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Goodwyn v. New Jersey State Parole Board

November 17, 2008


On appeal from a Final Agency Decision of the New Jersey State Parole Board.

Per curiam.


Submitted October 15, 2008

Before Judges Fuentes and Gilroy.

Appellant Jesse Goodwyn appeals from the February 1, 2007 decision of the New Jersey State Parole Board (Board), denying him parole for the sixth time and establishing a 108-month Future Eligibility Term (FET). We affirm.

On July 19, 1976, appellant was confronted about a missing check by his sixty-four year old foster mother. After arguing with her, appellant struck his foster mother twice on the right side of her head, causing her to fall back and strike her head on the kitchen table. After appellant choked his foster mother and stabbed her in the throat with a kitchen knife, he fled the victim's home. Appellant next returned and cleaned the kitchen, removed two rings from his foster mother's hand, wrapped her body in cloth chair coverings, and placed the body in the trunk of the victim's car. After riding around for a short time, appellant disposed of his foster mother's body in a trash dumpster behind a Chinese restaurant in a nearby shopping center. On July 23, 1976, appellant was arrested. Between the date of the murder and his arrest, appellant unlawfully made two withdrawals from the victim's checking account as he had done prior to the murder. On the day following appellant's arrest, he confessed to the murder. Although the police conducted an extensive, six-day search of the landfill where the dumpster had been emptied, the victim's remains were never found.

Appellant was indicted for murder, N.J.S.A. 2A:113-1 and -2, now repealed and superseded by N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3. Tried to a jury, appellant was convicted of the charge. On January 10, 1977, appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment.

On December 10, 1990, August 30, 1994, April 18, 1996, and September 2, 1997, appellant was denied parole, with the Board panel establishing FETs of eighty-four months, thirty months, twenty-four months, and twenty-four months respectively. On May 27, 1998, appellant was transferred to a community release program or a halfway house. On August 9, 2000, appellant was arrested in West Windsor for possession of marijuana. After informing the police that he was an inmate participating in a community release program in Trenton, appellant was returned to State prison where he was charged and found guilty of disciplinary infraction *.204 (use of any prohibited substances such as drugs, intoxicants, or related paraphernalia not prescribed for the inmate by the medical or dental staff). On October 11, 2000, appellant was denied parole for the fifth time, with the Board panel establishing a 144-month FET.

On May 17, 2006, appellant became eligible for parole for the sixth time after serving approximately thirty years toward his sentence. On February 1, 2006, in anticipation of his parole hearing, appellant submitted to an in-depth psychological evaluation. On February 16, 2006, the initial hearing officer referred the matter to a two-member Board panel. On February 23, 2006, the two-member panel considered the matter, including an interview of appellant. The panel denied parole and referred the matter to a three-member Board panel to establish a FET.

The two-member panel based its decision on: 1) appellant's prior criminal record; 2) the nature of appellant's criminal record was increasingly becoming more serious; 3) appellant's prior opportunities on probation and parole failed to deter his criminal behavior; 4) appellant's prior incarceration(s) as a juvenile did not deter his criminal behavior; 5) appellant has a history of numerous institutional infractions with the last infraction occurring in 2000; 6) appellant's removal from the halfway house in 2000 led to disciplinary charges; 7) appellant's insufficient problem resolution, specifically a lack of insight into his criminal behavior and minimization of his conduct as demonstrated during the panel interview, and as documented in his case file and in the confidential material/professional report; 8) appellant's lack of an adequate parole plan to assist in successful reintegration into the community; 9) a risk assessment evaluation; and 10) appellant showing little remorse concerning the victim.

The panel also found as mitigating factors that appellant had participated in institutional programs, including those specific to behavior, and his average to above-average institutional reports. Lastly, the panel recommended that appellant consider participating in additional institutional programs geared toward criminal behavior, behavior modification counseling and one-to-one counseling.

On July 12, 2006, a three-member Board panel considered appellant's case and issued a single-spaced twenty-one page decision, establishing a 108-month FET. The panel based its decision on the factors determined by the two-member panel in denying parole. In reaching its decision, the panel stated:

SPECIFIC REASONS FOR THE IMPOSITION OF THE ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT (108) MONTH FUTURE PAROLE ELIGIBILITY TERM: In assessing an appropriate future parole eligibility term, the three-member Board panel may establish a future parole eligibility date, which differs from the presumptive schedule if the presumptive schedule is clearly inappropriate due to the inmate's lack of satisfactory progress in reducing the likelihood of future criminal behavior. In making the determination that the presumptive future parole eligibility term is clearly inappropriate, the three-member Board panel shall consider the factors enumerated in N.J.A.C. 10A:71-3.11. N.J.A.C. 10A:71-3.21(d).

The three-member Board panel is of the opinion that the factors supporting the denial of parole, collectively, are of such a serious nature as to warrant the setting of a future parole eligibility term, which differs from the ...

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