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State v. King

December 17, 2009

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
LEON KING, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, No. I-98-03-1349.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted November 17, 2009

Before Judges Wefing and LeWinn.

Defendant appeals from a trial court order denying his petition for post-conviction relief ("PCR"). After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we affirm.

Defendant was indicted for murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1), (2); conspiracy to commit murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2; attempted murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1; aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1); unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b; and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a. In April 2000, defendant entered a negotiated plea of guilty to one count of aggravated manslaughter, as a lesser-included offense to murder, one count of aggravated assault and one count of unlawful possession of a weapon. According to the plea transcript, the State agreed to recommend that the trial court sentence defendant to twenty years in prison, subject to the provisions of the No Early Release Act ("NERA"), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. The trial court, however, indicated to defendant that based upon its understanding of the circumstances, defendant's sentence would likely be fifteen years in prison, subject to NERA. That is, in fact, the sentence the trial court imposed upon defendant on May 8, 2000, for aggravated manslaughter; the remaining terms were concurrent.

Defendant appealed, contending that this sentence was excessive. Defendant's appeal was heard on an ESOA calendar, and his argument was rejected. By order dated February 6, 2002, we affirmed defendant's sentence but remanded the matter to the trial court for entry of a corrected judgment of conviction.

State v. King, A-5263-00T4. The Supreme Court denied defendant's petition for certification. State v. King, 172 N.J. 181 (2002).

In February 2007, nearly seven years after defendant was sentenced, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his sentence because the offense occurred prior to the 2001 amendment to the NERA statute. After hearing oral argument, the trial court denied defendant's petition. This appeal followed.

On appeal, defendant raises the following arguments:

POINT I THE COURT ERRED IN DENYING POST-CONVICTION RELIEF BECAUSE THE 15 YEAR SENTENCE IMPOSED ON THE DEFENDANT'S PLEA TO AGGRAVATED MANSLAUGHTER ON COUNT TWO WAS ILLEGAL

(A)

THE COURT ERRED IN DENYING POST-CONVICTION RELIEF BECAUSE THE TRIAL JUDGE'S REPRESENTATIONS AT THE TIME THE PLEA WAS ACCEPTED MADE THE MAXIMUM SENTENCE AS ...


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