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Date: 04-11-2019

Case Style:

STATE OF OHIO v. JASON N. HEARD

Case Number: 17 MA 0064

Judge: Cheryl L. Waite

Court: COURT OF APPEALS OF OHIO SEVENTH APPELLATE DISTRICT MAHONING COUNTY

Plaintiff's Attorney: Paul J. Gains, Mahoning County Prosecutor and Ralph M. Rivera, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney

Defendant's Attorney: John D. Falgiani, Jr

Description:








As necessary background to this matter, on December 28, 2004, Thomas
Owens and his close friend, Richard Owens (no familial relation) were drinking alcohol in
a basement. At some point, the two men were playing with a gun and it discharged,
striking Richard in the head. Thomas rushed Richard to the hospital where he died the
next day. Because of this incident, Thomas pleaded no contest to a negligent homicide
charge. Richard was Appellant’s uncle. Appellant and his family have harbored a grudge
against Thomas since this incident occurred and have made threats against him over the
years. (Trial Tr. Vol. II, pp. 377-380.)
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
{¶3} Regarding the instant appeal, on the night of November 13, 2015, Erik
Brown picked up his cousin Lottre Haynes, his brother Tony Brown, and Thomas Owens.
The men drove to the Southern Tavern in Youngstown for food. While inside the Southern
Tavern, Erik Brown noticed Appellant. Appellant had previously arrived at the bar with
Leonard Savage. At some point during the night, a Southern Tavern surveillance video
captured Appellant holding a gun in his right hand. (Trial Tr. Vol. IV, p. 757.) Jawonn
Hymes, Savage’s brother, arrived at the Southern Tavern separately and joined Appellant
and Savage. Jovon Fleetwood waited outside in a van that Appellant and Savage had
driven to the tavern. According to Fleetwood, he did not enter the tavern because he was
not of legal age to enter the bar.
{¶4} After receiving their food order, Erik, Lottre, Tony, and Thomas left. (Trial
Tr. p., 339.) Tavern surveillance video shows Appellant, Savage, and Hymes follow the
men outside. Appellant, Savage, and Hymes put on gloves on their way outside and then
watched to see which way the victims’ car turned before running across the street towards
a dark car. (Trial Tr. Vol. IV, pp. 747, 768.) Fleetwood saw the men run past their van
and leave in a black Nissan. (Trial Tr. Vol. III, pp. 491.)
{¶5} Erik Brown drove the car carrying the victims to his aunt’s house and parked
along the curb in front of her house. Lottre sat in the front seat, Thomas was in the back
driver’s side, and Tony sat in the rear passenger seat. Erik saw a sedan pull next to him,
when someone inside the sedan fired shots into Erik’s car. Erik attempted to put the car
in reverse to flee but ended up in his aunt’s front lawn. Thomas died instantly, the
remaining victims were uninjured.
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
{¶6} Fleetwood heard gunshots shortly after his companions left and saw the
black Nissan return a few minutes later. According to Fleetwood, Appellant and Savage
exited the Nissan and entered the van. Fleetwood noticed that Appellant and Savage
wore gloves on their return to the van. The three men left the Southern Tavern and
Fleetwood went home.
{¶7} Shay Colpetro, the daughter of Erik Brown’s girlfriend, called Erik and told
him that she had seen a “Snapchat” image of a gun with the word “headshot” posted on
Appellant’s account. Apparently, Shay and a friend, Kayla Williams, had been with
Appellant for some period of time at the Southern Tavern. Shay recognized a black
hooded sweatshirt shown in the image that appeared to be the one worn by Appellant at
the Southern Tavern.
{¶8} On November 25, 2015, Appellant and his three codefendants were indicted
on several charges: one count of aggravated murder, an unclassified felony in violation
of R.C. 2903.01(A), (F); three counts of attempted murder, a felony of the first degree in
violation of R.C. 2903.02(A), (D) and R.C. 2923.02(A); three counts of felonious assault,
a felony of the second degree in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(2), (D) with an attendant
firearm specification in violation of R.C. 2941.145(A); and one count of having weapons
while under disability, a felony of the third degree in violation of R.C. 2923.12(A)(3), (B).
On November 23, 2016, the trial court granted Appellant’s motion to sever his trial from
the trials of his codefendants.
{¶9} On February 13, 2017, Appellant’s case proceeded to a jury trial. After the
three day trial concluded, the jury found Appellant guilty on all counts under a complicity
theory. Appellant had previously elected to sever the charge of having weapons under a
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
disability and have this charge heard separately to the bench. However, the state
dismissed the charge at the sentencing hearing.
{¶10} On April 3, 2017, the trial court sentenced Appellant to a period of
incarceration of twenty years to life for aggravated murder, five years for each count of
attempted murder, and three years of incarceration for each of the firearm specifications.
The attempted murder and felonious assault convictions merged for purposes of
sentencing. The state elected to proceed on the attempted murder convictions. The court
ordered the firearm specifications to run concurrent to one another, but consecutive to
the sentences for aggravated murder and attempted murder. The attempted murder
convictions were ordered to run concurrent to one another but consecutive to the
aggravated murder sentence. Ultimately, the trial court imposed an aggregate sentence
of twenty-eight years to life imprisonment. Appellant timely appeals his convictions and
sentence.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 1
THERE WAS INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO SUSTAIN A CONVICTION.
{¶11} Appellant contends the state failed to present sufficient evidence to support
his aggravated murder and attempted murder convictions. As to the aggravated murder
conviction, Appellant argues that there was no evidence that he was at the scene or that
he aided and abetted in the shooting. While he concedes that several witnesses testified
he was at the Southern Tavern, he argues that the evidence regarding his involvement is
circumstantial. As to the attempted murder convictions, Appellant argues that there is no
evidence he had a motive to harm Erik Brown, Tony Brown, or Lottre Haynes.
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
{¶12} The state responds that witness testimony and the surveillance video
establish that Appellant was at the Southern Tavern on the night of the incident and
followed the victims as they left the bar. The state highlights the fact that Appellant is
seen carrying a gun on the surveillance video. The testimony and surveillance video also
show Appellant leave in a dark car and return shortly thereafter. Additionally, the state
points to a jail inmate who shared a cell with Appellant and testified that Appellant
confessed his involvement. A sheriff’s deputy overheard Appellant attempting to convince
Fleetwood not to testify against him.
{¶13} “Sufficiency of the evidence is a legal question dealing with adequacy.”
State v. Pepin-McCaffrey, 186 Ohio App.3d 548, 2010-Ohio-617, 929 N.E.2d 476, ¶ 49
(7th Dist.), citing State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 386, 678 N.E.3d 541 (1997).
“Sufficiency is a term of art meaning that legal standard which is applied to determine
whether a case may go to the jury or whether evidence is legally sufficient to support the
jury verdict as a matter of law.” State v. Draper, 7th Dist. No. 07 JE 45, 2009-Ohio-1023,
¶ 14, citing State v. Robinson, 162 Ohio St. 486, 124 N.E.2d 148 (1955). When reviewing
a conviction for sufficiency of the evidence, a reviewing court does not determine “whether
the state's evidence is to be believed, but whether, if believed, the evidence against a
defendant would support a conviction.” State v. Rucci, 7th Dist. No. 13 MA 34, 2015
Ohio-1882, ¶ 14, citing State v. Merritt, 7th Dist. No. 09-JE-26, 2011-Ohio-1468, ¶ 34.
{¶14} In reviewing a sufficiency of the evidence argument, the evidence and all
rational inferences are evaluated in the light most favorable to the prosecution. State v.
Goff, 82 Ohio St.3d 123, 138, 694 N.E.2d 916 (1998). A conviction cannot be reversed
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
on the grounds of sufficiency unless the reviewing court determines no rational juror could
have found the elements of the offense proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Id.
{¶15} As previously noted, Appellant was convicted of all offenses under a
complicity theory. Appellant focuses his arguments on whether the evidence established
his involvement in the shooting, however, he also questions the state’s evidence about
whether he acted with the requisite culpability.
{¶16} Under a complicity theory, a defendant can be prosecuted and punished as
if he were a principal offender, even if the charge is stated in terms of the principal offense.
R.C. 2923.03(F). “A person is complicit if, acting with the kind of culpability required for
the commission of an offense, he aids or abets another in committing the offense.”
Henderson at ¶ 48, citing R.C. 2923.03(A)(2).
{¶17} Aiding and abetting exists where the defendant “supported, assisted,
encouraged, cooperated with, advised, or incited the principal in the commission of the
crime * * *.” Id., citing State v. Johnson, 93 Ohio St.3d 240, 245, 754 N.E.2d 796 (2001).
“Participation in criminal intent may be inferred from presence, companionship and
conduct before and after the offense is committed.” Id. at 245.
{¶18} Aggravated murder is defined within R.C. 2903.01(A): “No person shall
purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the death of another or the
unlawful termination of another's pregnancy.” When aggravated murder is charged under
a complicity theory, the requisite culpability needed to be proven is that the defendant
acted “purposely, and with prior calculation and design.” State v. Henderson, 2018-Ohio
5124, -- N.E.3d --, ¶ 48 (7th Dist.), citing R.C. 2903.01(A).
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
{¶19} Attempted murder involves conduct that, if successful, would result in
purposely causing the death of another. R.C. 2903.02(A); R.C. 2923.02(A). When
attempted murder is charged under a complicity theory, the defendant must have acted
“purposely.”
{¶20} Although Appellant does not directly address his felonious assault
convictions, he does claim that he had no involvement whatsoever in this matter. As
such, his felonious assault convictions will also be addressed. Felonious assault is
defined within R.C. 2903.11(A): “[n]o person shall knowingly do either of the following:
(1) Cause serious physical harm to another or to another's unborn; (2) Cause or attempt
to cause physical harm to another or to another's unborn by means of a deadly weapon
or dangerous ordnance.”
{¶21} The state’s case consisted of the Southern Tavern surveillance video and
testimony from Jovon Fleetwood, Shay Colpetro, Kayla Williams, Kenneth Price, Deputy
Gary Shane, and Det. Michael Lambert. Fleetwood admittedly lied during his first
interview with police. During the interview, Fleetwood denied that he was acquainted with
Appellant, Savage, and Hymes. (Trial Tr. Vol. III, p. 516.) As the interview progressed,
Fleetwood admitted that he knew Appellant and claimed that he bought marijuana from
Appellant on the night of the shooting. At trial, he explained that he lied during this
interview because he had received threatening calls and was afraid to testify. (Trial Tr.
Vol. III, pp. 499, 548.) The record indicates that a second interview was conducted on
October 3, 2016. During this interview, Fleetwood was shown at least part of the Southern
Tavern surveillance video. However, Fleetwood specifically testified at trial that his
recollection of the events was from his own memory, not from what he saw on the video.
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
{¶22} A third interview took place the next day, October 4, 2016. During this
interview, Fleetwood admitted that he saw Appellant and Savage at a bar called
“Twisted.” According to Fleetwood, Appellant asked him if he wanted to join them as they
were about to “bust a move,” which is slang for picking up money from someone. (Trial
Tr. Vol. III, p. 484.) Fleetwood agreed and entered a light colored van driven by Savage.
After picking up the money, Fleetwood accompanied Appellant and Savage to the
Southern Tavern, however, Fleetwood remained inside the van because he was not of
legal age to enter the bar. As Appellant and Savage entered the tavern, Fleetwood saw
Hymes join them.
{¶23} Sometime thereafter, Fleetwood saw Appellant, Savage, and Hymes run
past the van and get into a black Nissan. Fleetwood watched the Nissan pull out onto
the street and then turn right, off of Glenwood Avenue. Shortly thereafter, he heard
gunshots. Soon after, he saw the black Nissan return and Appellant and Savage exited
the car and entered the van. Fleetwood noticed that the men were now wearing gloves.
The men left in the van and drove Fleetwood home.
{¶24} Fleetwood also testified that he was in a holding cell near Appellant the day
before he testified and Appellant told him “little brother, you still my nigga; don’t do this.”
(Trial Tr. Vol. III, p. 501.) Fleetwood was in jail because he tried to flee the area to avoid
testifying due to threats he had received.
{¶25} Deputy Gary Shane of the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office corroborated
Fleetwood’s claim. Dep. Shane testified that he was transporting prisoners to and from
the jail and the courthouse the day before Fleetwood testified. Dep. Shane explained that
he took Fleetwood out of his holding cell and began cuffing him when he heard Appellant
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
talk to Fleetwood from his holding cell. Dep. Shane heard Appellant tell Fleetwood, “why
you doing this -- you know, why you doing this to me? You know, we’re all, we’re all
niggers. You know, you shouldn’t be doing this, to be ratting on anybody.” (Trial Tr. Vol.
III, p. 580.) He specifically heard Appellant tell Fleetwood, “you still my nigger. Don’t do
this.” (Trial Tr. Vol. III, p. 589.)
{¶26} Kayla Williams testified that she and Appellant were close friends. On the
night of the incident, she arranged to meet Appellant at the Southern Tavern. (Trial Tr.
Vol. III, p. 593.) Williams conceded that she was drunk that night. She testified that
Appellant, Savage, and Hymes were together at the Southern Tavern. At some point,
she saw the three leave together. She testified that she did not leave with Appellant and
was upset that he tried to use her as an alibi.
{¶27} Shay Colpetro is the daughter of Erik Brown’s girlfriend. Colpetro is also
Kayla Williams’ friend, and was at the Southern Tavern with Williams, Appellant, Savage,
and Hymes. At one point during the night, Colpetro saw that Appellant had a gun. (Trial
Tr. Vol. III, p. 615.) Colpetro heard the men discussing something and one of the men
stated “niggers think stuff sweet.” (Trial Tr. Vol. III, p. 615.) According to Colpetro, on the
streets, “sweet” means that a person is weak, or not tough. (Trial Tr. Vol. III, p. 626.)
Colpetro testified Williams told her that Appellant, Savage, and Hymes “went to go shoot
up some niggers.” (Trial Tr. Vol. III, p. 617.) Colpetro also testified that, sometime after
the shooting, she saw an image posted from Appellant’s “Snapchat” account showing a
gun with the phrase “head shot” underneath the image. (Trial Tr. Vol. III, p. 623.)
Although it is unclear if Appellant was holding the gun, he was apparently visible in the
image wearing the same black hooded sweatshirt he wore while at the Southern Tavern.
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
(Trial Tr. Vol. III, p. 623.) A copy of the image was not introduced into evidence, as a
Snapchat image is designed to be visible only for a short period of time before it
disappears.
{¶28} Kenneth Price was incarcerated with Savage, Appellant’s codefendant.
Price testified that inmates often discuss their cases with another. Price testified that he
took notes of his jailhouse conversations with Savage. According to Price, Savage said
that:
[H]im [sic], [Appellant] and Jawonn [Hymes] was at the bar and ran into
Thomas Owens, the person that supposedly killed Lenny’s uncle back in
the early 2000s, I think 2004 maybe. And once Thomas left they followed
him out the bar to West Myrtle and pulled up on the car, shot the car up. He
said his brother, Jawonn, was the driver. He said [Appellant] was in the
back seat shooting and he was in the front – [Savage] was in the front seat
shooting.
(Trial Tr. Vol. IV, p. 689.)
{¶29} According to Price, when Savage found out that a witness was cooperating
with the police, he “was real nervous like -- cuz at first he said she wasn’t coming to court
and he had somebody beat her up out there on some streets and she was scared to come
testify and then she popped back up out of the blue. She was corroborating -- he was
worried about them finding somebody’s DNA on the shell.” (Trial Tr. Vol. IV, p. 691.)
Regarding another witness, Price testified that Savage told him, “[j]ust gotta kill that bitch.
He told detectives there was a dude in the van with them and they wanted him killed
because he was supposed to be telling on them.” (Trial Tr. Vol. IV, p. 693.) Savage also
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
expressed concern over the Southern Tavern surveillance video as he feared it would link
the evidence to him. Savage also told Price that his family put money into Appellant’s
prison account to keep him quiet.
{¶30} Det. Lambert testified about the Southern Tavern surveillance video, which
was shown to the jury and admitted into evidence. The video shows Appellant, Savage,
and Hymes walk into the Southern Tavern together, contradicting Appellant’s statement
to police that he did not know Hymes and was not with Savage the night of the incident.
According to Det. Lambert, Appellant did not amend his story even after seeing the video.
(Trial Tr. Vol. IV, pp. 725, 740.) The video then showed the four victims entering the bar.
At some point during the video, Appellant can be seen holding a gun in his right hand and
gesturing as if he had two guns. (Trial Tr. Vol. III, p. 626.) Despite viewing this video,
Appellant continued to deny that he had a gun that night.
{¶31} The video shows the four victims leave the bar and Appellant, Savage, and
Hymes follow them out moments later. Appellant, Savage, and Hymes are shown putting
on gloves, described as gloves worn by football players, as they exit the building. The
car carrying the victims can be seen driving down the street as Appellant, Savage, and
Hymes exit the bar. Appellant, Savage, and Hymes wait to see where the car turned
before running across the street towards a dark sedan. Shortly thereafter, the sedan can
be seen pulling onto the road and turning onto the same street as the victims. According
to Det. Lambert, the car carrying Appellant turned on the street one minute and twenty
five seconds after the car carrying the victims. A few moments later, the dark sedan
returned and pulled next to the van where Fleetwood was waiting. The van left shortly
thereafter. Williams and Colpetro are shown on the video at the bar after Appellant left.
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
Appellant did not reenter the bar at any time during the night. Despite this, Appellant
claimed that Williams drove him home from the Southern Tavern that evening.
{¶32} As to culpability, the requisite intent for attempted murder is “purposely.” “A
person acts purposely when it is the person’s 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 the offender intends to accomplish thereby, it is the offender’s specific
intention to engage in conduct of that nature.” R.C. 2901.22(A). This record reveals that
the shooters fired two guns at least fifteen times into the car. Thirteen of the shots came
from a .40 caliber gun and the other two came from a .45 caliber gun. (Trial Tr. Vol. IV,
p. 675.) We have previously held that four gunshots fired at a victim is sufficient to
demonstrate the “purposeful” element of murder even where the shooter claimed that he
intended only to stop the victim, not kill him. State v. Johnson, 7th Dist. No. 2001 WL
1667878, *4-5 (Dec. 18, 2001.) In this matter, fifteen shots were fired into the car carrying
the four victims. It is sufficient from the number of shots fired into this single car to find
that Appellant intended to cause the death of everyone inside the car. See also State v.
Smith, 89 Ohio App.3d 497, 624 N.E.2d 1114 (10th Dist.) (when the defendant fired a
nine millimeter handgun one time into a crowd of people this was sufficient to find that the
defendant shot the gun with the intention to kill due to the close range and caliber of the
weapon.)
{¶33} The requisite intent for aggravated murder is “purposely, and with prior
calculation and design.” As discussed above, the purposeful element is satisfied in this
case. Regarding prior calculation and design, the legislature intended that proof of this
element requires more than mere instantaneous or momentary deliberation. State v.
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
Kerr, 7th Dist. No. 15 MA 0083, 2016-Ohio-8479, ¶ 20. Prior calculation requires
“evidence of ‘a scheme designed to implement the calculated design to kill’ and ‘more
than the few moments of deliberation permitted in common law interpretations of the
former murder statute.’ ” Id.
{¶34} When evidence presented at trial “reveals the presence of sufficient time
and opportunity for the planning of an act of homicide to constitute prior calculation, and
the circumstances surrounding the homicide show a scheme designed to implement the
calculated decision to kill, a finding by the trier of fact of prior calculation and design is
justified.” Id., citing State v. Braden, 98 Ohio St.3d 354, 2003-Ohio-1325, 785 N.E.2d
439, ¶ 61.
{¶35} Prior calculation and design is evaluated by looking at the totality of the
circumstances on a case-by-case basis. Kerr at ¶ 21. Prior calculation and design exists
where a defendant “quickly conceived and executed the plan to kill within a few minutes.”
State v. Coley, 93 Ohio St.3d 253, 264, 754 N.E.2d 1129 (2001), citing State v. Palmer,
80 Ohio St.3d 543, 567–568, 687 N.E.2d 685 (1997).
{¶36} When reviewing whether prior calculation and design has been proven,
Ohio courts analyze several factors. State v. Carosiello, 7th Dist. No. 15 CO 0017, 2017
Ohio-8160, ¶ 33. These factors include whether the defendant and victim knew each
other, if the relationship was strained, whether the defendant gave thought in choosing
the murder weapon or site, and whether the act was drawn out or sprung from an
instantaneous eruption of events. Id., citing State v. Franklin, 97 Ohio St.3d 1, 2002
Ohio-5304, 776 N.E.2d 26, ¶ 56-60.
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
{¶37} It is apparent from this record that Appellant knew Thomas Owens and held
a grudge against him for the death of his uncle, Richard Owens. The record also shows
that Appellant had a gun in his possession on the night of the incident and made a
reference to his opinion that Owens and his friends thought “stuff [was] sweet.” (Trial Tr.
Vol. III, p. 615.) Again, on the street, “sweet” means weak. The video shows Appellant
and his codefendants follow the victims out of the bar. As they exit the bar, surveillance
video shows them putting on gloves and stop to watch which street the victims turned
onto before running to their car. Based on this evidence, there is sufficient evidence to
find that Appellant acted with prior calculation and design.
{¶38} This record is replete with evidence demonstrating Appellant’s involvement
with the shooting. Appellant is shown on the surveillance video with a gun. He and his
codefendants are shown following the victims out of the bar. Appellant and his
codefendants can be seen putting on gloves and watching the direction of travel of the
victims’ car before pursuing them. Appellant returned shortly thereafter by car and the
men exited the car and left in the van. For these reasons, there is sufficient evidence to
support Appellant’s aggravated murder, attempted murder, and felonious assault
convictions.
{¶39} Appellant argues that the state did not prove he had motive to harm Erik
Brown, Tony Brown, and Lottre Haynes. We have previously acknowledged that:
Motive is not an element of the crime of murder and need not be established
to warrant a conviction; proof of motive does not establish guilt nor does
want of proof thereof establish innocence; and, where the guilt of the
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
accused is shown beyond a reasonable doubt, it is immaterial what the
motive may have been for the crime, or whether any motive is shown.
State v. Williams, 7th Dist. No. 11 MA 185, 2014-Ohio-1015, ¶ 41, citing State v.
Lancaster, 167 Ohio St. 391, 149 N.E.2d 157, paragraph two of the syllabus.
{¶40} As to Appellant’s argument regarding the circumstantial nature of the
evidence, “[c]ircumstantial evidence and direct evidence inherently possess the same
probative value.” State v. Prieto, 7th Dist. No. 15 MA 0200, 2016-Ohio-8480, ¶ 34, citing
In re Washington, 81 Ohio St.3d 337, 340, 691 N.E.2d 285 (1998); State v. Jenks, 61
Ohio St.3d 259, 272-273, 574 N.E.2d 492 (1991), paragraph one of the syllabus. In fact,
“[e]vidence supporting the verdict may be found solely through circumstantial evidence.”
State v. Smith, 7th Dist. No. 06 BE 22, 2008-Ohio-1670, ¶ 49.
{¶41} As such, Appellant’s first assignment of error is without merit and is
overruled.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 2
THE JURY'S VERDICT IS AGAINST THE MANIFEST WEIGHT OF THE
EVIDENCE.
{¶42} Appellant contends that several witnesses, especially Jovon Fleetwood and
Kayla Williams, lacked credibility which misled and confused the jury. Regarding
Fleetwood’s testimony, Appellant argues that police coerced his testimony by threatening
and frightening him into providing favorable testimony. Appellant points out that
Fleetwood gave several inconsistent statements to police before testifying at trial.
Appellant also argues that Fleetwood was under the influence of marijuana at the time of
the incident and was a minor. As to Williams’ testimony, Appellant argues that she was
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
intoxicated the night of the incident. Appellant also questions testimony regarding the
surveillance video, however, he does not specify in what manner the jurors were
confused.
{¶43} In response, the state argues that the jury was in the best position to judge
and weigh Fleetwood’s testimony.
{¶44} Weight of the evidence concerns “the inclination of the greater amount of
credible evidence, offered in a trial, to support one side of the issue rather than the other.”
(Emphasis deleted.) State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 387, 678 N.E.3d 541 (1997).
It is not a question of mathematics, but depends on the effect of the evidence in inducing
belief. Id. Weight of the evidence involves the state's burden of persuasion. Id. at 390
(Cook, J. concurring). The appellate court reviews the entire record, weighs the evidence
and all reasonable inferences, considers the credibility of witnesses, and determines
whether, in resolving conflicts in the evidence, the jury clearly lost its way and created
such a manifest miscarriage of justice that the conviction must be reversed. State v.
Lang, 129 Ohio St.3d 512, 2011-Ohio-4215, 954 N.E.2d 596, ¶ 220, citing Thompkins, at
387. This discretionary power of the appellate court to reverse a conviction is to be
exercised only in the exceptional case in which the evidence weighs heavily against the
conviction. Id.
{¶45} “[T]he weight to be given the evidence and the credibility of the witnesses
are primarily for the trier of the facts.” State v. Hunter, 131 Ohio St.3d 67, 2011-Ohio
6524, 960 N.E.2d 955, ¶ 118, quoting State v. DeHass, 10 Ohio St.2d 230, 227 N.E.2d
212 (1967), paragraph one of the syllabus. The trier of fact is in the best position to weigh
the evidence and judge the witnesses' credibility by observing their gestures, voice
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inflections, and demeanor. Seasons Coal Co. v. Cleveland, 10 Ohio St.3d 77, 80, 461
N.E.2d 1273 (1984). The jurors are free to believe some, all, or none of each witness'
testimony and they may separate the credible parts of the testimony from the incredible
parts. State v. Barnhart, 7th Dist. No. 09 JE 15, 2010-Ohio-3282, ¶ 42, citing State v.
Mastel, 26 Ohio St.2d 170, 176, 270 20 N.E.2d 650 (1971). When there are two fairly
reasonable views of the evidence or two conflicting versions of events, neither of which
is unbelievable, we will not choose which one is more credible. State v. Gore, 131 Ohio
App.3d 197, 201, 722 N.E.2d 125 (7th Dist.1999).
{¶46} Pursuant to Evid.R. 601:
Every person is competent to be a witness except:
(A) Those of unsound mind, and children under ten years of age, who
appear incapable of receiving just impressions of the facts and transactions
respecting which they are examined, or of relating them truly.
{¶47} State v. Clark, 71 Ohio St.3d 466, 469, 644 N.E.2d 331 (1994) holds that:
A plain reading of Evid.R. 601(A) leads to the conclusion that the
competency of individuals ten years or older is presumed, while the
competency of those under ten must be established. * * * As a result, absent
some articulable concern otherwise, an individual who is at least ten years
of age is per se competent to testify. (Internal citations omitted.)
{¶48} Fleetwood was sixteen years old when the incident occurred and eighteen
years old at the time of trial. In accordance with Evid.R. 601(A), he is presumed
competent to testify. While Fleetwood’s first statement to police was untruthful, it is clear
from his testimony and Det. Lambert’s testimony that he was afraid of Appellant, Savage,
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
and Hymes. He testified that he received threats prior to trial. He also testified that at the
time he testified he was being held for attempting to flee to avoid testifying due to these
threats. There is also evidence from Price’s testimony that Appellant’s codefendant,
Savage, made a specific threat to kill Fleetwood.
{¶49} Fleetwood’s testimony was corroborated by the Southern Tavern
surveillance video. To the extent that Appellant argues Fleetwood’s testimony was a
result of what he later viewed on the surveillance tape as opposed to what he actually
witnessed, Fleetwood was questioned about this at trial and specifically stated that his
testimony was the result of the events as he saw them on the night of the incident, not
from what he saw on the video. (Trial Tr. Vol. III, p. 575.)
{¶50} As to Williams, she admitted that she was drunk the night of the incident.
However, her testimony was also corroborated by the surveillance video. She testified
that she did not go home with Appellant as he claimed in his interview with investigators.
The video shows that Appellant left and did not reenter the bar, while Williams continued
to be visible on the video. Williams did not provide any other significant testimony.
{¶51} Appellant claims that Det. Lambert’s testimony about the surveillance video
was confusing to jurors. Det. Lambert explained to the jury that the video was made up
of small video clips that were placed on the same disk but did not represent a continuous
timeframe of the events. Det. Lambert discussed what was shown on the surveillance
video as it was played. According to Det. Lambert, at the beginning of the video Appellant,
Savage, and Hymes entered the bar. The victims entered a short time later. The video
shows Appellant holding a gun in his right hand at some point. The victims can be seen
leaving the bar and, shortly thereafter, are followed out the door by Appellant, Savage,
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
and Hymes. Appellant and his codefendants can be seen putting on gloves and watching
where the victims’ car turned before they ran across the street towards a dark sedan. The
dark sedan left moments later. The car returned a short while later and parked next to
Appellant’s van and the van left. Det. Lambert’s testimony regarding the video is neither
confused nor confusing in any way.
{¶52} Accordingly, Appellant’s second assignment of error is without merit and is
overruled.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 3
THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED PLAIN ERROR IN ALLOWING THE
ADMISSION OF TESTIMONY REGARDING VIDEO SURVEILLANCE
FOOTAGE.
{¶53} At trial, the state and the defense stipulated the surveillance video displayed
a time-stamp that is not synchronized with the actual time of day. Appellant argues that
Det. Lambert’s testimony gave the illusion that the video represented a seamless,
contemporaneous timeline of the events. Also, Appellant contends that it is unclear
whether Det. Lambert’s testimony referred to the time-stamps or actual time of day.
Appellant claims that Det. Lambert’s testimony affected the outcome of trial because it
allowed the state to establish the timing of the events before and after the shooting.
{¶54} The state responds by arguing that Det. Lambert’s testimony was within the
bounds of the stipulation agreement.
{¶55} At trial, the parties’ stipulation was read to the jury:
The Southern Tavern is equipped with several cameras and video
surveillance equipment. The cameras are motion operated and recordings
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
are made with this equipment. The information/events are recorded as it is
occurring and it’s kept by the Southern Tavern or others with knowledge of
the operation and is kept in the regular course of business. The recordings
cannot be altered. Each camera has its own time-stamp and each camera’s
times are synchronized closely to one another but time still may different
[sic] by several seconds to minutes from camera to camera. The times are
not synchronized to the actual time of day and do not reflect the actual time
of day.
The Southern Tavern provided the recordings from the night of November
13th, 2015 into the early hours of November 14, 2015 to the Youngstown
Police Department. The information contained on the recorded videos is a
fair and accurate depicting of the events from that night.
(Trial Tr. Vol. IV, pp. 733-734.)
{¶56} Det. Lambert’s testimony was consistent with the parties’ stipulation. He
testified that “[t]his video is -- consists of several tracks of videos that last about a minute,
minute and a half apiece. The video quality is so high that it’s only able to lay it in tracks
like a CD player so as soon as it gets to the end it starts over at the next track and it gives
you the illusion of a continuous video but what actually it is is a bunch of small videos
linked together.” (Trial Tr. Vol. IV, p. 738.) His testimony clearly informed the jury that
the video did not show a seamless timeline of events.
{¶57} Det. Lambert also clearly stated that his references to time corresponded
with the time-stamp on the video. (Trial Tr. Vol. IV, p. 739.) Det. Lambert referred to the
camera number each video originated from, where the camera was located, and what the
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
angle each camera captured. There is nothing confusing or misleading in Det. Lambert’s
testimony and it clearly followed the parties’ stipulation.
{¶58} Accordingly, Appellant’s third assignment of error is without merit and is
overruled.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 4
MULTIPLE INSTANCES OF ERROR, IF NOT REVERSIBLE ON THEIR
OWN, RENDER THIS CASE REVERSIBLE ON A THEORY OF
CUMULATIVE ERROR.
{¶59} Appellant argues that he was denied a fair trial based on the cumulative
nature of the errors. In addition to the issues specifically addressed as error by Appellant,
he claims it was cumulative error that another witness, Colpetro, was improperly permitted
to testify about an image she saw on Appellant’s “Snapchat” account. Again, Appellant
did not raise his concerns with this testimony or address it as error in any other section of
his brief.
{¶60} The state argues that Appellant has not demonstrated any error, thus
cannot argue the cumulative effect of errors. In so doing, the state does not directly
respond to Appellant’s claims regarding the Snapchat testimony.
{¶61} For ease of understanding, Appellant’s Confrontation Clause argument will
be addressed separately from the rest of his cumulative error argument.
Confrontation Clause
{¶62} As “cumulative error,” Appellant argues that Colpetro was permitted to
testify about an image that purportedly appeared on Appellant’s Snapchat account
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
without any evidence that Appellant posted the photograph. Appellant argues that the
testimony is hearsay and may violate the Confrontation Clause.
{¶63} While defense counsel did object to admission of this testimony before it
was given and at the time the testimony was given, Appellant did not file a motion to
suppress or motion in limine.
{¶64} The Confrontation Clause affords a criminal defendant the right “to be
confronted with the witnesses against him.” U.S. Constitution, Sixth Amendment.
Pursuant to the United States Supreme Court, the confrontation clause bars “admission
of testimonial statements of a witness who did not appear at trial unless he was
unavailable to testify, and the defendant had had a prior opportunity for cross
examination.” Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 53–54, 124 S.Ct. 1354, 158 L.Ed.2d
177 (2004).
{¶65} Hence, we must decide “what constitutes a testimonial statement: ‘It is the
testimonial character of the statement that separates it from other hearsay that, while
subject to traditional limitations upon hearsay evidence, is not subject to the Confrontation
Clause.’ ” State v. Shaw, 2013-Ohio-5292, 4 N.E.3d 406 (7th Dist.) ¶ 39, citing Davis v.
Washington, 547 U.S. 813, 126 S.Ct. 2266, 2273, 165 L.Ed.2d 224 (2006).
{¶66} Pursuant to Evid.R. 801(D)(2), an admission by a party opponent is a:
[S]tatement [that] is offered against a party and is (a) the party’s own
statement, in either an individual or a representative capacity, or (b) a
statement of which the party has manifested an adoption or belief in its truth,
or (c) a statement by a person authorized by the party to make a statement
concerning the subject, or (d) a statement by the party’s agent or servant
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
concerning a matter within the scope of the agency or employment, made
during the existence of the relationship, or (e) a statement by a co
conspirator of a party during the course and in furtherance of the conspiracy
upon independent proof of the conspiracy.
{¶67} A Snapchat photograph or video is designed to disappear within one to ten
seconds after the image is viewed. Ganzenmuller, Snap and Destroy: Preservation
Issues for Ephemeral Communications, 62 Buff.L.Rev. 1239, 1248 (2014). Snapchat also
offers a story feature which allows users to see an image or video for a twenty-four hour
period. Id. at 1249. According to Snapchat, once the time period for an image has
expired, it is deleted from users’ phones and the Snapchat server. Id. There apparently
has been significant debate about whether a Snapchat image truly disappears forever.
Id. at 1250. These claims have involved security breaches where users’ images have
been accessed by a third party. Id.
{¶68} While the law regarding this technology is clearly evolving, we need not
delve into this law to resolve this matter. Assuming, arguendo, that error resulted from
the admission of testimony about the Snapchat image, any such error would be harmless.
This record is replete with evidence supporting Appellant’s conviction, absent this
testimony. “Where evidence has been improperly admitted in derogation of a criminal
defendant's constitutional rights, the admission is harmless ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’
if the remaining evidence alone comprises ‘overwhelming’ proof of defendant's guilt.”
State v. Williams, 6 Ohio St.3d 281, 290, 452 N.E.2d 1323 (1983). Further, this “error”
was raised only within a cumulative error argument. It appears, then, that Appellant
concedes this testimony did not rise to the level of harmful error. As no other error has
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
occurred in this case, it is axiomatic that the issue involving admission of the Snapchat
image cannot result in cumulative error.
Cumulative Error
{¶69} “Cumulative error exists only where the harmless errors during trial actually
‘deprive[d] a defendant of the constitutional right to a fair trial.’ ” State v. Dawson, 2017
Ohio-2957, 91 N.E.3d 140, ¶ 54 (7th Dist.), citing State v. DeMarco, 31 Ohio St.3d 191,
509 N.E.2d 1256 (1987), paragraph two of the syllabus. In Ohio, it is generally recognized
that “given the myriad [of] safeguards provided to assure a fair trial, and taking into
account the reality of the human fallibility of the participants, there can be no such thing
as an error-free, perfect trial, and that the Constitution does not guarantee such a trial.”
State v. Rupp, 7th Dist. No. 05 MA 166, 2007-Ohio-1561, ¶ 83, quoting State v. Jones,
90 Ohio St.3d 403, 422, 739 N.E.2d 300 (2000). Again, even if the issue regarding the
Snapchat testimony rose to the level of error, any such error was harmless. Hence, no
cumulative error exists in this matter.
{¶70} Appellant’s fourth assignment of error is without merit and is overruled.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 5
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED AND ACTED CONTRARY TO LAW IN
IMPOSING CONSECUTIVE SENTENCES.
{¶71} Appellant argues that the trial court failed to make the requisite R.C.
2929.14(C)(4) findings when it imposed consecutive sentences. In addition to the
absence of any findings pursuant to R.C. 2929.14(C)(4), Appellant argues that the trial
court omitted any reference to R.C. 2929.14(C)(4).
{¶72} The state concedes the trial court’s error.
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
{¶73} Pursuant to R.C. 2929.14(C)(4), before a trial court can impose consecutive
sentences on a defendant, the court must find:
[T]hat the consecutive service is necessary to protect the public from future
crime or to punish the offender and that consecutive sentences are not
disproportionate to the seriousness of the offender's conduct and to the
danger the offender poses to the public, and if the court also finds any of
the following:
(a) The offender committed one or more of the multiple offenses while the
offender was awaiting trial or sentencing, was under a sanction imposed
pursuant to section 2929.16, 2929.17, or 2929.18 of the Revised Code, or
was under post-release control for a prior offense.
(b) At least two of the multiple offenses were committed as part of one or
more courses of conduct, and the harm caused by two or more of the
multiple offenses so committed was so great or unusual that no single
prison term for any of the offenses committed as part of any of the courses
of conduct adequately reflects the seriousness of the offender's conduct.
(c) The offender's history of criminal conduct demonstrates that
consecutive sentences are necessary to protect the public from future crime
by the offender.
{¶74} A trial court must make the consecutive sentence findings at the sentencing
hearing and must additionally incorporate the findings into the sentencing entry. State v.
Williams, 2015-Ohio-4100, 43 N.E.3d 797, 806, ¶ 33-34 (7th Dist.), citing State v. Bonnell,
140 Ohio St.3d 209, 2014-Ohio-3177, 16 N.E.3d 659, ¶ 37. The court is not required to
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Case No. 17 MA 0064
state reasons in support nor is it required to use any “magic” or “talismanic” words, so
long as it is apparent that the court conducted the proper analysis. Williams at ¶ 34, citing
State v. Jones, 7th Dist. No. 13 MA 101, 2014-Ohio-2248, ¶ 6; State v. Verity, 7th Dist.
No. 12 MA 139, 2013-Ohio-1158, ¶ 28-29.
{¶75} The trial court ordered Appellant’s aggravated murder sentence to run
consecutively to his attempted murder sentence. However, both the sentencing hearing
transcripts and sentencing entry are completely devoid of any reference to R.C.
2929.14(C)(4) or the requisite findings. As such, Appellant’s fifth assignment of error has
merit and is sustained.

Outcome: Appellant argues that his aggravated murder and attempted murder
convictions are not supported by sufficient evidence and are against the manifest weight
of the evidence. Appellant argues that Det. Lambert’s testimony regarding the
surveillance video violated the parties’ stipulation. Appellant contends that he was denied
a fair trial based on the cumulative nature of these errors. Appellant also argues that the
trial court erroneously imposed consecutive sentences without making the requisite R.C.
2929.14(C)(4) findings. For the reasons provided, Appellant’s arguments as to his
convictions are without merit and the judgment of the trial court is affirmed. However, the
trial court erred in sentencing and the matter is remanded for the limited purpose of
addressing consecutive sentences.

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