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Criminal Procedure Keyed to Miller
State v. Edwin Urbina
Citation:115 A.3d 261 (N.J. 2015)
Edwin Urbina (defendant) shot and killed Edwin Torres. To avoid being charged with first-degree murder, Urbina entered into a plea agreement with the State: he agreed to plead guilty to one count of first-degree aggravated manslaughter in exchange for the State’s recommendation of a sentence not to exceed 17 and a half years imprisonment and five years of post-release parole.
At the plea hearing, the defense counsel questioned Urbina to establish the factual basis for his plea. During this exchange, Urbina stated that Torres and his cousin had pulled out their firearms first and he took his handgun out as an act of self-defense. He claimed he did not intend to kill Torres but that his handgun was automatic and six bullets struck Torres. Urbina’s counsel and the prosecutor, however, stated that no handgun was found on the victim. The prosecutor asked to amend the plea agreement to show a waiver of self-defense as part of the plea. The judge asked Urbina if he understood that, by pleading guilty, he waived self-defense. Urbina responded that he understood, and the court accepted his guilty plea. Urbina later appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in accepting his guilty plea because the factual basis indicated he was asserting a complete defense.
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