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State of New Jersey v. Newell D. Knight

January 6, 2011

STATE OF NEW JERSEY,
PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
NEWELL D. KNIGHT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Passaic County, Indictment No. 03-12-1123.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted December 7, 2010

Before Judges Yannotti and Skillman.

Defendant Newell Knight appeals from an order entered by the Law Division on February 21, 2008, denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.

This appeal arises from the following facts. On August 9, 2003, defendant shot and killed Judith Gonzalez. The following day, he fled the United States and returned to Jamaica, which is his native country. On October 15, 2003, Jamaican authorities arrested defendant on a provisional warrant that had been issued the previous month by a Resident Magistrate for the Corporate Area. Defendant waived extradition and was returned to the United States, where he was arraigned on November 17, 2003.

Thereafter, defendant was charged under Passaic County Indictment No. 03-12-1123-I, with first-degree murder, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(1) or (2) (count one); second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a) (count two); and third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b) (count three).

On February 15, 2005, defendant pled guilty to count one, which was amended to charge first-degree aggravated manslaughter, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4(a). Thereafter, defendant filed a motion to withdraw his plea. The trial court denied the motion on July 22, 2005. The court then sentenced defendant to thirty years of incarceration and required defendant to serve 85% of that term, pursuant to the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2 (NERA).

Defendant appealed the July 22, 2005, judgment of conviction entered by the trial court. Defendant argued that the trial court erred by denying his motion to withdraw his plea. He additionally argued that his sentence was excessive. We affirmed. State v. Knight, No. A-1566-05 (App. Div. Aug. 24, 2006). Defendant then sought review of our judgment by filing a petition for certification with the Supreme Court. The Court denied the petition. State v. Knight, 188 N.J. 579 (2006).

On January 2, 2007, defendant filed a pro se petition for PCR. Defendant alleged that: 1) he was unlawfully extradited; 2) the statement he gave to detectives from the Passaic County prosecutor's office was obtained in violation of his constitutional rights; 3) the State violated his rights under the Vienna Convention of Consular Relations (VCCR),*fn1 because he was not advised that he could contact the Jamaican consulate after his arrest; and 4) he was denied the effective assistance of trial counsel. The court assigned PCR counsel to represent defendant, and counsel filed a brief on defendant's behalf.

Judge Randolph M. Subryan considered defendant's petition on January 25, 2008, and thereafter filed a written opinion dated February 21, 2008, in which he concluded that: 1) defendant had been lawfully extradited; 2) defendant gave his statement to the detectives from the prosecutor's office after he knowingly and voluntarily waived his Miranda*fn2 rights; 3) defendant was not prejudiced by the State's alleged failure to comply with the VCCR; and 4) defendant was not denied the effective assistance of trial counsel. The judge entered an order dated February 21, 2008, denying PCR.

On appeal, defendant raises the following arguments for our consideration:

POINT ONE

THE PCR COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE VIOLATION OF DEFENDANT'S RIGHTS UNDER ARTICLE 36 OF THE VIENNA CONVENTION AND ARTICLE 16 OF THE UK BILATERAL CONSULAR TREATY DID NOT ...


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