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State of New Jersey v. Craig Blackmon

November 15, 2011

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
CRAIG BLACKMON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County, Indictment No. 85-11-1193.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued October 3, 2011

Before Judges Parrillo and Alvarez.

Defendant Craig Blackmon appeals from a July 27, 2009 order of the Law Division denying his fourth petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.

Following a jury trial in 1988, defendant was found guilty of first-degree knowing or purposeful murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11- 3(a)(1); felony murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(3); two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a)(4) and -2(a)(6); and third-degree possession of a weapon with the purpose of using it unlawfully, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(d).

The underlying facts of these crimes were summarized in our August 25, 1992 opinion on direct appeal. In brief, defendant had brutally raped his cousin and stabbed her to death. As we described the crimes in that opinion:

The victim was defendant's twenty-two-year-old cousin. On May 18, 1985, at about 9:00 p.m., her body was discovered by her sisters on the kitchen floor of the family home. Her two-year-old son, who was smeared with blood, was found on the second floor of the house. There was blood all over the kitchen. Her dress was pushed up around her waist. Her wrists were tied together. There were numerous stab wounds on her hands, throat, leg and in her genital area. She also had numerous head injuries including a fractured jaw where her head had been kicked in. Her assailant had urinated on her. The causes of death were manual strangulation and extensive external hemorrhaging.

[State v. Blackmon, No. A-5648-87 (App. Div. Aug. 25, 1992) (slip op. at 2-3).]

At sentencing on June 18, 1988, the trial judge merged the felony murder count into the purposeful or knowing murder count. He also merged the conviction for possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose into the aggravated sexual assault, and then merged both aggravated sexual assault convictions. For the murder, he sentenced defendant to life imprisonment, thirty years without parole; and for the merged aggravated sexual assault conviction, he sentenced defendant to a consecutive twenty-year prison term, ten years without parole.

On direct appeal, we affirmed defendant's murder conviction, determined that the aggravated assault convictions should have merged with his murder conviction, vacated the aggravated sexual assault as merged with the murder conviction, unmerged the weapons conviction from the aggravated sexual assault conviction, and remanded it to the trial judge for any action it deemed appropriate, including resentencing on that conviction. Blackmon, supra, slip op. at 10. The Supreme Court denied certification. State v. Blackmon, 130 N.J. 599 (1992).

On remand for resentencing on September 11, 1992, the trial court imposed a consecutive five-year term of imprisonment subject to two-and-one-half years of parole ineligibility on defendant's weapon conviction. Thereafter defendant appealed the sentence, which was heard on our Excessive Sentence Oral Argument (ESOA) calendar on October 19, 1993 and affirmed. Defendant filed his first PCR petition four years later, on March 21, 1997. On February 23, 1999, the PCR judge entered an order denying the petition, except as to defendant's claim that there should have been merger of the weapon offense with the murder and sexual assault conviction. The issue, along with others, was heard on June 7, 1999.*fn1 On June 8, 1999, the court denied the petition for PCR except for the issue of merger, which it granted.

Defendant appealed the order denying PCR and the State cross-appealed the merger of the weapon offense, contending that the sentence imposed on our general remand should be reinstated.

In an unpublished opinion, we affirmed the denial of the PCR petition and reversed, on the State's cross-appeal, the order merging defendant's conviction for unlawful possession of a weapon into his merged conviction of first-degree murder and first-degree aggravated sexual assault. State v. Blackmon, No. A-6400-98 (App. Div. June 13, 2001). Accordingly, we entered an order unmerging the weapons ...


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