE IMPOSED WAS MANIFESTLY ...