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State of New Jersey v. Christian Deloach

April 18, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
CHRISTIAN DELOACH, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Indictment No. 02-03-0485.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted December 14, 2011 -

Before Judges Fuentes, Graves and Koblitz.

Defendant Christian Deloach appeals from an order dated May 24, 2010, denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.

After a twelve-day jury trial in June 2003, defendant was convicted on nineteen counts of a twenty-two count indictment. Defendant was sentenced to an aggregate prison term of sixty years with fifty-one years of parole ineligibility pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2.

Defendant appealed his conviction and sentence. In an unpublished opinion,*fn1 we affirmed all of defendant's convictions except for a single count of carjacking. Because defendant had been sentenced to a consecutive ten-year term with five years of parole ineligibility for carjacking, and defendant raised other sentencing arguments, we remanded for resentencing.

At the resentencing hearing, the court eliminated the carjacking sentence but imposed the same sentence on defendant's other convictions, resulting in a fifty-year term of imprisonment with a NERA parole ineligibility period of forty-two-and-one-half years. Defendant appealed claiming that his aggregate sentence was excessive, but we affirmed. State v. Deloach, No. A-5851-05 (App. Div. June 28, 2007). The Supreme Court denied defendant's petition for certification. State v. Deloach, 192 N.J. 595 (2007).

Counsel was assigned after defendant filed a pro se petition for PCR. Defendant filed an amended verified petition on November 5, 2009. In a supporting certification, defendant stated his trial attorney "often seemed half asleep and distracted, and he certainly did not want to be bothered by me asking him questions. We got a chance to talk during the recesses, and he could never explain to me exactly why he was doing things any particular way." Defendant also stated he turned down "a plea offer of 30 years" prior to trial because his attorney said his "sentence would not be more than 30 years even if [he] was convicted of all charges in the Indictment."

Defendant also presented a certification from his mother. She stated defendant's attorney "was more than just unprepared in dealing with the trial itself. He was often spaced out, very disorganized, sometimes his speech was slurred, and he could not always remember important things about the case."

On April 27, 2010, the court heard argument on defendant's petition. At the outset of the hearing, the court noted that defendant's attorney died "approximately a year" after the trial, which concluded in June 2003. During the hearing, PCR counsel acknowledged that the trial court explained defendant's "entire potential sentence" at a plea cutoff hearing on February 20, 2003.*fn2 Nevertheless, PCR counsel argued that defendant turned down the plea offer because he did not receive "effective advice" from his attorney. Additionally, PCR counsel alleged that defendant's attorney was "asleep at the wheel" during the trial. In response, the State noted that during his sentencing hearing, defendant stated he never considered "a plea of guilty" because he knew he "didn't shoot four people." The prosecutor also argued that defendant's "after-the-fact post-hoc allegations" were an attempt "to make up a defense" because what defendant "advanced at trial simply didn't work."

In an oral decision on April 27, 2010, the PCR judge rejected defendant's claim that he was misinformed regarding his potential sentence. The judge explained his reasons for denying the remainder of defendant's claims in a written decision on May 24, 2010. An order denying PCR was entered on the same date.

On appeal, defendant presents the ...


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