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State v. Cardona

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

December 27, 2013

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
LEONARD CARDONA, a/k/a LENNY CARDON, Defendant-Appellant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted December 11, 2013.

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County, Indictment No. 04-12-4890.

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (David A. Gies, Designated Counsel, on the briefs).

Warren W. Faulk, Camden County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Patrick D. Isbill, Assistant Prosecutor, of counsel and on the brief).

Before Judges Waugh and Accurso.

PER CURIAM.

Defendant Leonard Cardona appeals the Law Division's November 18, 2011 order dismissing his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.

I.

We discern the following facts and procedural background from the record on appeal.

In December 2004, Cardona was indicted for first-degree murder, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(1) and (2) (count one); first-degree felony murder, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(3) (count two); first-degree armed robbery, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (count three); second-degree burglary, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2 (count four); third-degree conspiracy to commit murder, robbery, and/or burglary, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(1) & (2), N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1, and N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2(a) (count five); second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a) (count six); third-degree unlawful possession of weapons, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b) (count seven); second-degree aggravated assault, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(1) (count eight); and fourth-degree aggravated assault, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(4) (count nine).

On August 26, 2005, Cardona appeared in court to accept a plea offer under which count one would be amended to aggravated manslaughter, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4(a), and the State would recommend a sentence of incarceration for nineteen years, [1] subject to the provisions of the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. The remaining charges were to be dismissed. The trial judge rejected the plea because Cardona did not give an adequate factual basis.

On September 9, Cardona again appeared in court, this time to accept a plea offer that called for incarceration for seventeen years, also subject to NERA. He admitted that he forced his way into the home of the victim on November 17, 2003, at which time he and his co-defendant were wearing dark clothing and masks. During the course of the ensuing robbery, the victim was killed. Cardona admitted that he knew his co-defendant was armed and that he knew "that somebody could have been injured." The judge accepted the guilty plea based on that factual basis.

At sentencing on October 21, defense counsel did not argue for a reduced sentence or propose mitigating factors. The judge found two aggravating factors[2] and no mitigating factors. He ...


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