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State of New Jersey v. Sean Taliaferro

February 4, 2011

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
SEAN TALIAFERRO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County, Indictment No. 05-09-2009.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted January 12, 2011

Before Judges Axelrad and J. N. Harris.

Defendant Sean Taliaferro appeals from the June 25, 2009 order of the Law Division denying his first petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) without an evidentiary hearing. He alleges ineffective assistance of trial, appellate, and PCR counsel in connection with the trial presentation of an unavailable witness's videographed testimony while clothed in prison garb. We affirm.

As a result of a two-day jury trial, defendant was convicted of second-degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1; third-degree receiving stolen property, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7; and third-degree eluding, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2(b). The court imposed an aggregate twenty-two-year term of imprisonment, 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.

On direct appeal, we affirmed the conviction, but remanded for reconsideration of the sentence in light of State v. Natale, 184 N.J. 458 (2002). See State v. Taliaferro, No. A-6012-05T4 (App. Div. Jan. 11, 2008). The Supreme Court denied certification. State v. Taliaferro, 195 N.J. 419 (2008). On remand, the Law Division re-imposed the same sentence.

Shortly thereafter, defendant filed a timely application for PCR. After the appointment of PCR counsel and the submission of additional briefs, the Law Division conducted oral argument on June 25, 2009. The court rendered an oral decision denying PCR that day, which was memorialized in the order that is the subject of this appeal.

We take our recitation of the facts from the direct appeal, as follows:

On July 23, 2005, at approximately 9:00 p.m., Tina Laspina was walking in Atlantic City when a man got out of an SUV, ran up to her and punched her in the face. The man, whom Laspina later identified as defendant, took her money, ran back to the vehicle, and drove away. Another individual was in the passenger seat.[] A few minutes later, Laspina gave Officer Dean Dooley a description of the person who robbed her and of the car he was driving. She described the man as a large black male with a bald head and beard wearing a white T-shirt. She described the car as a silver Lexus SUV.

Dooley radioed the description to police dispatch and then called for an ambulance for Laspina, who was visibly upset and bleeding from the mouth. She received medical attention on the scene, but refused to go the hospital. She was taken from the scene in Officer Paul Aristizabal's police cruiser.

Sergeant Rodney Ruark heard the police dispatch of the robbery suspect's description. Approximately twenty minutes later, he observed a silver Toyota 4Runner turning into a gas station on Route 30. He saw a bald, black male with a full beard wearing a white t-shirt in the driver's seat. Ruark called Aristizabal and asked him to confirm with Laspina whether there had been a passenger in the suspect's SUV and whether the suspect was bald. Laspina stated that the suspect was bald and she believed a passenger was in the SUV.

Ruark drove directly behind the SUV and turned on his overhead lights and side spotlight. The SUV did not stop. He then activated his siren and advised dispatch that the SUV was not stopping. Defendant stopped the vehicle approximately a mile later, and ran from the SUV to a nearby apartment complex where he was apprehended. He was placed in the back of Officer DePaul's police car.

Laspina was transferred to Dooley's car. Dooley and DePaul decided to perform a show-up in a nearby vacant lot. DePaul arrived first with defendant. When Dooley pulled into the lot with Laspina, DePaul placed defendant, in handcuffs, in front of Dooley's car headlights. Laspina, from inside ...


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