On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County, Indictment Nos. 04-02-0544 and 04-12-4682.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 7, 2010
Before Judges Grall and Alvarez.
This is an appeal from the denial of defendant's petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). No evidentiary hearing was granted. Defendant raises the following points:
MR. AGRON IS ENTITLED TO RELIEF OR A HEARING ON HIS CLAIM THAT HIS TRIAL ATTORNEY RENDERED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL FOR FAILING TO PRESENT FOUR RELEVANT MITIGATING FACTORS TO THE COURT AT SENTENCING
MR. AGRON'S PETITION FOR POST-CONVICTION RELIEF IS NOT BARRED BECAUSE HE DID NOT FILE A DIRECT APPEAL AND DID NOT RAISE THE ISSUE OF INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL IN A DIRECT APPEAL
We reject defendant's contentions and affirm.
On June 29, 2005, defendant, Daniel Agron, entered a guilty plea to first-degree aggravated manslaughter, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4(a)(1), as amended from the original charge of murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(2). Defendant also entered a guilty plea to a second single-count indictment on a charge of third-degree aggravated assault on a police officer, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(5). On August 22, 2005, pursuant to the plea agreement, defendant was sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, on the aggravated manslaughter and a concurrent four-year term on the aggravated assault. The remaining counts of the first indictment were dismissed, including counts of attempted murder involving two other victims, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1 and N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a). No direct appeal was filed from these convictions.
On December 13, 2007, defendant filed a pro se petition for PCR. Thereafter, the matter was briefed by counsel. On March 20, 2009, the court heard oral argument and rendered a decision denying defendant's petition, including his request for evidentiary hearing.
The facts need not be recited at length. On January 3, 2003, while in Camden, defendant shot and killed Alex Castellar,*fn1 striking him in the head and leg. During this altercation, defendant also shot at two other victims, Alexis Gonzalez and Confessor Castellar. As the judge described it in denying defendant's PCR, the incident occurred because of "bad blood" between two groups in the neighborhood.
The evidence against defendant was substantial. He was positively identified by the two surviving victims as well as other ...