On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County, Indictment No. 03-01-0163.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted February 1, 2011 - Decided Before Judges Parrillo and Skillman.
Defendant was indicted for purposeful or knowing murder, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(1)(2); felony murder, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(3); first degree robbery, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1; third degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(d); fourth degree unlawful possession of a weapon, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(d); fourth degree forgery, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:21-1(a)(3). The details of the gruesome murder defendant committed were set forth in a confession defendant gave to police officers investigating the crime. The State sought the death penalty.
Thereafter, the State entered into a plea bargain with defendant under which it agreed to "dismiss aggravating factors and not seek the death penalty" and defendant agreed to plead guilty to the purposeful or knowing murder and robbery charges. At the plea hearing defendant acknowledged that she would be subject to a sentence of up to life imprisonment, with the 85% period of parole ineligibility mandated by the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, which would be sixty-three and three-quarters years, for the murder, and that both her attorney and the prosecutor "will have the chance to argue to the Court what the sentence should be."
The trial court sentenced defendant in accordance with the plea agreement to life imprisonment, subject to the period of parole ineligibility mandated by NERA, for the murder, and a concurrent twenty-year term, also subject to the period of parole ineligibility mandated by NERA, for the robbery.
We heard defendant's direct appeal on an excess sentence calendar, see R. 2:9-11, and affirmed her sentence. State v. Petterway, A-1811-04 (Feb. 9, 2006).
Defendant filed a petition for post-conviction relief claiming that her trial court had been ineffective in failing to: 1) inform defendant of the nature and meaning of the State's "no recommendation" plea; 2) inform defendant of her sentencing exposure; 3) inform defendant that the psychological reports could be used as a defense rather than as sentence mitigation; and 4) effectively investigate the case. Defendant also asserted a claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. Defendant sought an evidentiary hearing on her claims.
On July 28, 2009, the trial court issued a comprehensive oral opinion denying defendant's petition.
On appeal from that denial, defendant presents the following arguments:
POINT I: THE ORDER DENYING POST-CONVICTION
RELIEF SHOULD BE REVERSED AND THE MATTER REMANDED FOR A FULL EVIDENTIARY HEARING BECAUSE THE DEFENDANT MADE A PRIMA FACIE SHOWING OF INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL UNDER R. 3:22 POST-CONVICTION RELIEF CRITERIA.
POINT II: DEFENDANT REASSERTS ALL OTHER
ISSUES RAISED IN THE DEFENDANT'S PETITION FOR POST-CONVICTION RELIEF AND IN PCR COUNSEL'S BRIEF IN ...