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State v. Hammond

July 24, 2008

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
EARL MICHAEL HAMMOND, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, No. 96-02-280.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted April 23, 2008

Before Judges Wefing and Parker.

Defendant appeals from a trial court order denying his petition for post-conviction relief ("PCR"). After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we affirm.

A jury found defendant guilty of murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(1), (2), a crime of the first degree; two counts of possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a), a crime of the second degree; robbery while armed, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1, a crime of the first degree; and two counts of aggravated assault, pointing a firearm, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(4), a crime of the fourth degree. At sentencing, the trial court merged the weapons offenses into the convictions for murder and robbery. It also merged one of the aggravated assault convictions into the robbery conviction. It sentenced defendant to thirty years in prison for murder, with a thirty-year period of parole ineligibility. In addition, it sentenced defendant to a consecutive fifteen-year term, together with a five-year period of parole ineligibility pursuant to the Graves Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(c), for armed robbery. Finally, it imposed a concurrent eighteen-month sentence for the remaining aggravated assault conviction. The events having occurred prior to the adoption of N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2 (No Early Release Act), defendant was not subject to its eighty-five percent parole disqualifier. Defendant's aggregate sentence was forty-years in prison, with a thirty-five year period of parole ineligibility.

Defendant appealed his convictions and sentence, and we affirmed. State v. Hammond, 338 N.J. Super. 330 (App. Div. 2001). The Supreme Court thereafter denied certification. 169 N.J. 609 (2001). Defendant filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief. Defendant now appeals from the trial court's order denying his petition.

In our opinion affirming defendant's conviction, we briefly summarized the State's case.

Defendant allegedly committed an armed robbery of Glen (Goon Goon) Edward, John (Dash) Robinson, and Robert (Bashie) Etienne in July 1995. Three days after the robbery, the victims[,] together with others[,] allegedly attacked defendant in retaliation for the robbery. Badly beaten in the attack, defendant was hospitalized for about six weeks. The State's theory was that after defendant's release from the hospital, he killed "Frankie" Paul Robinson in retaliation for the assault by shooting him numerous times, late at night or in the early morning of September 14-15, although Robinson apparently had no involvement in the assault. [338 N.J. Super. at 332-33.]

At defendant's trial, the State produced two witnesses, Skylyn Hagins and Gregory Ingram, who testified they saw defendant shoot the victim, and another witness, Jermaine Ingram, who testified that he had seen defendant leading the victim toward the alley where the shooting occurred and then heard a number of shots being fired. All three men had initially denied any knowledge of the event. The State also presented the testimony of John "Dash" Robinson to establish the events leading up to the fatal shooting. Although John Robinson and "Frankie" Paul Robinson shared their last name and had a close relationship, they were not related by blood. Defendant did not testify.

On appeal, defendant raises the following arguments:

POINT I

THE COURT ERRED IN DENYING POST-CONVICTION RELIEF BECAUSE THE DEFENDANT DID NOT RECEIVE EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF ...


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