On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment Nos. 00-08-2147, 00-08-2148 and 00-08-2149.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued September 17, 2008
Before Judges Stern, Rodríguez and Payne.
Defendant appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) embodied in an order of February 22, 2007. We affirm the order.
On December 18, 2000 defendant entered a negotiated plea to charges in multiple indictments, including two counts of murder, in exchange for dismissal of other charges and a recommended sentence of thirty years imprisonment, with thirty years to be served before parole eligibility. The plea was conditioned upon defendant's cooperation in testifying against co-defendants.*fn1
The negotiated plea permitted the imposition of consecutive life sentences if there was no cooperation. At the time of the plea, it was detailed that defendant "agreed to testify truthfully against all co-defendants," defendants Jamillah Bearfield and Jovar Persha on indictment 00-08-2149, and Persha, Norman James and Clifford McAdams on indictment 00-08-2147. The prosecutor explained:
Defendant is to give a truthful and factual basis under oath. This recommendation of 30 years with 30-year parole ineligibility period is based upon defendant's agreement to testify truthfully against all co-defendants, as stated earlier. If the defendant for some reason does not testify in accordance with this plea agreement this offer, this plea agreement will become null and ― null and void and the defendant will be sentenced to two consecutive life terms.
Both the plea form and defense counsel's statements at the plea hearing stated the recommendation similarly. Defendant acknowledged his understanding of the negotiated disposition:
Q If they go to trial and you do not testify in those matters, or you testify to something different than what you say today when you talk about the co-defendants, then the 30 years, all of what must be served before you are subject to parole, then becomes two life terms running consecutive to each other, and that for each you will face 30 years before you are eligible for parole, which means you must serve at least 60 years in a State's prison. Is that your understanding of the plea agreement, sir?
Defendant admitted his involvement, and described the roles of his co-defendants, in the shootings of Clarence Clark and Dwayne Charity. He also stated that he understood the practical consequences of his plea.
Immediately following the entry of defendant's guilty pleas, the State and defendant sought defendant's transfer to the Somerset County Jail to avoid the "danger of death or serious body injury if he remains housed in Essex County Jail." ...