On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment No. 03-07-2603.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Chambers and Kestin.
Defendant Antwan Smith appeals from the order of February 18, 2009, denying his petition for post-conviction relief. On September 8, 2004, pursuant to a plea agreement, defendant pled guilty to first degree aggravated manslaughter, N.J.S.A. 2C:11- 4(a); three counts of first degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1; first degree carjacking, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-2; second degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39- 4; second degree eluding, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2(b); and fourth degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(3).
When pleading guilty, defendant explained that on November 14, 2002, he robbed four individuals at gunpoint. From one victim, he took a Lexus. He drove off in the stolen vehicle, and during a high speed chase by the police, he went the wrong way down a one-way street and collided with another vehicle.
The driver of that vehicle died from injuries sustained in the accident, and debris from the collision injured a pedestrian in the area.
Defendant received an aggregate sentence of twenty years imprisonment, with an eighty-five percent period of parole ineligibility under the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2; a fifty percent period of parole ineligibility under the Graves Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(c) and (d); and five years of parole supervision upon release. The trial court also imposed the requisite financial penalties and assessments. On appeal, the case was remanded for resentencing under State v. Natale, 184 N.J. 458 (2005). The trial court reimposed the original sentence, and we affirmed that sentence by order dated November 15, 2007. State v. Smith, No. 4976-04 (App. Div. Nov. 15, 2007).
Defendant thereafter filed a timely petition for post- conviction relief. He contended that defense counsel was ineffective for failing to determine whether defendant's mental condition might rise to the level of a defense or affect his competency to understand the charges and knowingly and voluntarily plead guilty. He contended that he had been on medication since childhood, but was not on medication at the time he committed the offenses. At the post-conviction relief hearing, defense counsel stated that defendant maintains he was diagnosed with chronic paranoid schizophrenia and had been placed on medication.
The trial court denied the post-conviction relief petition in an oral decision placed on the record and in a written decision dated February 18, 2009. In doing so, the trial court noted in its written decision the lack of specificity and factual support for defendant's contentions stating:
Petitioner raises vague claims that "neither of the defendant's assigned counsel made any effort to determine whether his mental condition might rise to the level of a defense." However, Petitioner affirmed in Court that he committed the offenses he was being charged with and that he was pleading guilty because he was in fact guilty.
During this colloquy with the Court, Petitioner affirmed that he was not under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication. Now, Petitioner presents vague assertions that fail to provide the court with a description of the medications Petitioner was taking, Petitioner's medical history and the effects of not taking such medication. Petitioner has not presented to the court the necessary evidence and factual assertions to prevail under the rule.
In conducting its analysis under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed. 2d 674 ...