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State v. Lord

January 14, 2008

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
TAURUS LORD, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County, Indictment No. 00-06-1112.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 9, 2007

Before Judges Parrillo and Alvarez.

Defendant, Taurus Lord, appeals from a November 10, 2005 order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) and his request for an evidentiary hearing. We affirm.

Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted of armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1; possession of a handgun without a permit, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b); possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a); conspiracy to commit armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 and 2C:5-2; and receiving stolen property, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7. Defendant was sentenced to thirteen years imprisonment subject to the 85% parole disqualifier on the armed robbery count, as well as a concurrent six-year sentence subject to three years parole ineligibility for the firearms possession count, into which the handgun count was merged. The conspiracy and stolen property offenses were merged into the armed robbery conviction. Defendant's convictions were affirmed on direct appeal. State v. Lord, No. A-2477-01 (App. Div. July 3, 2003). His petition for certification was denied. State v. Lord, 178 N.J. 33 (2003).

At trial, Travis Pittman testified that on December 21, 1999, he was leaving a shopping mall when a "bluish-grayish" van covered in compound paint approached him from the opposite direction. A man wearing a bandanna over his face jumped out of the van and pointed a handgun at Pittman. He was told to lie down and directed by his assailant to hand over his coat and money. The assailant then walked away. When Pittman stood up and looked behind him, both the van and the man were gone.

Minutes later, while discussing the incident with friends, Pittman saw the van driving down the street. He flagged down a passing police car, reported the robbery, and described the vehicle and the perpetrator. Several officers responded and the van was quickly located. When the vehicle was stopped, the driver attempted to get out and was ordered to remain seated. Meanwhile, defendant, who was the passenger, jumped out and fled on foot. While several officers gave chase, others searched the vehicle. They found Pittman's wallet, his coat, and several hats. During the chase, defendant was seen discarding a handgun which was promptly recovered. Pittman identified defendant at the station based on a blue bandanna which was around his neck at the time of the arrest, as well as "something" about his shoes.

On PCR, defendant contended, among other things, that his trial attorney's failure to effectively pursue a motion to suppress evidence which had been filed on his behalf constituted ineffective assistance of counsel, that the jury instruction as to accomplice liability was fatally flawed, and that his sentence was excessive due to the disparity with the co-defendant's sentence. The PCR judge found that the issues either could have been addressed on direct appeal, were addressed on direct appeal, or, even when the facts were considered in the light most favorable to defendant, no prima facie claim warranting an evidentiary hearing was established. See State v. Preciose, 129 N.J. 451, 462-63 (1992).

Defendant raises the following points on appeal from the PCR denial:

POINT I

MR. LORD WAS DEPRIVED EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF TRIAL COUNSEL.

(A) TRIAL COUNSEL FAILED TO PROSECUTE MR. LORD'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE.

(B) TRIAL COUNSEL FAILED TO MEET WITH MR. LORD IN A MEANINGFUL CONFIDENTIAL SETTING.

(C) TRIAL COUNSEL FAILED TO OBJECT TO THE ACCOMPLICE LIABILITY JURY ...


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