M ORE L AW
LEXAPEDIA
Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esto

Information
About MoreLaw
Contact MoreLaw

Please E-mail suggested additions, comments and/or corrections to Kent@MoreLaw.Com.

Help support the publication of case reports on MoreLaw

Date: 01-01-2018

Case Style:

STATE OF OHIO v. JARELLE N. GUICE

Case Number: 16CA011054

Judge: Consuelo María "Connie" Callahan

Court: IN THE COURT OF APPEALS NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT

Plaintiff's Attorney: DENNIS P. WILL, Prosecuting Attorney, and NATASHA RUIZ GUERRIERI, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney

Defendant's Attorney: STEPHEN P. HANUDEL

Description: Late one evening, Mr. Guice ignored a police officer’s signal to stop his car and
led the officer on a brief car chase. At the time, Mr. Guice was the subject of a BOLO (“be on
the lookout”) because he had threatened his ex-girlfriend several hours earlier. The chase ended
when Mr. Guice, having driven to the duplex community where his ex-girlfriend was staying,
crashed his car into a neighboring unit. When the officer following him arrived a few seconds
later, Mr. Guice fired a gun in the direction of the officer’s cruiser, causing the officer to retreat.
Mr. Guice then broke into the duplex unit where his ex-girlfriend was staying, held the gun to his
head, and threatened suicide.
2


{¶3} Multiple officers responded to the scene and ultimately cornered Mr. Guice in an
outside area. A standoff then ensued and lasted for approximately twenty minutes. During the
standoff, Mr. Guice threatened suicide and repeatedly encouraged officers to shoot him. Though
officers continuously commanded him to drop his weapon and attempted to calm him, Mr. Guice
ignored their attempts at intervention and ultimately stated that “he was going to kill a f***ing
cop tonight.” Four officers were standing in a group to the north of Mr. Guice, and two of those
officers were armed with a shotgun and an assault rifle. Within two minutes of declaring his
intention to kill a police officer, Mr. Guice commented on the size of those officers’ guns, turned
toward their group, and fired his gun in their direction. Multiple officers then returned fire,
subdued Mr. Guice, and ended the standoff.
{¶4} A grand jury indicted Mr. Guice on four counts of attempted aggravated murder,
five counts of felonious assault, five counts of assault, and one count each of attempted murder,
aggravated burglary, having a weapon under disability, receiving stolen property, inducing panic,
obstructing official business, and criminal damaging. Nineteen of Mr. Guice’s counts contained
attendant firearm specifications. Additionally, his felonious assault and assault counts were
charged as higher-level felonies due to the presence of an enhancing element (i.e., that the
victims were peace officers).
{¶5} A jury trial took place and, at its conclusion, the State dismissed the receiving
stolen property count. The jury then deliberated on the remaining counts and specifications and
found Mr. Guice guilty. The court merged all of his felonious assault and assault counts into his
attempted aggravated murder and attempted murder counts and ultimately sentenced him to a
total of 15 years in prison.
3


{¶6} Mr. Guice now appeals from his convictions and raises six assignments of error
for this Court’s review. For ease of analysis, this Court consolidates several of his assignments
of error.
II.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 1
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY NOT DISMISSING THE ATTEMPTED AGGRAVATED MURDER AND ATTEMPTED MURDER COUNTS (1-5) PURSUANT TO CRIM. R. 29 BECAUSE THE EVIDENCE WAS INSUFFICIENT AS TO [MR.] GUICE’S INTENT TO KILL.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 2
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY NOT DISMISSING THE ATTEMPTED AGGRAVATED MURDER COUNTS 1-4 PURSUANT TO CRIM. R. 29 BECAUSE THE EVIDENCE WAS INSUFFICIENT AS TO [MR.] GUICE’S PRIOR CALCULATION AND DESIGN.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 3
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY NOT DISMISSING THE AGGRAVATED BURGLARY CHARGE PURSUANT TO CRIM. R. 29 BECAUSE THE EVIDENCE WAS INSUFFICIENT AS TO [MR.] GUICE’S INTENT TO COMMIT A CRIME WITHIN THE OCCUPIED STRUCTURE.
{¶7} In the foregoing assignments of error, Mr. Guice argues that the trial court erred
by denying his Crim.R. 29 motion because several of his convictions are based on insufficient
evidence. This Court disagrees.
{¶8} “‘[This Court] review[s] a denial of a defendant’s Crim.R. 29 motion for acquittal
by assessing the sufficiency of the State’s evidence.’” State v. Bulls, 9th Dist. Summit No.
27029, 2015-Ohio-276, ¶ 6, quoting State v. Frashuer, 9th Dist. Summit No. 24769, 2010-Ohio
634, ¶ 33. Whether the evidence in a case is legally sufficient to sustain a conviction is a
question of law that this Court reviews de novo. State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 386
(1997).
4


An appellate court’s function when reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a criminal conviction is to examine the evidence admitted at trial to determine whether such evidence, if believed, would convince the average mind of the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The relevant inquiry is whether, after viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
State v. Jenks, 61 Ohio St.3d 259 (1991), paragraph two of the syllabus. “In essence, sufficiency
is a test of adequacy.” Thompkins at 386.
{¶9} A defendant commits aggravated murder if he purposely causes the death of
another “with prior calculation and design.” R.C. 2903.01(A). “‘Prior calculation and design’
denotes ‘sufficient time and opportunity for the planning of an act of homicide * * *’ coupled
with circumstances that demonstrate ‘a scheme designed to implement the calculated decision to
kill * * *.’” State v. Powell, 9th Dist. Summit No. 28170, 2017-Ohio-5629, ¶ 9, quoting State v.
Cotton, 56 Ohio St.2d 8 (1978), paragraph three of the syllabus. “While a few fleeting moments
of deliberation or instantaneous deliberations are inadequate to support prior calculation and
design, ‘a prolonged period of deliberation is [also] unnecessary.’” State v. Hairston, 9th Dist.
Lorain No. 05CA008768, 2006-Ohio-4925, ¶ 80, quoting Taylor v. Mitchell, 296 F.Supp.2d 784,
821 (N.D.Ohio 2003). In determining whether an individual acted with prior calculation and
design, courts consider the totality of the circumstances. State v. Guerra, 9th Dist. Lorain No.
12CA010188, 2013-Ohio-5367, ¶ 6.
{¶10} In the absence of prior calculation and design, purposeful killing constitutes
murder. R.C. 2903.02(A). “A person acts purposely when it is his specific intention to cause a
certain result, or, when the gist of the offense is a prohibition against conduct of a certain nature,
regardless of what [he] intends to accomplish thereby, it is his specific intention to engage in
conduct of that nature.” Former R.C. 2901.22(A). The attempt statute prohibits any person from
5


“purposely or knowingly * * * engag[ing] in conduct that, if successful, would constitute or
result in [an] offense.” R.C. 2923.02(A).
{¶11} The aggravated burglary statute prohibits any person, “by force, stealth, or
deception,” from
trespass[ing] in an occupied structure * * * when another person other than an accomplice of the offender is present, with purpose to commit in the structure * * * any criminal offense, if * * * [he] has a deadly weapon * * * on or about [his] person or under [his] control.
(Emphasis added.) R.C. 2911.11(A)(2). To satisfy the italicized portion of the statute, the State
relied on Mr. Guice’s obstructing official business count. A person obstructs official business
when he, “without privilege to do so and with purpose to prevent, obstruct, or delay the
performance by a public official of any authorized act within the public official’s official
capacity, [does] any act that hampers or impedes a public official in the performance of the
public official’s lawful duties.” R.C. 2921.31(A). Obstructing official business is a fifth-degree
felony if, while committing the offense, the offender “creates a risk of physical harm to any
person * * *.” R.C. 2921.31(B).
{¶12} Officer Wesley Fordyce testified that, on June 2, 2012, he met with Mr. Guice’s
ex-girlfriend because Mr. Guice had been harassing her. He learned that she and Mr. Guice had
recently ended their relationship, but that Mr. Guice was still contacting her, claiming she owed
him money. Mr. Guice’s ex-girlfriend told Officer Fordyce that Mr. Guice wanted to meet with
her and became very upset when she refused. She described how Mr. Guice “began calling her
and threatening her and saying he was going to kill her the next time he saw her.” Following his
conversation with the ex-girlfriend, Officer Fordyce filed a report and advised her to follow up
with the prosecutor’s office.
6


{¶13} A.B. was friends with Mr. Guice and his ex-girlfriend and lived in a “four-way
duplex” along with her two children. The day after Mr. Guice’s ex-girlfriend spoke with Officer
Fordyce, she was staying with A.B. A.B. testified that she had invited the ex-girlfriend to stay
with her because the ex-girlfriend and Mr. Guice’s “on-again-off-again” relationship had yet
again ended. A.B. testified that Mr. Guice came to her home that day because he wanted to talk
to his ex-girlfriend. Mr. Guice was “pretty mad” at the time and began kicking the door when he
was refused entry. Although A.B. attempted to calm Mr. Guice by talking to him through the
door, she indicated that he then became even angrier and began making threats. She specified
that he threatened to “shoot up [her] house” and “beat[] [his ex-girlfriend’s] ass.” In response to
Mr. Guice’s arrival, the ex-girlfriend called the police. A.B. stated that Mr. Guice left before the
police arrived.
{¶14} Officer Randall Leiby was dispatched to A.B.’s home at approximately 8:50 p.m.
as a result of the ex-girlfriend’s call. He spoke with both the ex-girlfriend and A.B., and the ex
girlfriend ultimately signed a complaint against Mr. Guice for a temporary protection order. As
a result of the incident, a BOLO was issued for Mr. Guice. Officer Leiby testified that the
BOLO included a description of Mr. Guice and of his car.
{¶15} At some point after the police left her home, A.B. heard a loud noise. She looked
out her front window to identify the source of the noise and saw that a car had driven through her
next door neighbor’s front door. She then heard someone knocking on her own front door and
realized it was Mr. Guice. A.B. testified that she watched through the window as a police car
arrived. Gun shots then rang out, and A.B. saw the police car back away. She testified that, a
few seconds later, Mr. Guice broke through her back door patio slider.
7


{¶16} Directly before Mr. Guice arrived, Officer Adam Ehrke had spotted his car.
Officer Ehrke was familiar with the BOLO that had been issued for Mr. Guice, recognized his
car from the description contained therein, and attempted to stop it. When he signaled for Mr.
Guice to stop, however, Mr. Guice accelerated and tried to elude him. The officer then pursued
Mr. Guice and informed dispatch of the situation. There was evidence that the pursuit began a
few minutes after 10:30 p.m.
{¶17} Officer Ehrke chased Mr. Guice from a moderate distance and saw him make a
left-hand turn into the parking lot that served A.B.’s duplex. He followed, but briefly lost sight
of Mr. Guice’s car when it turned. As Officer Ehrke pulled into the parking lot and drove
towards A.B.’s duplex, he saw that Mr. Guice’s car had crashed into one of the neighboring
duplex units. He had time to register the fact that the driver’s door was hanging open and the
car’s horn was blaring before he noticed a dark figure standing in a nearby doorway. He then
saw a muzzle flash and heard a gunshot before two additional shots were fired. Officer Ehrke
testified that he immediately ducked down, put his car into reverse, and radioed that shots had
been fired.
{¶18} Officer Ehrke’s dashcam recording captured a dark figure firing a gun from a
nearby doorway. Though the recording showed that two of the three shots fired struck the
pavement in front of Officer Ehrke’s cruiser as he backed away, evidence technicians found
three points of impact on his cruiser. The first round penetrated the cruiser’s lower left bumper.
The second round skipped off its left fender and struck the A-frame nearest the windshield on the
driver’s side. The third round struck the rear passenger’s door on the driver’s side three inches
from the bottom of the cruiser.
8


{¶19} A.B. testified that, after she saw the police car retreat, Mr. Guice used the butt of
a gun to break through her back door patio slider. Once inside, he then put the gun to his head.
Because A.B.’s children were home at the time, she quickly ran to them and took them outside.
She testified that she then went back inside because Mr. Guice had shut himself in a bedroom
with his ex-girlfriend. After A.B. banged on the bedroom door, the ex-girlfriend ran out, and she
and A.B. ran outside.
{¶20} Mr. Guice’s ex-girlfriend confirmed that, on June 3rd, she signed a complaint for
a temporary protection order against Mr. Guice. Not long after, Mr. Guice crashed his car into
the unit next door to A.B.’s and broke into her home with a gun. The ex-girlfriend testified that
Mr. Guice held the gun to his head and repeatedly threatened to kill himself, so she ran to an
upstairs bedroom. Mr. Guice followed her there and paced back and forth with the gun to his
head. She then ran from the room and outside to where the police were waiting.
{¶21} Multiple officers responded when Officer Ehrke radioed that Mr. Guice was
attempting to flee and that shots had been fired. Officer Ehrke remained on scene after Mr.
Guice ran into A.B.’s duplex. He testified that he repositioned his cruiser and was on foot when
Mr. Guice exited the back of the duplex. At the time, Mr. Guice was still holding a gun. Though
Officer Ehrke repeatedly ordered Mr. Guice to drop his weapon and get on the ground, Mr.
Guice began to walk to the south. Officer Ehrke then heard another officer yelling at Mr. Guice
from the opposite side of the building. Because several more officers also arrived, Officer Ehrke
dropped back and moved to a different location.
{¶22} Officers Craig Payne and Jarrod Nighswander were two of the first officers to
respond to Officer Ehrke’s radio transmissions. Officer Payne was a canine handler and had his
canine with him when he approached the area of A.B.’s apartment on foot. He testified that,
9


when he first saw Mr. Guice, Mr. Guice was standing outside holding a gun down at his side.
Because many people had come outside to see what was happening, Officer Payne began
screaming for them to back away while he moved forward. As he confronted Mr. Guice, Mr.
Guice placed the gun to his head and began walking backwards, disregarding Officer Payne’s
commands to stop and drop the gun. Mr. Guice continued to move to the south until he
eventually backed himself into an area on the west side of a nearby duplex. Specifically, he
backed himself into the corner of a backwards L-shaped area that protruded from the side of the
duplex. Meanwhile, Officer Payne positioned himself and his canine to the north, taking cover
behind the rear corner of another duplex. Officer Payne testified that he kept his canine with him
during his encounter with Mr. Guice because Mr. Guice threatened to shoot the canine if Officer
Payne released him.
{¶23} When Officer Nighswander first arrived on scene, he saw Officer Ehrke from
behind, pointing his gun at someone and issuing commands. He then stationed himself at the
corner of a nearby building and saw Mr. Guice holding a gun to his head. Officer Nighswander
testified that Mr. Guice moved the gun several times, placing it at his temple, in his mouth, and
under his chin. He stated that he and other officers repeatedly ordered Mr. Guice to drop the
gun, but Mr. Guice began walking away from them. Meanwhile, Officer Nighswander screamed
for citizens congregating in the area to leave. As he moved forward, Officer Nighswander took
cover alongside Officer Payne.
{¶24} Two additional officers ultimately took cover alongside Officers Payne and
Nighswander: Officers Randall Leiby and Matthew Bonkoski. Officer Leiby was carrying a
twelve gauge shotgun, and Officer Bonkoski was carrying an assault rifle. There was evidence
that a standoff with Mr. Guice ensued and lasted for approximately twenty minutes, ending a few
10


minutes after 11:00 p.m. During the standoff, Mr. Guice threatened to kill himself as officers
attempted to calm him. Several officers described him as very agitated, noting that he was
continually moving in place and pointing his gun at himself. Eventually, a command was issued
that only one officer, Sergeant Albert Rivera, speak directly with Mr. Guice.
{¶25} During the standoff, Sergeant Rivera took cover behind the corner of a duplex to
the northwest of Mr. Guice. He testified that he repeatedly asked Mr. Guice to drop his gun, but
Mr. Guice would not comply. As the sergeant attempted to bring the situation under control, Mr.
Guice made “very hysterical” comments, vacillating between threatening to kill himself and
encouraging the officers to shoot him. Sergeant Rivera testified that Mr. Guice became
increasingly agitated as the police refused to shoot at him.
{¶26} Near the end of the standoff, Officer Bonkoski heard Mr. Guice say that “he was
going to kill a f***ing cop tonight.” Likewise, multiple other officers testified that Mr. Guice
threatened to kill a police officer. An audio recording of the standoff was captured on Officer
Payne’s body microphone and, at 10:59 p.m., officers can be heard reacting to Mr. Guice’s
statement that he was going to kill a police officer. There was testimony that, not long after
threatening to kill a police officer, Mr. Guice commented on the size of the guns that Officers
Leiby and Bonkoski were carrying. Specifically, Officer Leiby heard Mr. Guice “talking about
‘those guys with the big guns over there’ and pointing at [him and Officer Bonkoski] in reference
to where [they] were at.” Additionally, Sergeant Rivera heard Mr. Guice “mention about the
guys with the big guns who were north of him * * *.” Sergeant Rivera testified that, right after
Mr. Guice made that statement, he pointed his gun at that group of officers and shot. At 11:01
p.m., a loud sound resembling a gunshot can be heard on the audio recording from Officer
11


Payne’s body microphone. The sound is followed by a brief pause and then a series of other
loud sounds resembling gunshots.
{¶27} Multiple officers testified that Mr. Guice fired his gun before officers returned
fire. Officer Leiby stated that, at the end of the standoff, he saw Mr. Guice point his gun in his
(Officer Leiby’s) direction and heard a loud pop consistent with gunfire coming from Mr.
Guice’s location. Likewise, Officer Bonkoski testified that Mr. Guice pointed his gun at their
group and fired, whereupon Officer Bonkoski was able to see the muzzle flash from Mr. Guice’s
gun. Lieutenant Leslie Palmer (positioned to the west of Mr. Guice), Officer Fordyce
(positioned to the southwest of Mr. Guice), and Officer Payne also testified that they saw a
muzzle flash after Mr. Guice pointed his gun at the officers to the north.
{¶28} After the police subdued Mr. Guice, Sergeant Rivera found the gun Mr. Guice had
been holding laying “[p]ractically underneath him.” There was testimony that the gun was a .40
caliber semi-automatic, was in operable condition, and was capable of holding seven rounds, but
was empty upon recovery. Though officers later combed the area where Mr. Guice had been
standing, they were unable to recover any casing consistent with having been fired from his gun.
Nevertheless, multiple officers testified that they had experienced instances where they knew a
gun to have been fired, but were unable to locate the ejected casing. There was also testimony
that a number of officers and emergency personnel had walked around the area where Mr. Guice
had been standing, such that a casing could have been accidentally kicked aside or carried away
in someone’s shoe tread.
Attempted Murder as to Officer Ehrke
{¶29} Mr. Guice argues that his attempted murder conviction, which relates to Officer
Ehrke, is based on insufficient evidence because there was no evidence that he intended to kill
12


the officer. According to Mr. Guice, the evidence showed that he only shot his gun at the ground
in front of Officer Ehrke’s cruiser. He argues that there was no evidence he focused his shots
directly at the officer or his cruiser; the bullets simply ricocheted once they struck the ground.
Because Mr. Guice only fired his gun to scare away Officer Ehrke, he argues, the State failed to
set forth sufficient evidence of his intent to kill.
{¶30} “Intent need not be proven by direct testimony.” State v. Elwell, 9th Dist. Lorain
No. 06CA008923, 2007-Ohio-3122, ¶ 26. “[L]ying as it does within the privacy of a person’s
own thoughts,” State v. Garner, 74 Ohio St.3d 49, 60 (1995), “‘[i]t must be gathered from the
surrounding facts and circumstances * * *.’” State v. Johnson, 56 Ohio St.2d 35, 38 (1978),
quoting State v. Huffman, 131 Ohio St. 17 (1936), paragraph four of the syllabus.
“The specific intent to kill may be reasonably inferred from the fact that a firearm is an inherently dangerous instrument, the use of which is likely to produce death.” State v. Walker, 5th Dist. Stark No. 2005-CA-00286, 2006-Ohio-6240, ¶ 87. Further, “‘[t]he act of pointing a firearm and firing it in the direction of another human being is an act with death as a natural and probable consequence.’” Id. at ¶ 88, quoting State v. Turner, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 97APA05-709, 1997 Ohio App. LEXIS 6021, *8-9 (Dec. 30, 1997).
Elwell at ¶ 26.
{¶31} Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, this Court must
conclude that the State satisfied its burden of production on the element of intent. See Jenks, 61
Ohio St.3d 259 at paragraph two of the syllabus. The State set forth evidence that, directly after
leading Officer Ehrke on a car chase, Mr. Guice quickly exited his car, positioned himself in a
nearby doorway, waited for Officer Ehrke to arrive, and then fired his gun three times in the
direction of Officer Ehrke’s cruiser. Although the cruiser’s dashcam recording shows that Mr.
Guice’s second and third shots initially struck the pavement, it is unclear from the recording
where he aimed the first shot. Moreover, there was testimony that the bullets from his gun struck
13


Officer Ehrke’s cruiser in three places: the front bumper, the A-frame, and the rear passenger
door on the driver’s side. Mr. Guice did not fire his gun into the air or simply threaten Officer
Ehrke with it. Instead, he purposely discharged it three times in the direction of the cruiser,
knowing that there was an officer behind the wheel. Based on the foregoing facts and
circumstances, a rational trier of fact reasonably could have inferred that Mr. Guice purposely
attempted to cause Officer Ehrke’s death. See Elwell at ¶ 26. Accordingly, to the extent his first
assignment of error concerns the attempted murder of Officer Ehrke, it is overruled.
Attempted Aggravated Murder and Attempted Murder as to Officers Payne, Nighswander,
Leiby, and Bonkoski
{¶32} Mr. Guice argues that his attempted aggravated murder convictions, which relate
to Officers Payne, Nighswander, Leiby, and Bonkoski, are based on insufficient evidence
because the State failed to prove prior calculation and design. He further argues that those
convictions, as well as his convictions for the attempted murder of those four officers, are based
on insufficient evidence because there was no evidence that he intended to kill them. According
to Mr. Guice, there was no forensic evidence definitively establishing that he ever fired his gun
during the standoff. Further, even assuming he did, he argues that there was no evidence he
aimed at the four officers. As to prior calculation and design, Mr. Guice avers that his actions
were “not the result of some well thought out elaborate plan, but rather an instantaneous
irrational decision by a mentally disturbed young man who thought and acted as the situation
progressed.”
{¶33} Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, this Court must
once again conclude that the State satisfied its burden of production on the element of intent. See
Jenks, 61 Ohio St.3d 259 at paragraph two of the syllabus. As noted, the intent to kill may be
14


reasonably inferred from the act of pointing and firing a gun in the direction of another human
being. Elwell, 2007-Ohio-3122, at ¶ 26. Officers Leiby and Bonkoski, who were standing
alongside Officers Payne and Nighswander, specifically testified that Mr. Guice pointed his gun
in their direction and fired. Though the police were unable to recover a bullet casing from Mr.
Guice’s gun, multiple officers confirmed that they heard and/or saw him fire in the direction of
Officers Payne, Nighswander, Leiby, and Bonkoski. The audio-recording of the incident also
captured the sound of a single gunshot in advance of other gunshots. There was testimony that,
shortly before he fired his gun, Mr. Guice specifically said “he was going to kill a f***ing cop
tonight.” Moreover, there was testimony that he commented on the size of Officer Leiby’s and
Officer Bonkoski’s guns directly before turning in their direction and firing. Based on the
foregoing facts and circumstances, a rational trier of fact reasonably could have inferred that Mr.
Guice purposely attempted to cause the deaths of Officers Payne, Nighswander, Leiby, and
Bonkoski. See id. Accordingly, to the extent his first assignment of error concerns those
officers, it is overruled.
{¶34} “Regarding prior calculation and design, the Ohio Supreme Court has held that
there is no bright-line test * * *.” State v. Thomas, 9th Dist. Summit No. 27405, 2015-Ohio
2377, ¶ 12, citing State v. Taylor, 78 Ohio St.3d 15, 20 (1997). Instead, “courts consider the
totality of the circumstances in each case * * *.” Guerra, 2013-Ohio-5367, at ¶ 6. As noted,
“‘[p]rior calculation and design’ denotes ‘sufficient time and opportunity for the planning of an
act of homicide * * *’ coupled with circumstances that demonstrate ‘a scheme designed to
implement the calculated decision to kill * * *.’” Powell, 2017-Ohio-5629, at ¶ 9, quoting
Cotton, 56 Ohio St.2d 8 at paragraph three of the syllabus. “While a few fleeting moments of
deliberation or instantaneous deliberations are inadequate to support prior calculation and design,
15


‘a prolonged period of deliberation is [also] unnecessary.’” Hairston, 2006-Ohio-4925, at ¶ 80,
quoting Taylor, 296 F.Supp.2d at 821.
[S]everal factors may guide a prior calculation and design analysis, given that no bright-line test exists. Hairston at ¶ 81-82. Those factors include any prior relationship between the accused and the victim, the apparent level of thought the accused put into a choice of murder weapon or location, “whether the killing was drawn out or an instantaneous eruption of events,” any expressed desire to kill on the part of the accused, any time the accused might have had to stop and reflect during the incident, the choice of the accused to immediately display a weapon and/or retrieve it at any point once the encounter ensued, any pursuit of the victim in which the accused engaged, and the number of shots fired. Id. The factors must then “be weighed in concert with the totality of the circumstances surrounding the murder.” Id. at ¶ 82.
State v. McCloud, 9th Dist. Lorain No. 11CA009966, 2012-Ohio-5220, ¶ 12.
{¶35} Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, this Court must
conclude that the State satisfied its burden of production on the element of prior calculation and
design. See Jenks, 61 Ohio St.3d 259 at paragraph two of the syllabus. By the time the standoff
with Mr. Guice ensued, he had already fired his gun multiple times at another officer (Officer
Ehrke). There was testimony that he first threatened suicide, but then encouraged officers to
shoot him and became increasingly agitated as they chose not to do so. The record reflects that
the standoff lasted approximately twenty minutes and, during that time, the officers repeatedly
commanded Mr. Guice to drop his weapon, attempted to calm him, and assured him that the
situation could be resolved if he complied. Mr. Guice, however, repeatedly chose not to alter his
course of conduct. See State v. Toth, 52 Ohio St.2d 206, 213 (1977). See also McCloud at ¶ 12,
quoting Hairston at ¶ 81-82. Instead, he stated that “he was going to kill a f***ing cop tonight.”
See McCloud at ¶ 12, quoting Hairston at ¶ 81-82. Less than two minutes later, he specifically
commented on the size of Officer Leiby’s and Officer Bonkoski’s guns, turned towards their
16


group, and fired in their direction. Accordingly, there was evidence that he purposely chose to
fire at specific officers, i.e., the ones with the largest weapons.
{¶36} The actions that Mr. Guice took “after making the statement [that “he was going
to kill a f***ing cop tonight”] support the jury finding that [he] had, before firing * * *, formed
an intent and plan to kill * * *.” Toth at 213. Even if he was suicidal, the law does not abide a
plan to bring about one’s own death by purposely attempting to end the life of another. “A
review of the totality of the circumstances[] establishes that [Mr. Guice] had sufficient time and
reflection and engaged in acts rising to the level of prior calculation and design.” Hairston at ¶
89. As such, his convictions for attempted aggravated murder are based on sufficient evidence,
and his second assignment of error is overruled.
Aggravated Burglary
{¶37} Lastly, Mr. Guice argues that his aggravated burglary conviction is based on
insufficient evidence because he did not trespass in A.B.’s duplex for the purpose of committing
a criminal offense therein. He argues that he completed the offense of obstructing official
business when he shot at Officer Ehrke’s cruiser and caused him to retreat. Because he
completed the offense before entering A.B.’s apartment, Mr. Guice argues, the State failed to
prove one of the elements of his aggravated burglary charge.
{¶38} The aggravated burglary statute, as applicable here, prohibits the act of (1)
trespassing, (2) by force, (3) in an occupied structure, (4) while armed, (5) with the purpose to
commit in the structure “any criminal offense.” R.C. 2911.11(A)(2). It is undisputed that the
State chose obstructing official business as the “criminal offense” Mr. Guice intended to commit
when he trespassed in A.B.’s home. See R.C. 2911.11(A)(2). As such, the State had to prove
that he trespassed in her home for the purpose of preventing, obstructing, or delaying a public
17


official’s duty. R.C. 2921.31(A). Because the State charged Mr. Guice with felony obstruction,
it also had to prove that his actions “create[d] a risk of physical harm” to one or more persons.
R.C. 2921.31(B).
{¶39} Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, this Court must
conclude that the State satisfied its burden of production on the “criminal offense” element of
aggravated burglary. See Jenks, 61 Ohio St.3d 259 at paragraph two of the syllabus. The record
reflects that, after he shot at Officer Ehrke, Mr. Guice ran to A.B.’s back door patio slider and
forcibly broke through the door with the butt of his gun. Though Officer Ehrke had temporarily
retreated, he quickly returned after repositioning his cruiser. Moreover, other officers very
quickly arrived on scene. By breaking into A.B.’s home, Mr. Guice temporarily stopped officers
from apprehending him and created a possible hostage situation. Even if Mr. Guice also wanted
to confront his ex-girlfriend, a rational trier of fact reasonably could have concluded that his
primary purpose for breaking into A.B.’s home at that time was to prevent the police from
apprehending him in accordance with their lawful duties. See R.C. 2921.31(A). As such, this
Court must conclude that his aggravated burglary conviction is based on sufficient evidence. Mr.
Guice’s third assignment of error is overruled.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 6
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY ADOPTING THE JURY’S VERDICTS AS TO THE ATTEMPTED AGGRAVATED MURDER AND ATTEMPTED MURDER COUNTS 1-5, FELONIOUS ASSAULT COUNTS 6-9, AGGRAVATED BURGLARY COUNT 11, AND ASSAULT COUNTS 13-16 BECAUSE THE VERDICTS WERE AGAINST THE MANIFEST WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE.
{¶40} In his sixth assignment of error, Mr. Guice argues that several of his convictions
are against the manifest weight of the evidence. This Court disagrees.
18


{¶41} When a defendant argues that his conviction is against the weight of the evidence,
this court must review all of the evidence before the trial court.
In determining whether a criminal conviction is against the manifest weight of the evidence, an appellate court must review the entire record, weigh the evidence and all reasonable inferences, consider the credibility of witnesses and determine whether, in resolving conflicts in the evidence, the trier of fact clearly lost its way and created such a manifest miscarriage of justice that the conviction must be reversed and a new trial ordered.
State v. Otten, 33 Ohio App.3d 339, 340 (9th Dist.1986). “When a court of appeals reverses a
judgment of a trial court on the basis that the verdict is against the weight of the evidence, the
appellate court sits as a ‘thirteenth juror’ and disagrees with the fact[-]finder’s resolution of the
conflicting testimony.” Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d at 387, quoting Tibbs v. Florida, 457 U.S. 31,
42 (1982). An appellate court should exercise the power to reverse a judgment as against the
manifest weight of the evidence only in exceptional cases. Otten at 340.
{¶42} Regarding his convictions for having shot at Officers Payne, Nighswander, Leiby,
and Bonkoski, Mr. Guice argues that the jury lost its way in convicting him because there was
conflicting testimony as to whether he fired his gun. He notes that several officers admitted they
never saw a muzzle flash when he allegedly fired, including Sergeant Rivera, who had a clear
line of sight. He further notes that the forensic team was unable to find a casing to match his gun
in the area where he was standing. Because the standoff was a stressful event, Mr. Guice argues,
officers easily could have misconstrued the events that occurred.
{¶43} Having reviewed the record, this Court cannot conclude that Mr. Guice’s
convictions, as they relate to Officers Payne, Nighswander, Leiby, and Bonkoski, are against the
manifest weight of the evidence. Multiple officers testified that Mr. Guice was the first person to
fire a gun during the standoff and that he fired it in the direction of those officers. Four different
officers, two of whom were standing directly in front of Mr. Guice, testified that they saw a
19


muzzle flash when Mr. Guice fired his gun. Although Sergeant Rivera did not see a muzzle
flash, he stated that he saw Mr. Guice raise his gun in the direction of the four officers before he
then “heard a pop.” He also testified that the first gunshot he heard came from Mr. Guice when
he shot in the direction of the four officers.
{¶44} While the police never recovered a casing to match Mr. Guice’s gun in the area
where he was standing, the record reflects that he was standing on a flowerbed covered in mulch
rather than on a flat surface. There was testimony that uneven or textured surfaces such as grass
or mulch make it more difficult to find ejected casings. Additionally, there was testimony that
multiple officers and paramedics walked through that area before a search could occur. The jury
heard testimony that a casing could have been accidentally kicked away or carried off in
someone’s shoe tread. More than one officer also related having experienced situations where
they knew a gun to have been fired, but failed to successfully retrieve the ejected casing.
{¶45} To the extent the jury heard conflicting evidence, it “was in the best position to
evaluate the credibility of the witnesses and it was entitled to believe all, part, or none of the
testimony of each witness.” State v. Lane, 9th Dist. Summit No. 28438, 2017-Ohio-8050, ¶ 11,
citing Prince v. Jordan, 9th Dist. Lorain No. 04CA008423, 2004-Ohio-7184, ¶ 35. The record
reflects that the jury chose to believe the testimony of multiple officers, all of whom testified that
Mr. Guice fired his gun at the officers standing to his north. Mr. Guice has not shown that this is
the exceptional case where the evidence weighs heavily against his convictions. Otten, 33 Ohio
App.3d at 340. Accordingly, this Court rejects his argument insofar as it concerns his
convictions for having shot at Officers Payne, Nighswander, Leiby, and Bonkoski.
{¶46} Mr. Guice also argues that his attempted murder conviction (as to Officer Ehrke)
and his aggravated burglary conviction are against the manifest weight of the evidence. As to
20


both convictions, he asserts that the State’s evidence was “insufficient” for the same reasons he
offered in support of his sufficiency argument. Yet, “sufficiency and manifest weight are two
separate, legally distinct arguments.” State v. Vicente-Colon, 9th Dist. Lorain No. 09CA009705,
2010-Ohio-6242, ¶ 20. This Court will not develop a manifest weight argument on Mr. Guice’s
behalf. See, e.g., State v. Vanest, 9th Dist. Summit No. 28339, 2017-Ohio-5561, ¶ 33-36.
Because he has not shown that this is the exceptional case where the trier of fact lost its way in
convicting him, this Court rejects his argument. See Otten at 340. Mr. Guice’s sixth assignment
of error is overruled.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 4
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY ALLOWING THE STATE TO INTRODUCE EVIDENCE OF A HOLE IN ANOTHER APARTMENT BUILDING THAT IMPLIED, BUT WAS NEVER PROVEN, TO RESULT FROM A BULLET FROM [MR.] GUICE’S GUN.
{¶47} In his fourth assignment of error, Mr. Guice argues that the trial court erred when
it admitted testimony about a possible bullet hole that the police discovered in an area behind
where Officers Payne, Nighswander, Leiby, and Bonkoski had been standing. Because the
record reflects that the court’s error, if any, was harmless, this Court rejects his argument.
{¶48} The decision to admit or exclude evidence lies in the sound discretion of the trial
court. State v. Sage, 31 Ohio St.3d 173, 180 (1987). “Absent an issue of law, this Court,
therefore, reviews the trial court’s decision regarding evidentiary matters under an abuse of
discretion standard of review.” State v. Aguirre, 9th Dist. Lorain No. 13CA010418, 2015-Ohio
922, ¶ 6. An abuse of discretion indicates that the trial court’s attitude was unreasonable,
arbitrary, or unconscionable. Blakemore v. Blakemore, 5 Ohio St.3d 217, 219 (1983). When
applying the abuse of discretion standard, this Court may not substitute its judgment for that of
the trial court. Pons v. Ohio State Med. Bd., 66 Ohio St.3d 619, 621 (1993).
21


{¶49} Officer Michael Darmstadt testified that, after the standoff ended, he was called to
the scene to assist with evidence collection. While doing so, he discovered a hole in the side
paneling of a building and noted that the hole appeared to be consistent with a bullet hole. The
hole was located in a building to the north of the standoff, behind and to the right of the area
where Officers Payne, Nighswander, Leiby, and Bonkoski had been standing. Officer Darmstadt
took several pictures of the hole, and those pictures were introduced at trial. Mr. Guice objected
to the pictures, and the court later refused to admit them into evidence at the close of the State’s
case. After hearing all the evidence, the court concluded that the State had failed to present
evidence linking the hole to the standoff or establishing that the hole had, in fact, been made by a
bullet.
{¶50} Mr. Guice acknowledges that the trial court ultimately excluded the photographs
of the alleged bullet hole, but argues that Officer Darmstadt’s testimony about the hole
prejudiced him. According to Mr. Guice, the testimony created a strong implication that he
created the bullet hole by firing his gun in the direction of the four officers. Because the State
failed to introduce any forensic evidence establishing that he, in fact, did fire his gun at the
officers, Mr. Guice argues that the admission of Officer Darmstadt’s testimony affected his
substantial rights.
{¶51} Even assuming that the trial court erred by admitting Officer Darmstadt’s
testimony, this Court cannot conclude that the testimony affected Mr. Guice’s substantial rights.
See Crim.R. 52(A) (errors that do not affect substantial rights “shall be disregarded”). Officer
Darmstadt readily admitted on cross-examination that no one examined the hole he found or
attempted to retrieve a bullet from it so as to determine whether it was, in fact, a bullet hole. He
further admitted that he had no idea how long the hole had been there, that it could have been
22


there for months, and that he had no information about its angle such that one could make any
inferences about the trajectory. As such, any implication raised by his testimony was weak, at
best.
{¶52} The jury heard multiple police officers testify that Mr. Guice fired his gun in the
direction of Officers Payne, Nighswander, Leiby, and Bonkoski. Moreover, they heard
testimony that, by that point in the evening, Mr. Guice had already fired at one officer (Officer
Ehrke) and had declared his intention “to kill a f***ing cop tonight.” Given the wealth of other
evidence the State presented, this Court cannot conclude that the admission of Officer
Darmstadt’s testimony affected the outcome of the trial; particularly in light of the strong points
Mr. Guice’s counsel elicited when cross-examining Officer Darmstadt. Consequently, any error
the trial court may have committed in admitting that testimony was harmless. See id. Mr.
Guice’s fourth assignment of error is overruled.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 5
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY CONVICTING [MR.] GUICE OF THE FELONIOUS ASSAULT COUNTS 6-10 AS FIRST DEGREE FELONIES AND ASSAULT COUNTS 13-17 AS FOURTH DEGREE FELONIES BECAUSE THE JURY VERDICT FORMS DID NOT SPECIFY THAT THE VICTIM WAS A PEACE OFFICER.
{¶53} In his fifth assignment of error, Mr. Guice argues that he is entitled to a reduction
in the offense-levels of his convictions for felonious assault and assault because the jury failed to
make a finding on the indicted, enhancing element (i.e., that the victims were peace officers). He
further argues that his counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the jury verdict forms.
{¶54} As to Mr. Guice’s ineffective assistance of counsel argument, this Court notes that
his captioned assignment of error strictly alleges error on the part of the trial court. This Court
has held that “[a]n appellant’s captioned assignment of error ‘provides this Court with a roadmap
23


on appeal and directs this Court’s analysis.’” State v. Pleban, 9th Dist. Lorain No. 10CA009789,
2011-Ohio-3254, ¶ 41, quoting State v. Marzolf, 9th Dist. Summit No. 24459, 2009-Ohio-3001, ¶
16. This Court will not address arguments that fall outside the scope of an appellant’s captioned
assignment of error. See Pleban at ¶ 41. Because Mr. Guice has not separately assigned
ineffective assistance of counsel as error, this Court will not address his argument on that point.
This Court limits its review to his claim of trial court error.
{¶55} R.C. 2945.75(A)(2) provides that,
[w]hen the presence of one or more additional elements makes an offense one of more serious degree[,] * * * [a] guilty verdict shall state either the degree of the offense of which the offender is found guilty, or that such additional element or elements are present. Otherwise, a guilty verdict constitutes a finding of guilty of the least degree of the offense charged.
The Supreme Court of Ohio has held that the “clear language” of the statute requires “a verdict
form signed by a jury [to] include either the degree of the offense of which the defendant is
convicted or a statement that an aggravating element has been found to justify convicting a
defendant of a greater degree of a criminal offense.” State v. Pelfrey, 112 Ohio St.3d 422, 2007
Ohio-256, syllabus.
{¶56} Mr. Guice is correct that the verdict forms for his felonious assault and assault
charges do not include either the degrees of his offenses or findings that the victims were peace
officers. While these omissions ordinarily would prove fatal, see id., the record reflects that the
parties reached a stipulation wherein they agreed that it was unnecessary for the jury to make
those findings. When instructing the jury on each charge of felonious assault and assault, the
trial court stated: “Peace officers. The parties have agreed that [the officer at issue] is a peace
officer. As such, no additional finding is necessary.” (Emphasis added.). Mr. Guice, therefore,
did not simply stipulate that the victims were peace officers such that the jury still would have
24


had to make findings to that effect. Compare State v. Gregory, 3d Dist. Hardin No. 6-12-02,
2013-Ohio-853, ¶ 19-21. Rather, he specifically agreed that the jury did not need to make
findings to that effect. By raising a Pelfrey challenge on appeal, he now seeks to take advantage
of an error for which he is responsible. Yet, a party may not take advantage of an error if he
either induced it or “affirmatively consented to a procedure the trial judge proposed.” State v.
Campbell, 90 Ohio St.3d 320, 324 (2000). Because Mr. Guice agreed that the jury be repeatedly
and explicitly instructed against making findings on the aggravating element of his offenses, he
cannot now complain that the jury failed to make those findings. His fifth assignment of error is
overruled.
III.
{¶57} Mr. Guice’s assignments of error are overruled. The judgment of the Lorain
County Court of Common Pleas is affirmed.
Judgment affirmed.



There were reasonable grounds for this appeal.

Outcome: We order that a special mandate issue out of this Court, directing the Court of Common Pleas, County of Lorain, State of Ohio, to carry this judgment into execution. A certified copy of this journal entry shall constitute the mandate, pursuant to App.R. 27. Immediately upon the filing hereof, this document shall constitute the journal entry of judgment, and it shall be file stamped by the Clerk of the Court of Appeals at which time the
period for review shall begin to run. App.R. 22(C). The Clerk of the Court of Appeals is instructed to mail a notice of entry of this judgment to the parties and to make a notation of the mailing in the docket, pursuant to App.R. 30. Costs taxed to Appellant.

Plaintiff's Experts:

Defendant's Experts:

Comments:



 
 
Home | Add Attorney | Add Expert | Add Court Reporter | Sign In
Find-A-Lawyer By City | Find-A-Lawyer By State and City | Articles | Recent Lawyer Listings
Verdict Corrections | Link Errors | Advertising | Editor | Privacy Statement
© 1996-2018 MoreLaw, Inc. - All rights reserved.