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State of New Jersey v. Maurice Flowers

January 31, 2011

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
MAURICE FLOWERS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County, Indictment No. 03-02-0273.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted November 10, 2010

Before Judges Gilroy and Ashrafi.

Defendant Maurice Flowers appeals from an order dated November 5, 2008, denying his petition for post conviction relief (PCR). A jury convicted defendant, and he was sentenced by the court, for striking a fellow drug dealer in the eye and blinding him over a five-dollar dispute.

The Law Division correctly rejected defendant's claim that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Nevertheless, we remand to the Law Division to determine whether defendant was resentenced in accordance with the Supreme Court's order of September 6, 2006.

In February 2003, defendant was indicted by a Mercer County grand jury on charges of first-degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (count one), third-degree theft by unlawful taking, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3a (count two), and second-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1) (count three). He was tried before a jury in February 2004. In a prior opinion, we recited the relevant facts shown by the evidence:

On October 12, 2002, at approximately 2:30 a.m., Waldine Davis, Joseph Harris, and defendant were engaged in the sale of cocaine. Davis gave a $20 bag of crack cocaine to Harris with directions for him to sell it, retain $15 for himself, and give $5 to defendant. Two men pulled up in a minivan, and defendant approached the vehicle with the $20 bag of cocaine, and attempted to sell the cocaine for $40 to the individuals in the van. Harris intervened, and took a $20 bill in exchange for the cocaine. After the sale, defendant approached Harris and demanded $10, instead of the original $5 defendant was promised, because defendant believed he had performed all the work, and had taken the risk that the buyers could have been police officers.

Harris refused, and defendant struck Harris, causing him to lose consciousness and fall to the pavement. While Harris was lying on the pavement, defendant took the $20 bill from Harris's hand; exchanged the $20 bill for two $10 bills with a third party walking nearby; and returned one $10 bill to Harris by putting the $10 bill in his pocket. When Harris awoke, he could not see. Harris was taken to the hospital the next day, where he was diagnosed with a ruptured globe of the left eye that caused total blindness in that eye.

At trial, both Davis and Harris testified as to the events surrounding the assault. Defendant testified and gave a version of events similar to that of Harris and Davis.

[State v. Flowers, No. A-5505-03 (App. Div. Feb. 2, 2006) (slip op. at 2-3).]

The jury found defendant not guilty of count one, robbery, and guilty of counts two and three, theft and aggravated assault. Because defendant had a prior record of at least five indictable convictions, the sentencing court granted the State's motion for a discretionary extended term under N.J.S.A. 2C:44- 3a. Defendant was sentenced to thirteen years' imprisonment for aggravated assault, with eighty-five percent of the term to be served before parole eligibility and three years of parole supervision pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. Defendant was also sentenced to a concurrent term of four years' imprisonment for the theft charge.*fn1

Defendant appealed his conviction and sentence, raising the following points of argument:

POINT ONE THE PROSECUTOR SPECIFICALLY ELICITED, IN DIRECT CONTRAVENTION OF STATE V. ALVAREZ, 318 N.J. SUPER. 137 (APP. DIV. 1999), THAT THE POLICE HAD A WARRANT ...


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