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State v. Richardson

March 18, 2008

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
JOSEPH RICHARDSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Indictment No. 97-10-1683.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted December 5, 2007

Before Judges Lisa and Simonelli.

Defendant Joseph Richardson appeals from an order denying his post conviction relief (PCR) petition. A jury convicted defendant of first degree robbery, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (count one); first degree attempted murder, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1 and N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3 (counts two and seven);*fn1 second degree aggravated assault, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1) (counts three, eight, twelve and fifteen); third degree aggravated assault with a weapon, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(2) (counts four, nine, thirteen and sixteen); third degree aggravated assault, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(7) (counts five and ten); and fourth degree aggravated assault by pointing a firearm, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(4) (counts six, eleven, eighteen and twenty-one); third degree criminal restraint, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:13-2 (count nineteen); third degree endangering the welfare of a child, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4a (count twenty); second degree possession of firearms for unlawful purposes, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a (count twenty-two); third degree unlawful possession of weapons (handguns), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b (count twenty-three); and fourth degree prohibited weapons and devices (defaced firearms), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3d (count twenty-four). Defendant was sentenced to an aggregate term of thirty-four years imprisonment with a seventeen-year period of parole ineligibility.

Defendant filed a direct appeal, which was heard on our Excessive Sentence Oral Argument Calendar. See R. 2:9-11. We affirmed and the Supreme Court denied defendant's petition for certification. State v. Richardson, 179 N.J. 369 (2003). Defendant then filed his PCR petition.

On appeal, defendant contends the trial judge erred in denying his petition, which was based upon ineffective assistance of counsel. Defendant argues his trial counsel was ineffective because he failed to subpoena witnesses and object to a "net opinion." We reject these contentions and affirm.

I.

The following facts are derived from the trial record.*fn2

Defendant planned to attend the University of Norfolk in Virginia in August 1997. Approximately one week before the incident at issue, defendant became stressed about attending college and leaving his girlfriend. To alleviate the stress, defendant drank two forty-ounce portions of Saint Ives malt liquor per day, smoked six to eight blunts*fn3 of marijuana per day, and fasted to "cleanse [his] system out," and "clear[] [his] mind up." Defendant did not sleep for four to five days before the incident, stayed awake reading the Bible and Leviathan, both of which were "telling [him] things[,]" and believed the world was going to end. Defendant also traveled to Harlem to purchase a loaded gun for protection at college.

On June 28, 1997, Nicky Bernal, his wife, their children, and about thirty other people attended a birthday party in the backyard of 173 Liberty Street in Englewood. Between 4:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., Bernal was in the backyard playing with one of his children when he saw a "dark young man," whom he later identified as defendant, enter the driveway "almost like halfway," and stand next to a parked car. Defendant appeared to be "spraying the garden" plants in the driveway, and stood by a fence for fifteen to twenty minutes. Defendant claimed he heard voices in his head telling him that the party guests were Colombian drug lords doing some type of deal, and that he should go into the yard to "see what was going on." He eventually entered the yard, aimed a gun at Bernal, announced this was a "holdup," and screamed to "let [him] see the money" or else he was going to kill Bernal, who was two feet away.

After once again demanding money, defendant aimed the gun at Bernal and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not fire.*fn4

Defendant then pointed the gun at the other guests, stating, "I want money, I want money, give me money." As to what happened next, Bernal testified as follows:

So then he got close to me, and he grabbed [Bernal's child] by her hair, and hauled her to him. And she groaned and he put the revolver to ...


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