On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment No. 04-03-1040.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted November 4, 2010
Before Judges R. B. Coleman and Lihotz.
Defendant Wali Williams appeals from an order dated April 2, 2009 denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) and an evidentiary hearing. He asserts he presented a prima facie showing that his constitutional rights were violated by the PCR court's rulings.
The matter arises out of an Essex County grand jury indictment charging defendant with two counts of murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(1), (2) (counts one and seven); two counts of felony murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(3) (counts two and eight); three counts of first-degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (counts three, four, and nine); two counts of third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b) (counts five and ten); one count of second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a) (count eleven); two counts of second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 (counts twelve and thirteen); and third-degree theft by unlawful taking, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3(a) (count fourteen).
Following denial of his motion to suppress physical evidence and a confession, defendant agreed to enter a plea of guilty to two counts of felony murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(3) (counts two and eight); third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b) (count ten); and second-degree possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a) (count eleven). In exchange, the State agreed to recommend an aggregate custodial term of thirty years, without parole, and the dismissal of the remaining charges.
Before accepting the plea, the trial judge engaged in the following exchange with the defendant:
THE COURT: Mr. Williams, did you hear the assistant prosecutor, your attorney and the court discuss the proposed recommendation? THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: Did your attorney explain it to you?
THE COURT: Do you understand it?
THE COURT: Is it true that you want to plead guilty?
THE COURT: Do you understand it will be very difficult to take this guilty plea back once I accept your guilty plea?
THE COURT: Do you understand I'm more likely to believe what you have told me today that shows me you're guilty of these crimes rather than some later statement by you tending to show that you're not guilty? THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: Knowing that, do you still wish to plead guilty?
THE COURT: Do you understand that once you have been sentenced it will be even more difficult to try to take back the ...