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State v. Chisolm

April 7, 2009

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
PAUL CHISOLM, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, 96-09-1114.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted March 17, 2009

Before Judges Winkelstein and Fuentes.

Defendant, Paul Chisolm, appeals from Judge Malone's March 30, 2007 order denying defendant's petition for post-conviction relief. We affirm.

On September 18, 1996, a Union County Grand Jury indicted defendant, charging him with the following offenses: two counts of first-degree knowing or purposeful murder (counts one and two); first-degree kidnapping (count five); two counts of first-degree felony murder (counts six and seven); third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose (count ten); and fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon (count eleven).

Defendant was tried before Judge Malone and a jury from October 19, 2000 to November 2, 2000.*fn1 At the close of the State's case, the judge denied defendant's motion for judgments of acquittal on both felony murder counts and the kidnapping count. The jury convicted defendant of reckless manslaughter of Peter Sizemore, as a lesser-included offense of count one; aggravated manslaughter of Cathy Brown, as a lesser-included offense of count two; kidnapping, count five; both counts of felony murder, counts six and seven; and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, count ten.

Judge Malone subsequently granted defendant's motion to vacate the conviction on count ten, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and denied his motion for a new trial on the felony murder and kidnapping convictions. The judge merged defendant's reckless manslaughter conviction with his count siX felony murder conviction, and his aggravated manslaughter conviction with his count seven felony murder conviction. For the convictions on counts six and seven, first-degree felony murder, Judge Malone sentenced defendant to two consecutive life terms, each with a mandatory thirty-year period of parole ineligibility. The judge sentenced defendant to a concurrent thirty-year prison term, with fifteen years of parole ineligibility, for his conviction on count five, first-degree kidnapping. Thus, defendant received an aggregate life sentence with thirty years of parole ineligibility.

In his direct appeal to this court, defendant raised the following issues:

POINT I - THE TRIAL JUDGE ERRED IN DENYING THE MOTION TO DISMISS THE COUNTS OF THE INDICTMENT CHARGING KIDNAPPING AND FELONY MURDER.

POINT II - THE COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION [FOR] A NEW TRIAL BASED UPON THE LACK OF SUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE TO DISMISS THE KIDNAPPING AND FELONY MURDER COUNTS OF THE INDICTMENT.

POINT III - THE COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING EVIDENCE OF THE DEFENDANT'S OTHER CRIMES AND/OR BAD ACTS TOWARD THE DECEDENT PETER SIZEMORE.

POINT IV - THE COURT ERRED IN EXCLUDING THE STATEMENT OF KEISHA HOWELL WHICH STATED THAT IF THE DEFENDANT WOULD HAVE BEEN PRESENT THESE CRIMES WOULD NOT HAVE OCCURRED.

POINT V - UNDER THE TEST DEVELOPED IN STRICKLAND/FRITZ THE DEFENDANT WAS DENIED THE ...


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