On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Criminal Part, Essex County, Indictment No. 99-12-3717.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Rodríguez and Newman.
Defendant Paul Jones appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.
Following a jury trial, defendant was found guilty of first-degree armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 and second-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1). Judge Peter Vazquez imposed a sixteen-year term with a NERA*fn1 disqualifier on the armed robbery and a concurrent eight-year term with a NERA disqualifier on the aggravated assault. We affirmed on direct appeal. State v. Paul D. Jones, A-4586-00T4 (App. Div. April 3, 2003), certif. denied, 177 N.J. 577 (2003).
These are the salient facts. On October 16, 1999, at approximately 6:00 p.m. on Clinton Avenue in Newark, Charles Richard was waiting for a bus. Richard testified that "a couple of gentlemen approached me and hit me and I went down. . . . And I was drifting in and out of consciousness. . . . I woke up, I said I'll give you my money and he was ripping my left pocket, trying to get my money." Richard was struck at least three times and was bleeding from his lip, chin, eye and nose. As a result of the attack, Richard lost all his top teeth, and his jaw was broken in three places requiring his hospitalization and surgical procedures. The jaw was wired in three places. Richard still has difficulty speaking. Medical records, which were stipulated into evidence, corroborate Richard's testimony.
Newark Police Officers James Figueroa and Kenneth Lee were on routine patrol in their marked patrol car. They observed the attack upon Richard. Both officers recognized one of the assailants as defendant. They both saw defendant punching Richard, who fell to the ground. Figueroa also saw defendant slam Richard's face into the concrete of the sidewalk, and then rummage through Richard's pockets. Defendant attempted to run away. However, Figueroa apprehended him.
Two witnesses, Medina Jones and Anthony Brown, testified on behalf of defendant. They contradicted the testimony of Figueroa and Lee. There was no dispute as to the seriousness of the injuries inflicted.
Following his conviction defendant filed, pro se, a timely first PCR petition. Counsel, who was appointed, submitted defendant's certification in support of the petition. The principal allegation was ineffective assistance of trial counsel as follows:
My trial attorney failed to adequately question Anthony Brown. He also failed to have a doctor examine the victim to determine whether his injuries reached the level of aggravated assault.
My trial attorney failed to provide me with discovery in order to help prepare. He did not make a motion for a change of venue.
My trial attorney failed to investigate any further witnesses to the incident including employees of the ...