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State v. Marino

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

May 21, 2019

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v.
DANIEL YAIR MARINO

          Heard in the Court of Appeals 28 February 2019.

          Appeal by Defendant from an Order entered 26 January 2018 by Judge Susan E. Bray in Guilford County, Nos. 13 CRS 82502-03 Superior Court.

          Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General Kristin J. Uicker, for the State.

          Appellate Defender Glenn Gerding, by Assistant Appellate Defender James R. Grant, for defendant-appellant.

          HAMPSON, JUDGE

         Factual and Procedural Background

         This matter involves a Motion for Appropriate Relief (MAR) filed by Daniel Yair Marino (Defendant) on 25 October 2017, seeking relief from criminal convictions. The Record based upon the proceedings on the MAR below tends to show the following relevant facts:

         On 16 September 2013, a Guilford County Grand Jury indicted Defendant for one count of Trafficking in Cocaine, a Class D felony; two counts of Trafficking in Marijuana, Class H felonies; one count of Possession with Intent to Sell or Deliver Marijuana, a Class I felony; and one count of Maintaining a Dwelling for the Keeping or Selling of Marijuana and Cocaine, a Class I felony. Pursuant to a plea arrangement, Defendant entered an Alford plea to the charged offenses on 11 June 2015. The terms and conditions of the parties' plea agreement provided:

1. That the charges shall be consolidated [under the Class D Trafficking in Cocaine charge] for judgment purposes.
2.That prayer for judgment shall be continued until on or after the criminal term beginning pursuant to [ N.C. Gen. Stat. §] 90-95(h)(5). That the defendant agrees, if called upon by the State, to provide truthful testimony against any charged co-defendant in these matters.
3. That upon the State's prayer for judgment, the Court shall impose any additional terms deemed appropriate.

         Approximately 19 months later, the State prayed for entry of judgment against Defendant. The trial court held Defendant's sentencing hearing on 4 January 2017. At this hearing, the State and defense counsel were given the opportunity to present arguments regarding Defendant's sentence. The State informed the trial court that Defendant had provided the State with "substantial assistance" within the meaning of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-95(h)(5), [1] and Defendant's counsel urged the trial court to consider Defendant's efforts when sentencing Defendant.

         After finding Defendant provided substantial assistance to the State, the trial court sentenced Defendant to an active term of a minimum of 48 months and a maximum of 70 months, and ordered Defendant to pay a $25, 000 fine. This sentence was substantially lower than the sentence Defendant would have received had he not provided substantial assistance to the State, which the trial court acknowledged was a minimum of 175 months and a maximum of 222 months, plus a $250, 000 fine. The written Judgment was entered on 6 January 2017; however, there was a clerical error in this Judgment, which was corrected by written Judgment on 27 February 2017.

         On 25 October 2017, Defendant filed a MAR requesting the trial court set aside the sentence imposed on Defendant. According to Defendant's MAR, the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enter the sentence because of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1331.2, which requires the trial court enter final judgment on certain high-level felonies, including Class D felonies, within 12 months of the trial court entering a prayer for judgment continued (PJC). After hearing arguments from the State and defense counsel, the trial court issued an Order denying Defendant's MAR (MAR Order) on 26 January 2018. In its MAR Order, the trial court concluded Section 15A-1331.2 does not mention jurisdiction and that a violation of this statute does not divest the trial court of jurisdiction to enter judgment on a PJC after 12 months. Defendant petitioned this Court for a Writ of Certiorari to review the MAR Order. We granted Defendant's Petition for the purpose of granting Defendant an appeal. Defendant has prosecuted his appeal, and we now review the merits of his argument.

         Issue

         The sole issue on appeal is whether Section 15A-1331.2 of our General Statutes divested the trial court of jurisdiction to enter Judgment on ...


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