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State v. Wright

October 28, 2009

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
DEANNO WRIGHT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cape May County, Indictment No. 96-12-0786.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted September 15, 2009

Before Judges Wefing, Grall and Messano.

Following a jury trial, defendant Deanno Wright was found guilty of knowing and purposeful murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(1) and (2); felony murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(3); first-degree aggravated sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a)(3); and third-degree possession of a knife for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(d).*fn1 On November 11, 1998, after denying defendant's motion for a new trial, granting the State's motion to impose an extended term sentence, and considering appropriate mergers, the judge sentenced defendant to life imprisonment with a thirty-year parole disqualifier on the murder charge, and a consecutive life sentence with a twenty-five year parole disqualifier on the aggravated sexual assault charge. We affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence on direct appeal. State v. Wright, No. A-5225-98 (App. Div. March 15, 2001) (slip op. at 19). The Supreme Court denied defendant's petition for certification. State v. Wright, 169 N.J. 606 (2001). On October 2, 2001, defendant filed a pro se petition for habeas corpus relief with the Federal District Court, which was denied without prejudice on July 15, 2003.

On October 5, 2004, defendant filed a pro se petition and amended petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) which included his request for post-conviction DNA testing pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-32a(a). On February 8, 2007, he moved pro se for an immediate ruling on the request for DNA testing. On July 25, 2007, without specifically addressing defendant's request for DNA testing, the PCR judge, who was also the trial judge, denied defendant's petition, finding it to be, among other things, time-barred, since it was not filed within five years of defendant's judgment of conviction. R. 3:22-12. On February 20, 2008, defendant filed another pro se motion requesting post-conviction DNA testing. This instant appeal was filed on March 24, 2008.*fn2

In its brief, the State advises that defendant's second motion for post-conviction DNA testing was heard by the Law Division after he filed this appeal. On May 21, 2008, the motion judge denied the request; defendant's motion for reconsideration was also denied on July 17, 2008.*fn3 Defendant has not filed any reply brief contesting these facts.

Defendant raises the following points for our consideration:

POINT ONE

THE FIVE[-]YEAR TIME BAR SHOULD BE RELAXED WHERE THE CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUE RAISED FOR THE FIRST TIME SUBSTANTIALLY CHALLENGED THE RELIABILITY OF THE JURY'S VERDICT AND WAS NOT INTENTIONALLY DELAYED BY THE DEFENDANT.

POINT TWO

THE PCR COURT ERRED BY NEGLECTING THE DEEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR PERMISSION TO CONDUCT A DNA TEST ON SEVERAL ITEMS OF PHYSICAL EVIDENCE.

POINT THREE

THE DEFENDANT'S TRIAL ATTORNEY WAS CONSTITUTIONALLY INEFFECTIVE WHERE HE DID NOT ADEQUATELY CHALLENGE THE STATE'S FAILURE TO COMPARE THE SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT OF BLOOD COLLECTED AT THE SCENE WITH THE BLOOD OF ANY OF THE NUMEROUS SUSPECTS, INCLUDING THE DEFENDANT.

POINT FOUR

IN SPITE OF THE DEFENDANT'S OBJECTION TO THE STATE'S PEREMPTORY CHALLENGES ON THE BASIS OF SYSTEMATICALLY EXCLUDING SEVERAL POTENTIAL JURORS DUE TO RACE, THE RECORD IS SILENT AS TO WHY THE TRIAL COURT ACQUIESCED.

POINT FIVE

THE RECORD DOES NOT DISCLOSE THE TRIAL COURT'S PRECAUTIONS TO ASSURE THE DEFENDANT THAT THE PRE-TRIAL PUBLICITY WOULD NOT UNDULY PREJUDICE HIS TRIAL ATTORNEY'S COMPLAINT REGARDING A SPECIFIC INSTANCE [SIC].

We have considered these arguments in light of the record and applicable legal ...


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