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State v. Koskovich

December 8, 2009

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
THOMAS J. KOSKOVICH, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Sussex County, Indictment Nos. 97-07-0150 & 97-07-0154.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted November 30, 2009

Before Judges Lisa, Baxter and Coburn.

Defendant Thomas Koskovich appeals from a June 12, 2008 order that denied his first petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We reject defendant's claim that appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to appeal the denial of defendant's motion to suppress his taped confession. We likewise reject defendant's contention that the trial judge was biased, and denied him a fair trial. We affirm.

I.

On April 19, 1997, defendant and his seventeen year old accomplice ordered two pizzas from a local pizzeria. When Jeremy Giordano and Giorgio Gallara arrived with the pizzas, defendant murdered Giordano. His accomplice murdered Gallara. Defendant and his accomplice rifled through the pockets of the slain men and removed their money.

Shortly after his arrest, defendant was interviewed by Detective Jack Repsha of the New Jersey State Police and Lieutenant Virgil Rome of the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office. After waiving his Miranda*fn1 rights, defendant provided a taped statement in which he confessed his role in the murders. During the interview, defendant was asked by Detective Repsha whether at the time of the interview, he was under the influence of any drugs, medication or alcohol. Defendant responded that he had used prescription drugs, Percocet and Fioricet, the previous day and was "just getting over everything." Later in the interview, another discussion about defendant's use of those medications occurred:

Q: [] I guess you were of clear enough mind [at the time of the murders] to decide where you were going to park the car and how you were going to escape.

A: We . . . were yeah. I mean it [the prescription drugs] doesn't really affect you that real bad. But it does affect you. . . .

Q: Are you on them now?

A: I was before.

Q: No but I mean right now while we're giving ...


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