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State v. Tazewell

December 8, 2009

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
ANTHONY C. TAZEWELL, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Burlington County, 98-10-711-I.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted November 30, 2009

Before Judges Baxter and Coburn.

In 2000, a jury found defendant Anthony C. Tazewell guilty of first degree purposeful and knowing murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(1), and related crimes. He received an aggregate term of life imprisonment plus ten years, with a thirty-five year period of parole ineligibility. On direct appeal, we affirmed, State v. Tazewell, No. A-142-00T4 (App. Div. October 29, 2002), and the Supreme Court denied certification. State v. Tazewell, 176 N.J. 279 (2003).

In 2004, Tazewell filed a petition for post-conviction relief. Following a non-evidentiary hearing, Judge Thomas S. Smith denied the petition by order dated December 21, 2006. Tazewell appeals from that order, and we affirm.

By way of background, we incorporate by reference the description of the facts established at trial as set forth in our previously filed opinion noted above. We there observed that the "State presented decisive direct and circumstantial evidence of defendant's guilt." Tazewell, supra, at 3. Among other things, "DNA evidence revealed that the victim's blood was on defendant's right shoe and his fingerprint was identified on the bloody blade of the knife that was used to inflict the multiple stab wounds" to the victim's body. Ibid. We also noted that at trial, defendant admitted having left the victim's apartment in the morning after the murder, but claimed he left her asleep. Id. at 6. He also claimed that if he killed the victim, he was too intoxicated to have the requisite state of mind or that he was provoked because he had found her sleeping with another man. Ibid.

Tazewell offers the following arguments in support of this appeal:

POINT I: THE COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION BY APPLYING THE R. 3:22-4 PROCEDURAL BAR IN DENYING POST-CONVICTION RELIEF BECAUSE THE DEFENDANT'S FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT DUE PROCESS RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL WAS VIOLATED.

POINT II: THE COURT ERRED IN DENYING POST-CONVICTION RELIEF WITHOUT CONDUCTING A FULL EVIDENTIARY HEARING BECAUSE TRIAL COUNSEL'S INADEQUATE PRETRIAL INVESTIGATION; TRIAL COUNSEL'S INADEQUATE CROSS-EXAMINATION AND FAILURE TO PRESENT A COHERENT DEFENSE: [sic] TRIAL COUNSEL'S UNILATERAL DECISION TO HAVE THE DEFENDANT TESTIFY; AND TRIAL COUNSEL'S FAILURE TO MAKE APPROPRIATE OBJECTIONS; SATISFIED BOTH PRONGS OF THE STRICKLAND/FRITZ TEST FOR INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL AND APPELLATE COUNSEL WAS INEFFECTIVE FOR FAILING TO RAISE THESE ISSUES ON APPEAL.

A. THE DEFENDANT SATISFIED THE FIRST PRONG OF THE STRICKLAND/FRITZ TEST IN HIS PETITION FOR POST-CONVICTION RELIEF.

B. THE DEFENDANT SATISFIED THE SECOND PRONG OF THE STRICKLAND/FRITZ TEST IN HIS PETITION FOR POST-CONVICTION RELIEF.

POINT III: THE COURT'S RULING DENYING POST-CONVICTION RELIEF VIOLATED THE DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL AS GUARANTEED BY THE SIXTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ARTICLE I, PARAGRAPH 10, OF THE NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTION.

POINT IV: DEFENDANT REASSERTS ALL OTHER ISSUES RAISED IN PCR COUNSEL'S BRIEF AND IN DEFENDANT'S PRO SE ...


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