NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE
APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
This opinion shall not "constitute precedent or be binding upon any court." Although it is posted on the
internet, this opinion is binding only on the parties in the case and its use in other cases is limited. R. 1:36-3.
SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY
DOCKET NO. A-1007-18T1
STATE OF NEW JERSEY,
AMALIA MIRASOLA, a/k/a
AMALIA ACEVEDO, AMALI
MIRASOLA, and AMALIA
Argued November 18, 2019 – Decided December 4, 2019
Before Judges Fasciale and Mitterhoff.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law
Division, Morris County, Indictment No. 11-02-0201.
Ruth Elizabeth Hunter, Designated Counsel, argued the
cause for appellant (Joseph E. Krakora, Public
Defender; attorney; Ruth Elizabeth Hunter on the
John K. McNamara, Jr., Chief Assistant Prosecutor,
argued the cause for respondent (Fredric M. Knapp,
Morris County Prosecutor, attorney; John K.
McNamara, Jr., on the brief).
Defendant appeals from a July 12, 2018 order denying her petition for
post-conviction relief (PCR). 1 Defendant maintains that her trial counsel
rendered ineffective assistance. The PCR judge entered the order and rendered
a twenty-four page written opinion.
On appeal, defendant raises the following arguments:
THE PCR [JUDGE] SHOULD HAVE ALLOWED
DEFENDANT TIME TO OBTAIN CRITICAL
MEDICAL RECORDS AND ADDITIONAL
FUNDING FROM THE OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC
DEFENDER FOR AN EXPERT BECAUSE EXPERT
SERVICES WERE NECESSARY FOR HER
THE PCR [JUDGE] ERRED IN DENYING THE
PETITION WITHOUT AN EVIDENTIARY
HEARING BECAUSE DEFENDANT
"PRESENT[ED] A REASONABLE BASIS TO BE
PERMITTED A HEARING TO EXPLORE FURTHER
1 In January 2013, a jury found defendant guilty of first-degree murder, N.J.S.A.
2C:11-3(a)(1) and (a)(2); and second-degree possession of a weapon for an
unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a). We affirmed the convictions, State v.
Mirasola, No. A-3639-12 (App. Div. Nov. 25, 2015) (slip op. at 1), and the
Supreme Court denied certification, State v. Mirasola, 224 N.J. 526 (2016).
THE POSSIBILITY OF" MENTAL DEFENSES. SEE
STATE v. HARRIS, 181 N.J. 391, 528 (2004).
We conclude that these arguments lack sufficient merit to warrant discus sion in
a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(2). We affirm substantially for the reasons set
forth by the PCR judge in her well-reasoned written decision and add the
following brief remarks.
A defendant is entitled to an evidentiary hearing only when he or she "has
presented a prima facie [case] in support of [PCR]," State v. Marshall, 148 N.J.
89, 158 (1997) (first alteration in original) (emphasis omitted) (quoting State v.
Preciose, 129 N.J. 451, 462 (1992)), meaning that a "defendant must
demonstrate a reasonable likelihood that his or her claim will ultimately succeed
on the merits." Ibid. For a defendant to obtain relief based on ineffective
assistance grounds, he or she is obliged to show not only the particular manner
in which counsel's performance was deficient, but also that the deficiency
prejudiced his or her right to a fair trial. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668,
687 (1984); State v. Fritz, 105 N.J. 42, 58 (1987) (adopting the Strickland two-
part test in New Jersey, now known as the Strickland/Fritz test). Defendant has
failed to present such a prima facie case of ineffectiveness.
It is undisputed that defendant possessed the gun and shot and killed her
husband. The question for the jury was whether she did so purposefully and
knowingly or whether it was in self-defense. Mirasola, slip op. at 4. Although
defendant contends that she lacked the mental capacity to commit the murder
and therefore that her trial counsel failed to develop such a defense, trial counsel
employed strategy by utilizing the defense of self-defense. Indeed, trial counsel
investigated the possibility of a diminished capacity defense and consulted with
experts, but was unable to produce any experts, medical records, or evidence at
trial to demonstrate that defendant shot her husband because of her purported
Defendant also maintains that her trial counsel failed to develop her
defenses of self-defense and defense of others. But the PCR judge—agreeing
with the State that defense counsel "followed the necessary protocol" as to the
defense—pointed out that the jury rejected defendant's theory. The PCR judge
also agreed with the State that not testing the blood on defendant's clothes would
not have supported a self-defense claim, particularly because defendant had no
wounds, bruising, or scarring the morning after the murder. And as to the
defense of others contention, the jury heard evidence that defendant allowed her
daughter and her husband to travel together—overnight—despite defendant's
purported concerns about her husband abusing their daughter. The jury also
heard evidence that defendant shot her husband hours after their daughter told
him to "[g]et off me," and after defendant and her husband watched television
Finally, in April 2016, defendant filed her petition for PCR. Her PCR
counsel withdrew the petition without prejudice and re-filed it in March 2018.
The PCR judge conducted oral argument and rendered her written decision in
July 2018. There was no request to adjourn the oral argument, and defendant's
contention that the judge should have given her more time to prepare for the
PCR argument is without merit.