On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cumberland County, Indictment No. 01-10-0918.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 18, 2007
Before Judges Skillman and Yannotti.
Defendant was indicted together with Eric Matthews and another co-defendant for armed robbery, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1a(1), and other offenses. Defendant entered into a plea agreement with the State, one of the key terms of which was that he would testify against Matthews in exchange for a lesser sentence. The plea form signed by defendant states:
Sentence in discretion of Court. The Prosecutor has represented that if defendant cooperates and testifies truthfully at the trial of [co-defendant] Eric Matthews, she will not seek [an] extended term and will seek a sentence as a 2d degree offender. If defendant fails to cooperate, the prosecutor reserves the right to seek the maximum possible sentence and will file a motion for an extended term.
When defendant entered his plea agreement on the record, the trial court reiterated the terms of the plea agreement:
THE COURT: So the State, as part of this plea today, if you testify truthfully against Mr. Eric Matthews, they will not seek an extended term. But if you do not testify truthfully, they will seek an extended term. Or, in the alternative, they're going to ask for 20 years, must do 85 percent, which is the maximum that you can get under the first-degree conviction. Do you understand that, sir?
THE COURT: Any questions about that?
The judge asked defendant whether he had sufficient time to discuss the plea with his attorney, and defendant said that he had.
The Court then again went through the terms of the plea agreement and asked defendant to explain them in his own words. Defendant responded by explaining each term of the agreement including his obligations under the agreement, the minimum and maximum sentences, and the penalties he faced for not cooperating:
[DEFENDANT]: My understanding is I'm pleading guilty to first-degree robbery for a crime that I ...