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State v. Cook

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

June 21, 2013

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
ROBERT COOK, a/k/a LITTLE RAH, ROBERT QUENTIN COOK, ROBERT QUINTIN COOK, Defendant-Appellant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted May 22, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment No. 04-03-1113.

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Steven M. Gilson, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

Carolyn A. Murray, Acting Essex County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Sara A. Friedman, Special Deputy Attorney General/Acting Assistant Prosecutor, of counsel and on the brief).

Before Judges Grall and Simonelli.

PER CURIAM

Defendant Robert Cook appeals from the September 26, 2011 Law Division order, which denied his petition for post- conviction relief (PCR) grounded on the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm.

Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted of first-degree murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1), (2); third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b; and second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a. The charges stemmed from the death of Reginald Taylor after he was shot in the head at point blank range while standing on a street in Irvington. At trial, two eyewitnesses identified defendant as the shooter, one of whom recognized defendant from the neighborhood.

The trial judge sentenced defendant to a fifty-year term of imprisonment subject to an eighty-five-percent period of parole ineligibility pursuant to the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. The judge also imposed the appropriate assessments, fee and penalty and ordered defendant to pay restitution in the amount of $7141.

Defendant appealed his conviction and sentence. We affirmed the conviction, but vacated the sentence and remanded for resentencing. State v. Cook, No. A-0727-06 (App. Div. Apr. 3, 2009). Our Supreme Court denied certification. State v. Cook, 200 N.J. 207 (2009).

Defendant timely filed a PCR petition, claiming in a supporting certification that trial counsel did not adequately review discovery with him and prepare him to testify, and advised him not to testify and did not advise him that he could testify despite that advice. In a September 7, 2011 oral decision, the trial judge denied the petition without a hearing. The judge reviewed the colloquy that occurred during the trial about defendant's right to testify:

THE COURT: Mr. Cook, could you stand please? Could we have ...

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