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State v. Conway

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

July 3, 2013

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
GINA MARIE CONWAY a/k/a GINA MARIA CONWAY, Defendant-Appellant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted November 28, 2012

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Indictment No. 07-06-1109.

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Monique Moyse, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

John L. Molinelli, Bergen County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Catherine A. Foddai, Senior Assistant Prosecutor, of counsel and on the brief).

Before Judges Axelrad and Nugent.

PER CURIAM

Following the denial of her motion to suppress the inculpatory statement she gave to law enforcement authorities, defendant Gina Marie Conway pled guilty to manslaughter and armed robbery, and was sentenced to an aggregate fifteen-year prison term subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. Defendant contends that her suppression motion should have been granted and that her sentence is excessive. We affirm.

On September 22, 2006, defendant and one of two co-defendants, Kelvin Leerdam, went to a hotel room in Fort Lee, where they bound, gagged and robbed Allan Plowden and Giselle Nieves.[1] Leerdam shot and killed a third victim, David Taylor. Six days later, on September 28, 2006, at approximately 12:35 a.m., police officers arrested defendant in a New York City subway. The officers transported defendant to a New York detective precinct where they questioned her from 1:00 a.m. to 4:50 a.m. Defendant gave a lengthy, inculpatory statement.

A Bergen County grand jury charged defendant and two co-defendants in a twelve-count indictment with first-degree murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(1) and (2) (count one); first-degree felony murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(3) (counts two and seven); first-degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (counts three, four, and five); second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 and 2C:15-1(b) (count six); first-degree kidnapping, N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1(b) (counts eight and nine); second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39- 4(a) (count ten); and third-degree possession of a handgun without a permit, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b) (count eleven). In the same indictment, the grand jury also charged a fourth person, Turon Gholston, with receiving stolen property, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7 (count twelve).

Defendant subsequently filed a motion to suppress her statement, which the court denied. Thereafter, she negotiated a guilty plea. She agreed to plead guilty to count one of the indictment as amended to manslaughter, and to count three of the indictment. She also agreed to testify truthfully at the trial of the co-defendants. In exchange, the State agreed to recommend an eighteen-year sentence subject to NERA. As promised, defendant testified at the trial of the co-defendants.

At sentencing, the court found as aggravating factors: number three, the risk that defendant would commit another offense based on her use of marijuana, some experimentation with cocaine, and her arrest record, which included three prior arrests; number six, the extent of her prior record, including two prior drug-related convictions; and number nine, the need to deter. N.J.S.A. 2C:4-1(3), (6) and (9). The court also found mitigating factor number twelve, her willingness to cooperate with law enforcement authorities by testifying at the co-defendants' trial. N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1b(12). After balancing the aggravating and mitigating factors, the court imposed a seven-year prison term on count one with an eighty-five percent period of parole ineligibility as required by NERA, and a concurrent fifteen-year sentence with an eighty-five percent period of parole ineligibility as required by NERA on count two. The court also imposed appropriate assessments and penalties. The court denied defendant's motion for reconsideration. This appeal followed.

Defendant argues two ...


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