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State of New Jersey v. Jose Castillo

December 28, 2010

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
JOSE CASTILLO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County, Indictment No. 98-12-1881.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted: December 8, 2010

Before Judges Cuff and Fasciale.

Defendant, Jose Castillo, appeals from a May 15, 2009 order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). He argues that his trial and PCR counsel were ineffective. We disagree and affirm.

On May 24, 1999, defendant pled guilty to first-degree aggravated manslaughter, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4a (Count One), and second-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1) (Count Three). In his factual basis provided under oath at the plea proceeding, defendant testified that he shot and killed one victim and inflicted serious bodily injury to another victim. On August 19, 1999, the judge sentenced defendant on Count One to twenty years in state prison 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, concurrent to five years in prison on Count Three. The sentence is consistent with the plea agreement. Defendant argued on direct appeal that his sentence was excessive. On October 16, 2002, we affirmed the judgment, stating that "the issues on appeal relate solely to the sentence imposed, we are satisfied that the sentence is not manifestly excessive or unduly punitive and does not constitute an abuse of discretion."

On September 25, 2008, defendant filed his PCR petition and argued in his pro se letter brief that:

POINT I

DEFENDANT RECEIVED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL WHEN COUNSEL INDUCED DEFENDANT TO PLEAD GUILTY TO A 20 YEAR NERA TERM FOR AGGRAVATED MANSLAUGHTER.

POINT II

DEFENDANT'S FACTUAL BASIS WAS UNSUPPORTED BY THE EVIDENCE AND COUNSEL WAS INEFFECTIVE FOR ALLOWING DEFENDANT TO PLEAD GUILTY AGAINST THE WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE.

POINT III

COUNSEL PROVIDED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE AT SENTENCING BY FAILING TO ADVANCE A MEANINGFUL ARGUMENT ...


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