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State of New Jersey v. Walter Yates

April 8, 2011

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
WALTER YATES, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County, Indictment No. 02-03-484.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted February 15, 2011

Before Judges Yannotti and Espinosa.

Defendant appeals from the denial of his petition for post- conviction relief (PCR) without an evidentiary hearing. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

Defendant pled guilty to third-degree burglary, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2, and first-degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1. On September 10, 2003, the sentencing court imposed an aggregate sentence of fifteen years with 85% of that term to be served before he is eligible for parole pursuant to the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, five years parole supervision, and appropriate fines and penalties.

Defendant did not file a direct appeal from his convictions and sentence.

Defendant filed a pro se PCR petition on March 2, 2007. In the certification submitted in support of the petition, defendant described the underlying offense as follows:

The basic facts are that defendant and his co-defendants, Lisa A. Stetser and Melvin Coles, planned to rob a Amoco Gas station, owned and operated by Harjeet Singh. Defendant was the driver. Defendant parked away from the gas station because he knew the owner, Mr. Singh and so that Mr. Singh would not know defendant was involved. The co-defendants approached the gas station and were able to get the cash register. Defendant Coles assaulted Mr. Singh with a hammer during the course of the theft. Defendant, upon witnessing the assault, drove over to the station to stop defendant Coles from beating Mr. Singh. The defendant refused to drive the co-defendants away with the cash register. The co-defendants attempted to run away with the register but dropped the register, leaving it in the parking lot of the gas station, which was next to the Amoco station. The cash register and cash were returned to the victim, Mr. Singh.

In his petition, defendant argued he did not commit the offense of robbery because the act of theft was not completed and his counsel was ineffective in failing to recognize the absence of a factual basis for his guilty plea. The PCR court denied defendant's petition by order dated March 10, 2009. Defendant presents the following issues for our consideration in his appeal.

POINT I

THE POST-CONVICTION RELIEF COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT DEFENDANT FAILED TO DEMONSTRATE THAT HE WAS DENIED THE EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF TRIAL COUNSEL

POINT II

THE POST-CONVICTION RELIEF COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO GRANT DEFENDANT AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING ON THE ISSUE OF ...


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