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State of New Jersey v. Ronald Burns

June 4, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
RONALD BURNS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Burlington County, Indictment No. 00-07-0531.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted January 31, 2012

Before Judges Payne and Reisner.

Appellant filed a pro se supplemental brief.

Evidence at trial demonstrated that, on September 6, 1999, defendant, Ronald Burns, directed the murder by Tony Felder of Ronald Patterson, Jr., a rival drug dealer. Felder, who was offered a plea to aggravated manslaughter, testified against defendant at his trial for murder*fn1 and, in March 2002, defendant was convicted of that crime, as well as second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and third-degree hindering the apprehension of another (Tony Felder). A substantial number of witnesses corroborated the fact that defendant directed that the murder take place. Defendant was sentenced to life in prison with thirty years of parole ineligibility on June 14, 2002 on the murder conviction and to a five-year consecutive sentence on the conviction for hindering apprehension. The weapons conviction was merged into that for murder.

Defendant appealed his convictions, and we reversed, State v. Burns, No. A-6273-01 (App. Div. May 11, 2006), but our decision was in turn reversed by the Supreme Court in July 2007. State v. Burns, 192 N.J. 312 (2007). Defendant sought post-conviction relief (PCR) in August 2007, and his claim was denied by the court without an evidentiary hearing in a lengthy written opinion issued on April 27, 2010. Defendant has appealed.

On appeal, defendant argues through counsel as follows:

POINT I DEFENDANT'S PCR PETITION SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN TIME-BARRED.

POINT II THIS MATTER MUST BE REMANDED FOR AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING BECAUSE DEFENDANT ESTABLISHED A PRIMA FACIE CASE OF TRIAL COUNSEL'S INEFFECTIVENESS.

A. Trial Counsel Failed To Investigate Adequately And/Or To Produce Exculpatory Witnesses.

B. Trial Counsel Failed To Advise Defendant Of The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Testifying At Trial.

Defendant has also filed a pro se brief, in ...


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