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State v. Saunders

December 17, 2008

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
DAVID SAUNDERS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cumberland County, Indictment No. 99-06-0434.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted: October 22, 2008

Before Judges Lihotz and Messano.

Defendant appeals from a Law Division order denying his post-conviction relief (PCR) petition. Defendant and co-defendant Eric Ross were indicted on charges related to the armed robbery of the J&J News Agency (J&J) in Vineland.

Following a three-day jury trial, defendant was convicted of first-degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1(a)(1) and (2) (count one) and second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a) (count two). The State dismissed the third count of the original indictment. On July 14, 2000, after merger, defendant was sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment with an 85% parole bar, pursuant to the No-Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, and a five year period of parole supervision. Appropriate fees and penalties were also imposed.

Defendant's conviction and sentence were affirmed in an unpublished opinion, No. A-0958-00T4 (App. Div. April 1, 2002), and the Supreme Court denied certification on November 6, 2002, State v. Saunders, 175 N.J. 76 (2002).

Defendant filed a PCR petition, alleging counsel was ineffective and his sentence was excessive.*fn1 Finding no support for defendant's claims, the PCR judge rendered a comprehensive bench decision set forth over twenty pages in the transcript, denying defendant's request for an evidentiary hearing along with his requests for relief.

Defendant raises these points on appeal:

POINT I

DEFENDANT WAS DENIED EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF APPELLATE COUNSEL AND PCR COUNSEL BECAUSE THE ATTORNEYS FAILED TO RAISE THE FOLLOWING ISSUES AND REQUESTS THAT THIS COURT CONSIDER THESE ISSUES IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE.

(A) THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE ADMISSION OF DEFENSIVE "OTHER CRIMES" EVIDENCE.

(B) THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT PROPERLY INSTRUCTING THE JURY REGARDING THE OUT-OF-COURT STATEMENTS BY DESIREE FLOYD AND ERIC ROSS (Not Raised Below).

(C) DEFENDANT'S STATEMENT TO THE POLICE WAS NOT VOLUNTARY AND VIOLATED HIS FIFTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS.

POINT II

DEFENDANT WAS NOT PROCEDURALLY BARRED UNDER RULE 3:22-4 FROM RAISING THE ARGUMENT THAT HIS TRIAL COUNSEL WAS INEFFECTIVE.

POINT III

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING DEFENDANT A HEARING BECAUSE A PRIMA FACIE CASE EXISTED THAT DEFENDANT WOULD ULTIMATELY SUCCEED ON THE MERITS ...


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