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State v. Walker

July 12, 2010


On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment No. 03-04-1194.

Per curiam.


Submitted May 26, 2010

Before Judges Cuff and Waugh.

Defendant Clint Walker appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.


In March 2004, Walker was convicted of first-degree robbery, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (Count Two); third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon (sawed-off shotgun), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(c)(1) (Count Three); second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:39- 4(a) (Count Four); third-degree knowingly possessing a prohibited weapon, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3(b) (Count Five); and second-degree possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7(b). He was acquitted of second- degree conspiracy to commit robbery (Count One), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 and 2C:15-1. Walker was sentenced to an aggregate term of fifty years, subject to an eighty-five percent period of parole ineligibility pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. He appealed the conviction and sentence, which we affirmed. State v. Walker, No. A-1052-04 (App. Div. May 25, 2006). The Supreme Court denied Walker's petition for certification. State v. Walker, 188 N.J. 354 (2006).

In our opinion on his direct appeal, we summarized the facts related to the charges against Walker as follows:

On January 12, 2003, at approximately 8:00 a.m., Allen Cobb, sixty-nine years old, was loading groceries into his van at the Pathmark Supermarket located on the corner of Prospect Avenue and Eagle Rock Road in West Orange. As he did so, he heard a car pull up alongside him, which he thought was odd because the parking lot was empty. The car parked parallel to Cobb's van, facing the opposite direction and was "maybe four feet" away.

After the car stopped, Cobb turned around and saw two men, later identified as defendant and co-defendant Kenneth Grady, approaching him. The man on Cobb's left took his arm, checked the pockets of Cobb's sweatsuit and took his car keys and wallet, which contained approximately $120 cash, credit cards and all of Cobb's identification. The man on Cobb's right, who was standing about three feet away, said "give me the rest of the money" and "jacked" a shotgun that protruded from under his coat. As a former Marine and hunter, Cobb was very familiar with shotguns; he noticed the shotgun was shorter than usual.

Cobb told the men that he did not have any more money. The men got into their car and drove off with Cobb's wallet and keys. Although Cobb could not identify the make of the car, he described it as grey in color with a square back. Cobb also wrote down the license plate number, . . . . Cobb then went inside the market and called the police.

Officer Michael Mastras arrived on the scene approximately three minutes later. Cobb described the robbery to Mastras, provided him with the license plate number of the car, and then drove to police headquarters in his van with the use of a spare key that he kept in the van. Mastras immediately placed a notification regarding the license plate and a description of Cobb's assailants on the State Police Emergency Network (SPEN), which alerts all units to keep an eye out for the vehicle.

Mastras learned that the license plate was registered to Crystal D. Braxton . . . in Newark. Mastras also learned that the plates were registered to a four-door silver 1985 Nissan Stanza. The registration had expired in May of 2001.

At police headquarters, Cobb spoke with Detective Joseph Spero, who took Cobb's sworn statement. Cobb provided Spero with a description of the men. Both were black males; one of the men had "crazy looking hair and the other guy was a lighter skinned male with a mustache." He also described the men as being in their twenties. Spero showed Cobb two photo books, which contained about 150 to 200 photographs of black males, but Cobb made no identification at the time.

On the same day, Spero also learned that the registered owner of the car used by the assailants was Crystal D. Braxton. Spero spoke to Braxton, who said she no longer possessed the car or the plates. Braxton explained that she originally had the plates on a 1998 Nissan Stanza, but the car became disabled in 2000 and she abandoned the car and the plates on the boarder of East Orange and Newark. Braxton received a ticket for abandoning the vehicle, which she paid, and never saw the plates again. Upon returning to police headquarters from ...

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