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State v. King

May 3, 2010

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



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Burlington County, Indictment Nos. 76-129 to 76-130 and 78-1110 to 78-1117.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted November 17, 2009

Before Judges Grall and LeWinn.

Defendant appeals from the March 5, 2008 order of the Criminal Part denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) based upon claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel and excessive sentence. This PCR petition stemmed from defendant's convictions following two separate trials in 1978. We affirm.

On October 18, 1976, defendant was indicted on various charges resulting from a crime spree in May 1976 when he was traveling from Florida to New York. These charges included: possession of a revolver in a public place without having obtained a permit, N.J.S.A. 2A:151-41(a); possession of a revolver with intent to use unlawfully against another, N.J.S.A. 2A:151-56; kidnapping, N.J.S.A. 2A:118-1; threats to kill, N.J.S.A. 2A:113-8; assault with an offensive weapon, N.J.S.A. 2A:90-3; robbery, N.J.S.A. 2A:141-1; armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2A:151-5; and bringing a stolen motor vehicle into the state, N.J.S.A. 2A:119-9.

Between May 25 and June 12, 1978, the trial judge held several pretrial proceedings, during which defendant first indicated that he intended to retain private counsel rather than accept representation by the Public Defender. When defendant had failed to retain counsel by the date of the last pretrial hearing, on June 12, 1978, the judge offered him the services of the Public Defender; defendant, however, indicated that he was considering representing himself. Following this pretrial proceeding, sheriff's officers placed defendant in the jury room to await transport; defendant, however, escaped from the court house and subsequently engaged in another crime spree which led to additional indictments on August 26, 1978. Those indictments were for escape, N.J.S.A. 2A:104-6; several counts of breaking and entering with intent to rob and with intent to steal, N.J.S.A. 2A:94-1; armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2A:151-5; threats to kill, N.J.S.A. 2A:113-8; false imprisonment, N.J.S.A. 2A:85-1; assault with an offensive weapon, N.J.S.A. 2A:90-3; unlawful use of a dangerous weapon, N.J.S.A. 2A:151-56; and possession of a firearm as a convicted person, N.J.S.A. 2A:151-8.

Defendant proceeded to trial on the 1976 indictments between July 10 and July 13, 1978. At that time he was incarcerated in federal prison for kidnapping convictions stemming from his crime spree.

Defendant stated his intention to represent himself, and the trial judge directed the Public Defender to serve as assistant counsel. During that trial, defendant professed that he was unprepared and unable to defend himself; however, he continually refused the services of the Public Defender. He was convicted of kidnapping and armed robbery. On August 9, 1978, defendant was sentenced to an aggregate term of thirty to thirty-one years, concurrent to the federal sentence he was then serving. Following sentencing, defendant was returned to federal custody.

Defendant appealed and we affirmed in an unpublished opinion on March 24, 1981. State v. King, No. A-355-78 (App. Div. March 24, 1981). We summarized the trial evidence as follows:

On the evening of May 12, 1976, defendant broke into the home of Jay Disbrow in Harve-de-Gras, Maryland, tied up Disbrow and his wife, threatened his young son with a gun, and forced Disbrow to drive him towards New York in Disbrow's 1963 Ford Falcon. Defendant explained that he was being pursued by the police. A few hours later, during the early morning hours of May 13th, defendant left Disbrow near Exit 4 of the New Jersey Turnpike and drove away. The Burlington City Police Department later found the car approximately 200 yards from the apartment of Juan Vernon Hill (the victim specified in the present indictments) who lived in the Burlington Court Apartment Complex in Burlington.

Hill was leaving his apartment at approximately 8:15 a.m. on the morning of May 13th, when he was approached by defendant who asked him directions to the Burlington Diner. As Hill was giving defendant directions, the latter pulled out a gun, got into Hill's car, and instructed him to drive to New York. Defendant took Hill's watch, the money from his wallet, and his cap.

When they reached New York, defendant instructed Hill to get out of the car. When Hill refused to get into the trunk, defendant pistol-whipped him. A security guard, hearing the commotion, approached, and defendant pulled away. Hill was taken to a hospital where he was treated for his injuries. [Id. at 1-2.]

In that opinion, we rejected defendant's contention that his waiver of counsel was unknowing ...


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