On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment No. 98-05-2458.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Rodríguez and Lyons.
Defendant, Terrance Bradley, appeals from the denial of a petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.
On November 24, 1997, when defendant was fifteen-years-old, he shot Kareem Jahid Lawrence. The day before the shooting, Lawrence, his brother, Jameel McNeal, and another young man known only as Omar, engaged in a fist fight with Shihaab Loyal.
According to Loyal, later that same evening Lawrence fired off some shots in Loyal's presence. No injury resulted. The incident was reported to the police.
The next day, McNeal saw defendant, who was a friend of Loyal, on the fourth floor balcony of an apartment house.
McNeal warned his brother and told him to run toward a parked car. Five shots rang out from the balcony. Lawrence fell mortally wounded.
Defendant dropped the gun into the apartment incinerator. Defendant was arrested and charged as a juvenile. He gave a detailed, voluntary statement to the police. Following a waiver hearing, the Family Part forwarded the charges to the Law Division.
Defendant pleaded guilty to first-degree aggravated manslaughter, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4; and second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a. The State agreed to recommend that the sentence not exceed fifteen years. Consistent with the agreement, on August 19, 1998. Judge Betty J. Lester merged the convictions and imposed a fifteen-year term with a NERA*fn1 parole disqualifier.
Defendant appealed. We affirmed. State v. Terrance Bradley No. A-3297-00T4 (App. Div. April 8, 2003), certif. denied, 177 N.J. 495 (2003).
On April 30, 2004, more than five years after the conviction, defendant filed pro se a PCR petition. He alleged that: (1) trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance when counsel induced him to plead guilty to aggravated manslaughter; (2) counsel was ineffective for allowing him to plead guilty against the weight of the evidence; (3) his factual basis was insufficient to support a conviction for aggravated manslaughter; and (4) he was not advised of the penal consequences of his plea. PCR counsel was appointed. He filed a brief in support of the PCR petition. Judge Lester determined that an evidentiary hearing was not required and denied the petition. She found that the petition was time-barred by Rule 3:22-12a. On the merits, she rejected each allegation as follows:
As to [defendant's] claim that the factual basis provided in support of his plea of guilty was insufficient to support a conviction for aggravated manslaughter, this issue is procedurally barred pursuant to R. 3:22-4 as a claim that should have been raised on direct appeal. Moreover, the Appellate Division ruled that the factual ...