NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 11, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County, Docket No. 05-06-0939.
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (William Welaj, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
Gaetano T. Gregory, Acting Hudson County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Miriam L. Acevedo, Special Deputy Attorney General/ Acting Assistant Prosecutor, on the brief).
Appellant filed a pro se supplemental brief.
Before Judges Waugh and Nugent.
Defendant Mitchell West appeals the Law Division's July 15, 2011 order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.
We discern the following facts and procedural history from the record on appeal.
In 2006, West was convicted of first-degree attempted murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1 and 2C:11-3, second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a), and third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b). Because West was a second-time Graves Act offender, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(c), he was subject to a mandatory extended-term sentence for the attempted murder. The trial judge imposed a sentence of incarceration for thirty years, subject to the eighty-five percent parole ineligibility period required by the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. The judge merged the unlawful possession of a weapon conviction into the conviction for possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and imposed a concurrent ten-year sentence with five years of parole ineligibility.
In our opinion on West's direct appeal, we summarized the facts underlying West's convictions as follows:
On February 17, 2005, at approximately 5:25 p.m., the Jersey City police responded to a 9-1-1 call from Rashon Ponder, who stated that he had been shot. Ponder was found in his car at the curb in the vicinity of Atlantic and Bergen Avenues. He had been shot multiple times. Detective Kevin Guy asked Ponder if he knew who shot him. Ponder nodded his head yes, but refused to identify the shooter.
Shortly thereafter, paramedics arrived and, after examining Ponder, informed the police that he was likely to die from his wounds. When Ponder was informed of his status, he again refused to disclose the name of the shooter. However, on April 10, 2005, Ponder, who survived, disclosed to the police that his shooter was [West]. Ponder told the police that he had initially refused to identify [West] because he was "afraid of dying, " that he was "still in shock" and that he was "afraid of West." [West] was arrested on April 26, 2005.
One year after the shooting, on February 17, 2006, [West's] former girlfriend, Shamia Henderson, provided the police with additional corroborative evidence of [West's] identity, stating that in mid or late February, 2005, [West] had bragged to her that he had "handled business for his brother." "He shot up the guy ...