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State v. Figueroa

June 17, 2010


On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County, Indictment No. 96-10-1184.

Per curiam.


Submitted May 5, 2010

Before Judges Graves and Newman.

Defendant Ivelisa Figueroa appeals from an order denying her petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.

The relevant facts are as follows. Defendant was instrumental in setting up the robbery of an older person, Mohamad Maghoub, who was romantically interested in her. Defendant recruited three other individuals to participate in the robbery. The plan was for defendant to go to the victim's house and to signal the participants by telephone that the door was open. She would also try to let the victim's dog out of the house at the time. The first attempt was aborted when other people were at the house on that evening. Defendant was reluctant to proceed. However, the participants met with her again, and she agreed to follow through the next night. She called a co-defendant, Juan Soto, at around 9:30 p.m. from the victim's house, indicating that the door was open. She knew that Soto, Marcus Antonio "Poncho" Robles, and Elvis "Bechy" Terron would be armed. Timmy Terron, Elvis's brother, drove them and waited in the car outside Maghoub's house.

Approximately fifteen minutes after the telephone call, Soto, Robles, and Elvis Terron burst into the house. Robles carried a cross bow, and Soto carried a sawed-off shotgun. The victim screamed and tried to grab the shotgun. In the struggle that followed, the gun accidentally went off. Defendant was shot in the leg. She fled and Timmy Terron gave her a ride to his house.

Elvis Terron covered the victim's mouth with a roll of tape. Robles grabbed the shotgun and hit the victim numerous times in the face and head, bludgeoning him to death. Soto took cash from the victim's pocket, as well as two rings and two bracelets. They ran out the back door and proceeded to Timmy Terron's house. They split the money and jewelry, with defendant receiving eighty dollars.

The Terron brothers confessed to the crimes and pleaded guilty. They implicated defendant and were willing to testify against her at trial. Defendant also confessed to the crimes. At the time, she was over seventeen years old. Her parents were in Puerto Rico, but the police contacted her aunt to seek permission to speak to defendant about the events that resulted in the murder.

Defendant was indicted for murder, felony murder, first-degree robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, first-degree kidnapping, burglary, second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and third-degree possession of a weapon. Because she was under eighteen years of age, the State moved to waive her to the adult court. Judge Forrester heard the matter and determined that the case should proceed to a waiver hearing. A waiver hearing was then held. Judge Forrester concluded that there was a reasonable probability of defendant's rehabilitation by the age of nineteen when defendant was seventeen-years-and-seven-months old at the time. However, he found that even though there was a likelihood of rehabilitation, such probability did not substantially outweigh the reasons for waiver, N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-26(a)(3). The trial court found that the serious nature of the offense and the need for deterrence were not substantially outweighed by the probability of rehabilitation.

In describing the offense, Judge Forrester had this to say in his written opinion:

The plan was for the juvenile to use Mr. Maghoub's interest in her to their advantage by going to his home and assisting the others to gain entry and execute the robbery. From the evidence produced at the Phase I (probable cause) hearing, it would appear that the only area of disagreement concerns the issue of whether the plot involved an intent to kill the victim. But even if considered in a light most favorable to her, the armed robbery which was planned and carried out in this case, is among the most grave and serious offenses which our system of justice must deal with.

Pursuant to the plea agreement, defendant pled guilty on September 8, 1999 to first-degree aggravated manslaughter and first-degree robbery. The State agreed to recommend that defendant receive a twenty-one year prison term with ten-andone-half years of parole ineligibility for the aggravated manslaughter and a consecutive fifteen-year term with seven-and- one-half years of parole ineligibility for armed robbery. The plea agreement resulted in an aggregate term of thirty-six years with eighteen years of parole ineligibility. In making this particular offer, the State had reduced its original offer of fifty years with twenty-five years of parole ineligibility. Defendant was sentenced in accordance with the plea agreement.

This court affirmed the sentence, finding that it was neither manifestly excessive, unduly punitive, and did not constitute an abuse of discretion. State v. Figueroa, No. A-3456-99 (App. Div. Sept. 13, 2000). The Supreme Court denied the ...

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