NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 18, 2013.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment No. 03-09-3003.
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Thomas G. Hand, 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 Lihotz, Maven and Hoffman.
Defendant Jude Phillips appeals from the July 14, 2011 Law Division order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
We need not repeat at length the salient facts that are detailed in our unpublished opinion affirming defendant's first-degree aggravated manslaughter conviction, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4a. State v. Phillips, No. A-1307-05 (App. Div. August 23, 2007), certif. denied, 195 N.J. 520 (2008).
Defendant's offenses arise from the November 22, 2002 fatal stabbing of Joan Joaquin in her Verona apartment, which was then set on fire. Defendant, a cable technician, went to Joaquin's apartment to install internet services two days before her murder. That day, defendant encountered a complication and requested that a specialist complete the work on November 22, 2002. On that date, defendant declined assignments from his supervisor, stating he was going to "finish a prior job" relating to "a computer problem."
The police soon identified defendant as a suspect in the murder investigation. Four days later, the police arrested defendant for driving while on the revoked list and transported him to the station for questioning. According to the State, defendant received and waived his Miranda rights. While defendant initially denied his presence at the victim's apartment on the date of the murder, he would eventually handwrite a confession and then sign a typed confession.
Defendant was indicted for murder, second-degree arson, and related offenses. He moved to suppress his confession, alleging the police coerced and beat the confession out of him. At a suppression hearing, all four officers denied using any form of coercion against defendant. The motion was denied.
The first trial resulted in a hung jury. Upon retrial, defendant was convicted of the lesser included offense of aggravated manslaughter, along with arson and unlawful possession of a weapon. Defendant was sentenced to consecutive sentences resulting in an aggregate term of thirty-four years imprisonment, with a No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, eighty-five percent period of parole ineligibility.
Defendant appealed from his judgment of conviction, claiming prosecutorial misconduct and trial error. Defendant did not challenge the denial of his ...