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State v. Leggett

July 25, 2008

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
MICHAEL T. LEGGETT A/K/A BRIAN ABERCROMBIE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Indictment No. 06-06-1165.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted December 5, 2007

Before Judges R. B. Coleman and Lyons.

Defendant Michael T. Leggett appeals from the denial of a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, primarily on the ground that the plea was not knowing and voluntary and on the further ground that the factual basis for the guilty plea was inadequate. We have carefully considered defendant's arguments in light of the facts and applicable law, and we affirm the order denying his motion to withdraw the plea.

The relevant factual and procedural history are as follows: defendant was charged in three counts of a six count indictment.*fn1

Those charges were second degree robbery, in that he did use force upon Garabed Sarkissian and/or did inflict bodily injury upon Garabed Sarkissian in the course of a theft, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (count one), fourth degree riot, N.J.S.A. 2C:33-1 (count three), and second degree witness tampering, N.J.S.A. 2C:28-5 (count six). On October 23, 2006, he agreed to enter a plea of guilty to count one, as amended from second degree robbery to third degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(7), and to count six second degree witness tampering, N.J.S.A. 2C:28-5a. The State agreed to dismiss count three, riot, and to recommend that the defendant receive youthful offender's status, receiving an indeterminate sentence not to exceed five years. Defendant was twenty-years-old at the time.

As a part of the plea colloquy, defendant admitted that on September 11, 2005, he punched the victim in the face and that victim fell to the floor. The victim was then kicked by a group of youths. While defendant denied being part of the group that kicked the victim, he acknowledged that following his punch and the kicks from others, the victim had difficulty breathing. According to the judgment of conviction, the court sentenced defendant as follows:

COUNT 6: 5 YEARS NJSP INDETERMINATE.

COUNT 1: 4 YEARS NJSP TO RUN CONCURRENT TO COUNT 6.

DEFENDANT IS BEING SENTENCED AS A YOUTHFUL OFFENDER.

COUNT 3 DISMISSED.

On appeal, defendant raises the following arguments:

POINT I: THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO VACATE THE PLEA. THE DEFENDANT/APPELLANT DID NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT HIS SENTENCE WAS, OR WHAT HE WAS BEING SENTENCED TO. THE PLEA FORM WAS IMPROPERLY ...


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