Woman who killed Atlantic City tourists says guilty plea wasn’t ‘knowing and intelligent'
Updated: May 15
A homeless woman who admitted to fatally stabbing two Atlantic City visitors in 2012 will get another day in court. Antionette Pelzer, now 50, was sentenced to two consecutive 40-year terms in the killing of Po Lin Wan, 80, and her youngest daughter, Alice Mei See Leung, 47. The two women were walking down Pacific Avenue at about 10 a.m. May 21, 2012, when Pelzer rushed up to them with a 13-inch butcher knife and began stabbing them. Officer Jacob Abbruscato was driving by and was able to disarm the woman in seconds. The women were rushed to the nearby hospital — whose cameras captured the attack — and pronounced dead. Pelzer, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 24, pleaded guilty in August 2013. She was sentenced two months later. But in a motion for post-conviction relief she filed on her own in the summer of 2015, Pelzer said “her guilty plea was not ‘knowing and intelligent,’ because her trial attorney did not explain to her ‘the terms and ramifications’ of the state’s plea offer or the ‘elements of the crimes’” for which she was admitting guilty, the appellate panel wrote. While a post-conviction relief motion argued by an attorney was considered — and turned down — the judge did not consider the pro se motion, likely because the attorney did not reference it either in his formal brief nor in court, the judges wrote. “PCR counsel had an obligation to bring to the court’s attention defendant’s pro se arguments, and the court had an obligation to consider them,” the judges wrote. They did confirm the judge’s decision to reject the attorney-presented arguments. It was not clear when Pelzer would get a new court date. She is currently in the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Clinton, where she still has almost 63 years until she could be released. Pelzer originally tried for a plea of guilty by reason of insanity, but an evaluation found she did know right from wrong at the time of the killings — a prerequisite for such a plea.