On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment No. 01-11-04588.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted June 19, 2012 -
Before Judges Axelrad and Parrillo.
Defendant Hassan Barnes appeals from an order of the Law Division denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR).
Indicted for the first-degree murder of Troy Jones, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1) and (2), and related conspiracy, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2, and related offenses, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d and N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d, defendant was convicted of the lesser-included crime of aggravated manslaughter, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4, and both weapons offenses. He was sentenced on the former to a twenty-five-year custodial term with an 85% period of parole ineligibility, to run concurrent with terms of eighteen months and five years imposed on the two weapons offenses respectively.
We affirmed defendant's conviction on appeal, but remanded for resentencing pursuant to State v. Natale, 184 N.J. 458 (2005). State v. Barnes, No. A-2907-03 (App. Div. Dec. 8, 2005). Defendant was re-sentenced to the same custodial terms originally imposed. We subsequently remanded again for a sentence disparity hearing, at which the original sentence was reimposed.
We recount the salient facts underlying the crimes for which defendant was found guilty as stated in our opinion affirming his conviction:
The charges arose out of the fatal beating of Troy Jones (Troy) on the morning of April 5, 2001. Tonya Jones (Tonya),*fn1 a friend of defendant and co-defendant, testified that while driving her friend's gold Acura on South Harrison Street in Orange, she was flagged down by James. He got into the car and told Tonya that defendant had just been robbed and asked her to drive him to defendant. They then spotted defendant walking towards the car. Defendant told James and Tonya he thought he knew where his "stuff" was, climbed into the back seat, and they went looking for Troy.
Tonya pulled over after they spotted Troy walking on Oakwood Avenue toward Main Street. Defendant got out of the car and placed a coat in the trunk. He then began fighting with Troy, after which James entered the fight. Troy ran across the street, pursued by defendant and co-defendant. Tonya then saw defendant strike Troy several times in the head with a U-bar or tire iron, while James struck him in the face with his fist. On direct, Tonya testified that after the victim fell to the ground, James went through his pockets. She further testified that the two men returned to the vehicle and she dropped them off a few blocks away and went home. On cross-examination, she testified that defendant returned to the car while the victim was still on his feet, and James continued to strike him until he fell, and then went through his pockets. She later learned the victim had died. Tonya subsequently gave a statement to the police, named defendant and co-defendant as the assailants and identified them in a photo array.
Kim Jones (Kim),*fn2 who gave a statement to the police that afternoon, testified that on her way to work at the Oakwood Avenue School, she saw two men beating another man and yelling "get him" or "hold him." She did not observe any weapons. The victim began running away and was chased by the men. Then one of the attackers entered a cab, presumably to follow the victim. A few days later she identified defendant from a photo array as one of the attackers and the one who entered the cab.
The responding officers observed the victim laying face down, bleeding from the head with a fatal skull wound. Witnesses advised that a gold Acura with two passengers had fled the scene. The victim died of trauma from a blunt instrument.
About a week later Investigator Harris received an anonymous call from a female who implicated defendant and co-defendant in the incident. A criminal record check and photographs of the two men were obtained and a ...