NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted February 13, 2013.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County, Indictment No. 95-04-0866.
Malachi Feagins, appellant pro se.
James P. McClain, Acting Atlantic County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (James F. Smith, Special Deputy Attorney General/Acting Assistant County Prosecutor, of counsel and on the brief).
Before Judges Sapp-Peterson and Nugent.
Defendant, Malachi Feagins, appeals from the trial court order denying his motion for a new trial based upon newly discovered evidence, namely, evidence that a witness, Marsha Collins, who testified against him at trial, received favorable treatment in connection with pending criminal charges against her. We affirm.
The relevant evidence presented at trial revealed that defendant and the victim, William Taylor, were involved in a territory dispute related to narcotics distribution. Defendant shot Taylor in front of onlookers. Four of the eyewitnesses testified at trial, including Marsha Collins. Prior to her testimony, Collins had been sentenced to a 180-day jail sentence in connection with drug charges. After the State and defense counsel jointly sought reconsideration of her sentence, the court vacated the custodial sentence and placed Collins on probation. During her testimony, she denied that any promises had been made to her in exchange for her cooperation. She testified that she gave the statement implicating defendant
because I saw somebody lose his life in front of my face. So you can badger me all you want, but that [any promises from the State] wasn't the reason. Somebody lost their life and if that was Black's [meaning defendant] brother, I would be up here doing the same thing.
The jury convicted defendant of Taylor's murder and defendant is currently serving a life sentence.
In filing his motion for a new trial, defendant claimed that he finally secured the transcript of the State's plea offer to Collins in which the State agreed to amend a previous plea offer to probation if Collins agreed to testify truthfully against defendant.
Judge Mark H. Sandson denied defendant's motion. In a written opinion, the judge noted that the argument being advanced as a basis for a new trial had previously been advanced in his second application for post-conviction relief, which was previously denied. The judge additionally observed that in defendant's direct appeal, the appellate panel noted that Collins testified she had been convicted of drug-related charges, had originally been sentenced to 364 days incarceration, and that her custodial sentence was later reduced. Judge Sandson concluded:
The point is that Collins' cooperation with the prosecutor's office was no secret despite the [d]efendant's claims. Second, it was noted on the record that four eyewitnesses testified that the [d]efendant shot Taylor in front of a group of onlookers. The evidence against the [d]efendant was overwhelming, and it was noted specifically and inferentially that Collins' testimony was incapable of raising reversible or remedial ...