On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County, Indictment No. 94-10-1390.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Cuff and St. John.
Defendant William Menter appeals from the July 15, 2010 order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) without an evidentiary hearing. Following our review of the arguments advanced on appeal, in light of the record and applicable law, we affirm the denial of his petition substantially for the reasons set forth by Judge Venable in her written opinion filed on July 15, 2010.
In pre-trial proceedings, defendant filed a motion to dismiss certain counts of his indictment. First, defendant argued the grand jury was presented with inadequate evidence to support the counts against him. Second, defendant asserted that the evidence submitted was deficient in that it was hearsay. Third, defendant maintained that the prosecutor presented the charges to the grand jury in such a way that the panel unreasonably "deferred to the prosecutor's judgment." Finally, defendant moved to strike two of the aggravating factors the State intended to prove at the penalty phase of trial in order to support a sentence of death.*fn1
The court denied defendant's motion to strike aggravating factor three (attempted aggravated sexual assault).*fn2 However, the court restricted the State to the theory that defendant intended to, and did in fact, cause Latisha Roberts extreme mental suffering by killing her family. In a published opinion, the motion judge, subject to the restriction, denied defendant's motion. State v. Menter, 293 N.J. Super. 330 (Law Div. 1995).
Defendant then entered a plea of guilty. In exchange for defendant's plea, the State agreed to withdraw the aggravating factors and not seek the death penalty on the three counts of capital murder. The State further agreed to recommend that a life sentence with thirty years of parole ineligibility be imposed on defendant for each murder count. Additionally, the State agreed to recommend that a sentence of twenty years with ten years of parole ineligibility be imposed on defendant for the attempted murder count. However, the State reserved the right to recommend that the sentences imposed for each of the murder counts and the attempted murder count run consecutively to each other. Lastly, the State agreed to dismiss some of the remaining counts of the indictment.
Defendant entered a guilty plea for three counts of murder, contrary to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(1); one count of attempted murder, a crime of the first-degree, contrary to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3; one count of aggravated assault, a crime of the second-degree, contrary to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(1); one count of aggravated assault, a crime of the third-degree, contrary to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(2); one count of possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, a crime of the third-degree, contrary to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(d); and one count of unlawful possession of a weapon, a crime of the fourth-degree, contrary to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(d).
On April 18, 1996, defendant was sentenced on the first murder count to State prison for a term of life imprisonment with thirty years of parole ineligibility; on the second murder count to a consecutive term of life imprisonment with thirty years of parole ineligibility; and on the third murder count to a consecutive term of life imprisonment with thirty years of parole ineligibility. Additionally, a term of twenty years with ten years of parole ineligibility was imposed on the attempted murder count consecutive to the murder sentences. A concurrent term of five years was imposed on the possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose count and a concurrent term of eighteen months was imposed on the unlawful possession of a weapon count. The remaining counts of the indictment were either dismissed or merged. The aggregate sentence imposed on defendant was three life terms with ninety years of parole ineligibility, plus a twenty-year term with ten years of parole ineligibility.
Defendant's conviction stemmed from the murder of three members of the Roberts family and the attempted murder of a fourth member, at their home in Jersey City. In his allocution, when he set forth the factual basis for his plea of guilty, defendant admitted using a box cutter to slash the throats of all four victims numerous times. He admitted that his purpose in doing so was to cause the death of each victim. He also admitted going to the Roberts' home "to do bodily harm to the Roberts family."
Defendant filed a notice of appeal limited to sentencing issues. The matter was listed on our excessive sentence oral argument (ESOA) calendar for July 21, 1999. After oral argument, we denied defendant's ...