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State v. Stone

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

May 22, 2013

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
LUCERITA STONE, Defendant-Appellant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted February 5, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County, Indictment No. 98-06-0962.

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Gregory P. Jordan, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

Gaetano T. Gregory, Acting Hudson County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Stephanie Davis-Elson, Special Deputy Attorney General/Acting Assistant Prosecutor, on the brief).

Before Judges Fisher, Waugh, and St. John.

PER CURIAM

Defendant Lucerita Stone appeals the Law Division's April 29, 2011 order denying her motion for a new trial and petition for post-conviction relief. We affirm.

I.

We discern the following facts and procedural history from the record on appeal.

Stone was indicted on charges growing out of a fire at a multi-family dwelling in the early morning hours of May 30, 1997. She lived in the building's illegal basement apartment, and had a contentious relationship with the resident landlord. Three children who also lived in the building died in the fire.

Following a jury trial, Stone was found guilty of three counts of second-degree reckless manslaughter, three counts of first-degree felony murder, and one count of arson. She was acquitted on a charge of aggravated arson. The sentencing judge merged the reckless-manslaughter and arson convictions into the felony-murder convictions. After finding aggravating factors one and nine and mitigating factor seven, the judge sentenced defendant to three consecutive life terms in prison with a ninety-year period of parole ineligibility.

Stone appealed both the convictions and the sentence. We affirmed the convictions, but modified the sentence to three concurrent terms of life imprisonment with a thirty-year parole disqualifier. State v. Lucerita Stone, No. A-3307-99 (App. Div. Aug. 4, 2003). The Supreme Court denied Stone's petition for certification. State v. Stone, 178 N.J. 36 (2003).

In 2004, Stone filed a petition for post-conviction relief (PCR), raising fourteen issues. The Law Division dismissed the petition in April 2006. We affirmed the dismissal. State v. Lucerita Stone, No. A-5317-05 (App. Div. Feb. 29, 2008). The Supreme Court denied ...


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