NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 7, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County, Indictment No. 95-03-0399.
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Steven M. Gilson, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
Gaetano T. Gregory, Acting Hudson County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Miriam Acevedo, Special Deputy Attorney General/Acting Assistant Prosecutor, on the brief).
Before Judges Harris and Kennedy.
Defendant Eduardo Vargas appeals from the Law Division's denial of his application for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.
On January 16, 1996, after entering into a plea arrangement, Vargas was convicted of first-degree aggravated manslaughter, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4, and second-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(1). Pursuant to the plea, Vargas was sentenced to an aggregate term of forty years with fifteen years of parole ineligibility. On October 8, 1997, we affirmed the sentence at an Excessive Sentencing Oral Argument calendar. R. 2:9-11.
On May 13, 2010, Vargas filed a pro se application for PCR. In his brief, Vargas contended that he understood the contours of the sentence to be as follows:
[Vargas] would be sentenced to 30 years with a mandatory minimum of 15 years on the aggravated manslaughter, and with a concurrent 10-year term on the aggravated assault. It was explained to defendant that the sentences would run together and that the 15-year mandatory minimum was required.
He asserted that "back in 1994 and 1995" he did not "fully understand the English language, " and he was misled at the time of the plea due to the confusing use of the words, "'concurrent, ' 'consecutive, ' 'flat, ' and the bottom line parole ineligibility being 15 years."
Vargas further contended that after serving the fifteen-year parole disqualifier, "the parole board imposed an additional 10-year future eligibility term which is the maximum of the second sentence that the Court ordered as a 'flat' sentence and which [he] was under the impression that it would run together with the thirty years." The realization that he would have to serve more than fifteen years was the impetus for his PCR application, and was the basis for ...