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Date: 04-08-2019

Case Style:

STATE OF OHIO v. JAVONN L.E. HOCKETT

Case Number: 28141

Judge: Michael L. Tucker

Court: COURT OF APPEALS OF OHIO SECOND APPELLATE DISTRICT MONTGOMERY COUNTY

Plaintiff's Attorney: MICHAEL J. SCARPELLI

Defendant's Attorney: ROBERT ALAN BRENNER

Description:




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On December 17, 2015, Kevin Webb was shot multiple times while in the
parking lot of a liquor store known as Gina’s. Webb and his sister Kaneisha McDonald
had driven to Gina’s to purchase alcohol. Once inside the store, Webb and McDonald
encountered Hockett and Ryan Scott. Hockett made a remark to McDonald. While it is
not clear what the exact remark was, the record indicates that it was suggestive or an
attempt to “come on” to McDonald. The remark caused Webb to respond by saying
something to the effect of “that’s not going to happen.” At that point, Hockett became
angry, and he and Webb began arguing. Scott was also involved in the argument.
Eventually, Webb, McDonald, Hockett and Scott left the store. Hockett and Scott
entered the same vehicle, a silver Pontiac, which drove away.


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{¶ 4} A few moments later, the silver Pontiac returned to the parking lot at which
time Webb was shot. Webb suffered gunshot wounds to the abdomen, right torso and
right hand. Webb testified that he was first shot in the hand, and that he began to run
back into the store while the shots continued. He then began to feel a burning sensation
from the remaining shots to his body.
{¶ 5} Webb was transported to the hospital, where he underwent emergency
surgery requiring two trauma surgeons. During surgery, Webb lost the equivalent of four
times his entire blood volume, requiring massive transfusions. Additionally, parts of
Webb’s liver and pancreas, as well as one entire kidney, were removed due to irreparable
damage. His stomach had holes in both the front and back which required repair. The
surgeons were not able to close Webb’s abdomen following the initial surgery. He
remained in the hospital for almost 60 days. As a result of his injuries, Webb underwent
numerous additional surgeries. He also developed diabetes as a result of the pancreatic
surgery, and he later began suffering seizures due to the inability to control the surgically
induced diabetes.
{¶ 6} Following an investigation, the Dayton Police arrested Hockett and Scott.
Both men were indicted on two counts of felonious assault, and each count had attendant
firearm and repeat violent offender specifications. They were also both indicted on two
counts of having a weapon while under disability with attendant firearm specifications.
{¶ 7} The felonious assault charges proceeded to a jury trial; the jury found Hockett
guilty of both counts of felonious assault as well as the firearm specifications. Scott was
convicted of both counts of felonious assault but not the firearm specifications.
Thereafter, a bench trial was conducted on the charges of having weapons while under


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disability and the repeat violent offender specifications. The trial court found both men
guilty of those charges and specifications.
{¶ 8} A sentencing hearing was conducted in October 2017. At that time, the trial
court noted that a written jury waiver had not been filed for either defendant relating to the
counts of having weapons while under disability. Thus, the trial court dismissed those
counts, along with the related firearm specifications. The trial court ordered the merger
of Count 1 (felonious assault/deadly weapon) and Count 2 (felonious assault/serious
physical harm), and the State elected to proceed to sentencing on Count 2. The court
sentenced Hockett to an aggregate prison term of 20 years.1
{¶ 9} Hockett appeals.

II. Manifest Weight
{¶ 10} Hockett’s sole assignment of error states as follows:
THE CONVICTIONS IN COUNTS I AND II ARE AGAINST THE MANIFEST
WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE.
{¶ 11} Hockett contends that the testimony of Webb and McDonald was
inconsistent and unreliable and that, therefore, the conviction for felonious assault was
against the manifest weight of the evidence. He further contends that there was
evidence to contradict the testimony of Webb and McDonald, and that the conviction must
be reversed.
{¶ 12} A manifest weight of the evidence challenge questions whether the state
has met its burden of persuasion. State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 387, 678
1 Scott was sentenced to an aggravated term of 16 years.


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N.E.2d 541 (1997). When a defendant asserts that his conviction is against the manifest
weight of the evidence, the court “review[s] 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 and a new trial ordered. The
discretionary power to grant a new trial should be exercised only in the exceptional case
in which the evidence weighs heavily against the conviction.” Id. quoting State v. Martin,
20 Ohio App.3d 172, 175, 485 N.E.2d 717 (1st Dist.1983).
{¶ 13} “The weight to be given the evidence and the credibility of the witnesses are
primarily for the trier of the facts.” State v. DeHass, 10 Ohio St.2d 230, 227 N.E.2d 212
(1967), paragraph one of the syllabus. Further, “[a] trier of fact is free to believe all, part
or none of the testimony of each witness.” State v. Hartman, 2016-Ohio-2883, 64 N.E.3d
519, ¶ 42 (2d Dist.), quoting State v. Lewis, 4th Dist. Scioto No. 01CA2787, 2002 WL
368625, * 3 (Feb. 25, 2002), citing State v. Long, 127 Ohio App.3d 328, 335, 713 N.E.2d
1 (4th Dist.1998). Therefore, while the reviewing court considers the credibility of
witnesses in a challenge to the manifest weight of the evidence, it does so keeping in
mind that the “trier of fact is in the best position to determine a witness's credibility through
its observation of his or her demeanor, gestures, and voice inflections.” State v. Clark,
8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 94050, 2010-Ohio-4354, ¶ 17.
{¶ 14} Hockett’s argument is based, in part, upon discrepancies in the trial
testimony of McDonald and Webb. Specifically, he notes that McDonald testified she
and Webb exited Gina’s before Hockett and Scott, while conversely, Webb testified that
Hockett and Scott exited first. Additionally, McDonald testified that, when the Pontiac


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returned to Gina’s parking lot, both Hockett and Scott exited the car armed with guns and
started shooting at Webb. Webb, in contrast, testified that the shooting was done by one
person who was “hanging out” of the Pontiac.
{¶ 15} While we agree that these inconsistencies exist, the jury heard all the
testimony and was free to determine the impact of the inconsistencies. Further, “[i]t has
long been recognized that conflicting evidence and inconsistencies in testimony do not
render a verdict against the manifest weight of the evidence.” Hunter v. Hunter, 2d Dist.
Montgomery No. 21285, 2006-Ohio-6307, ¶ 9; State v. Eisenman, 10th Dist. Franklin No.
17AP-475, 2018-Ohio-934, ¶ 9, citing State v. Nivens, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 95APA09
1236, 1996 WL 284714, *3 (May 28, 1996).
{¶ 16} Both Webb and McDonald testified that they went to Gina’s Liquor where
they encountered Scott and Hockett. They both testified that Hockett made some sort
of suggestive comment to McDonald and that Webb responded to the comment. Webb
and McDonald also consistently testified that Webb and Hockett proceeded to exchange
heated comments. They also testified that Hockett pulled a gun while in the store, and
that Hockett threated to shoot Webb. Finally, both Webb and McDonald testified that
Hockett and Scott left the premises in the same vehicle, which reappeared a few moments
later, at which point Webb was shot.
{¶ 17} After reviewing the record, we conclude that the discrepancy regarding who
exited the store first was of minor consequence. Further, we cannot say that the
testimony regarding the shooters is contradictory. Webb testified that the Pontiac
returned to the parking lot at which time Webb observed it stop with a person hanging out
of the window shooting at him; he was, however, unable to identify the shooter. Webb


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testified that he was shot in the hand, at which point he began running back into Gina’s.
McDonald testified that she saw both Hockett and Scott exit the vehicle and shoot at
Webb. Based upon this testimony, it is entirely possible the jury determined that
McDonald and Webb observed the shooters at different points in time. In other words,
Webb initially saw the car, with a shooter hanging out the window, return to the parking
lot and stop. Then he was shot in the hand at which point he turned to run into the store
and did not observe, as McDonald did, the two men exit the vehicle. Therefore, we find
this argument lacks merit.
{¶ 18} Hockett next contends that the testimony of an eyewitness, Steven
Lehmann, discredits the testimony of both Webb and McDonald. Lehmann was sitting
on his front porch directly across the street from Gina’s when the shooting occurred. He
was interviewed by the police shortly after the shooting. During the trial, Lehmann
testified that, while there was a shooting at Gina’s, he could not remember any details,
including the gender of the shooter. However, on cross-examination, he admitted that
he “probably” informed the police that he observed a female shooter.
{¶ 19} We note that, during trial, the police officer who interviewed Lehmann
testified that he observed approximately 20 beer cans surrounding Lehmann. The officer
also testified that Lehmann smelled of alcohol and was slurring his speech. Also,
Lehmann testified that he had observed “several people get shot and die” in that location.
Again, the jury was free to believe some, all or none of Lehmann’s testimony. Given that
Lehmann appeared intoxicated on the night in question, the jury could have determined
that his testimony lacked credibility. Indeed, the jury may have concluded that Lehmann
was intoxicated and had confused the instant shooting with another shooting he had


-8-
observed at Gina’s. In any event, we cannot say that this testimony should have been
afforded more credit than that of Webb and McDonald regarding the identity of the
shooter.
{¶ 20} Next, Hockett claims that the testimony provided by Montaga Bailey tended
to discredit the testimony of Webb and McDonald. Bailey, who is Scott’s mother, testified
that she drove both Hockett and Scott to Gina’s on the night of the shooting. She testified
that she was driving her father’s burgundy pickup truck. She further testified that she did
not observe a shooting. However, the jury could have determined that Bailey’s
relationship to Scott rendered her testimony incredible. Further, the State presented
evidence that Bailey owned a silver Pontiac. Given this evidence, and the fact that Bailey
placed Scott and Hockett at the scene, we cannot say that the jury lost its way regarding
Bailey’s testimony.
{¶ 21} Finally, Hockett claims McDonald was not a credible witness because she
admitted that, at the scene, she originally gave the police a false name. Testimony was
adduced indicating that McDonald was aware of the existence of a warrant for her arrest
on a misdemeanor offense and that she did not want to be arrested at the scene. Again,
the jury was made aware of this information, and it was entitled to determine what weight,
if any, to assign it.
{¶ 22} Based upon the record before us, we conclude that Hockett has failed to
demonstrate that the jury clearly lost its way or created such a manifest miscarriage of
justice that the conviction must be reversed. We further conclude that this is not the
exceptional case in which the evidence weighs heavily against the conviction.
Accordingly, the sole assignment of error is overruled.

Outcome: The assignment of error being overruled, the judgment of the trial court is
affirmed.

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Defendant's Experts:

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