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Date: 08-12-2020

Case Style:

STATE OF OHIO -vs- ANTHONY R. COLSTON, JR.

Case Number: CT2019-0076

Judge:

Court: COURT OF APPEALS MUSKINGUM COUNTY, OHIO FIFTH APPELLATE DISTRICT

Plaintiff's Attorney: TAYLOR BENNINGTON
Assistant Prosecutor

Defendant's Attorney:

Call 918-582-6422 for free help finding a great criminal defense lawyer.

Description:

















{¶2} The Muskingum County Sheriff's Department used a confidential informant
to set up controlled drug deals on September 6 and 15, 2016.
{¶3} Detective Matt Wilhite from the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office and the
Central Ohio Drug Enforcement Task Force testified that his confidential informant [“CI”]
spoke to him about meeting an individual named Mario Martinez Claytor, a.k.a. “Casino”
while the pair were incarcerated in the Muskingum County Jail. 1T. at 1741. Detective
Wilhite had knowledge of Claytor and had been investigating him since 2005. Detective
Wilhite asked the CI to make contact with Claytor and arrange to make some controlled
drug buys from him. 1T. at 174.
{¶4} The CI began by sending a “friend” request to Claytor’s Facebook page.
Within minutes, Claytor responded with a telephone number and a request for the CI to
contact him. 1T. at 175. While at the sheriff’s office, Detective Wilhite monitored and
recorded the telephone call between the CI and Claytor. 1T. at 176. (State’s Exhibit B2).
Detective Wilhite verified that Claytor had been in the Muskingum County Jail at the time
the CI was in the jail. 1T. at 178. He further verified the telephone number and address
of Claytor. 1T. at 179.
1 For clarity sake, the Transcript of the jury trial will be referred to by volume and page number as
“T.”
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 3
{¶5} On September 9, 2016, the CI informed Detective Wilhite that he, the CI,
could purchase one ounce of cocaine from Claytor for $1,225. Detective Wilhite and the
CI met to set up a controlled buy from Claytor. 1T. at 179. The CI was given the buy
money and an undercover police vehicle. The CI made a telephone call to Claytor that
the detective monitored and recorded. 1T. at 180. (State’s Exhibit C1). The CI was
equipped with audio and visual recording devices and given a camera. 1T. at 181.
Undercover detectives from the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office followed the CI to his
home which was the agreed meeting place for the transaction. The CI remained on the
porch in view of the undercover officers.
{¶6} The CI received a telephone call and gave the caller directions to the CI’s
home. 1T. at 183. A short time later, a white Chrysler 300 with Pennsylvania license
plates pulled up to the house. The CI left the porch and got inside the backseat of the car.
The entire time, detectives were listening and recording the events in real time. (State’s
Exhibit D17). The CI initially tells the driver of the car that he, the CI, forgot his scales. 1T.
at 188. The CI can be seen returning to the car with scales in hand. Inside the car was
Colston. Colston handed the CI cocaine and the CI gave Colson $1,225. 1T. at 189.
{¶7} Detective Wilhite produced still pictures made from the video of the
transaction. Among the pictures are pictures of Colston’s face, and the tattoo on his right
arm. State’s Exhibit D3, D4, D6, D7, D8, D9, D10, and D11. State’s Exhibit D12 is a
picture of a hand with what appears to be a bag of cocaine. 1T. at 194-195. State’s
Exhibit D13 is a picture of a hand, a bag of cocaine, and money. State’s Exhibits D14,
D15 and D16 show Colston’s face. 1T. at 195. Approximately 27 grams of cocaine was
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 4
recovered from the CI from the transaction that took place on September 6, 2016. 1T. at
186. State’s Exhibit E1.
{¶8} Detective Wilhite was able to find booking photographs and tattoo records
from law enforcement databases that matched those he saw in the video. The records
identified Colston as the driver of the white Chrysler 300. Upon arriving at the residence
listed for Colston from the dataset records, Detective Wilhite found the white Chrysler 300
parked in front of the residence. 1T. at 196.
{¶9} A second controlled buy took place on September 15, 2016. 1T. at 198. The
CI informed Detective Wilhite that the CI could purchase four ounces of cocaine from
Mario Claytor. The CI and Detective Wilhite met at a prearranged meeting pace. The CI
was given $4,500 in buy money and outfitted with visual and audio recording devices.
The buy was again to take place at the CI’s residence. Surveillance was set up around
the residence by detectives from the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office. After waiting for
over one hour the CI received a telephone call from Claytor discussing the terms of the
deal. 1T. at 204. Approximately ten minutes later, Colston arrived driving a silver Toyota.
1T. at 205. The CI got into the front passenger seat. Claytor telephoned the CI while the
CI was inside the car. Apparently, there was a discrepancy in the amount of money the
CI was to pay for the cocaine. This was resolved by the CI agreeing to pay an additional
$300 at a later time. 1T. at 205. Colston gave the CI four ounces of cocaine in exchange
for receiving $4,500. 1T. at 205. Detective Wilhite was able to pull up next to the silver
Toyota while the cars were stopped at a traffic light. Detective Wilhite observed Colston
driving the silver Toyota. 1T. at 206. No one else was inside the Toyota.
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 5
{¶10} Colston is seen in the video handing cocaine to the CI and the CI is seen
on the video giving Colston $4,500. 1T. at 207. State’s Exhibit G1. Stills taken from the
video of Colston’s face and tattoos were received into evidence. State’s Exhibit’s H8 –
H13. 1T. at 211- 213.
{¶11} At trial, upon the request of the prosecution, and over the objection of
Colston's trial counsel, the trial judge had Colston show the jury a tattoo he had on his
arm and hands. 2T. at 241-242; 267.
{¶12} In January 2017 multiple search and arrest warrants were issued. 1T. at
219. Detective Wilhite testified that the identity of the CI was determined by those
involved by the end of that day. 1T. at 219-220. Colston was arrested in the state of
Alabama nearly one year later. He was extradited to Ohio.
{¶13} Colston was indicted with one count of conspiracy to trafficking in drugs, a
first degree felony, in violation of R.C. 2923.03, and one count of engaging in a pattern of
corrupt activity, a first degree felony, in violation of R.C. 2923.32. The charges contained
major drug offender specifications under R.C. 2941.141.
{¶14} Before jury deliberations, the trial court instructed the jury that it heard
testimony that Colston fled the state and that this conduct can evince a consciousness of
guilt. 2T. at 397. Trial counsel objected to the instruction arguing there was no testimony
that Colston left the state under an awareness that he was being charged with a crime.
2T. at 370.
{¶15} The jury found Colston guilty of conspiracy to drug trafficking as well as
engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. The jury also found that the offenses pertained
to trafficking cocaine in an amount greater than 100 grams. The prosecution dismissed
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 6
the major drug offender specification attached to the trafficking charge, but kept the
specification attached to the engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity charge. The issue of
whether Colston was a major drug offender was for the trial court to make, and it found
that Colston was a major drug offender. The trial court therefore sentenced Colston to a
mandatory term of seven years on the conspiracy to trafficking count and a mandatory
term of eleven years on the engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity count. The court
ordered the sentences to be served consecutively for an aggregate prison term of 18
years.
Assignments of Error
{¶16} Colston raises eight Assignments of Error,
{¶17} “I. THE TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION BY DENYING
COLSTON'S MOTION FOR A CONTINUANCE, IN VIOLATION OF COLSTON'S DUE
PROCESS RIGHTS PURSUANT TO THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT TO THE
UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION.
{¶18} “II. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY REQUIRING COLSTON TO DISPLAY
HIS TATTOO TO THE JURY, IN VIOLATION OF HIS RIGHT AGAINST SELFINCRIMINATION GUARANTEED BY THE FIFTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED
STATES CONSTITUTION.
{¶19} “III. THE TRIAL COURT PLAINLY ERRED BY FAILING TO INSTRUCT
THE JURY THAT IT MUST UNANIMOUSLY AGREE ON THE SAME SPECIFIC
INCIDENT OF COMPLICITY [SIC.]2 TO DRUG TRAFFICKING AND ENGAGING IN A
2 Colston incorrectly refers to his conviction in Count 1 of the Indictment as “complicity” when in
fact Colston was indicted and convicted of conspiracy to trafficking in cocaine pursuant to R.C. 2923.01.
See, Appellant’s Brief at 6.
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 7
PATTERN OF CORRUPT ACTIVITY, EACH ALLEGED IN SINGLE COUNTS IN THE
INDICTMENT AGAINST COLSTON, IN VIOLATION OF HIS RIGHTS TO DUE
PROCESS OF LAW, A FAIR TRIAL, JURY UNANIMITY, AND THE DOUBLE
JEOPARDY PROTECTIONS PURSUANT TO THE FIFTH, SIXTH AND FOURTEENTH
AMENDMENTS TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ARTICLE I,
SECTIONS 10 AND 16 OF THE OHIO CONSTITUTION.
{¶20} “IV. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY INSTRUCTING THE JURY THAT IT
COULD CONSIDER THAT COLSTON FLED THE STATE AS EVIDENCE OF A
CONSCIOUSNESS OF GUILT.
{¶21} “V. COLSTON’S CONVICTIONS ARE BASED ON INSUFFICIENT
EVIDENCE, IN VIOLATION OF THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE OF THE FIFTH AND
FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND
SECTIONS 10 & 16, ARTICLE I OF THE OHIO CONSTITUTION.
{¶22} “VI. COLSTON'S CONVICTIONS ARE AGAINST THE MANIFEST
WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE IN VIOLATION OF THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE OF
THE FIFTH AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS TO THE UNITED STATES
CONSTITUTION AND SECTIONS 10 & 16, ARTICLE I OF THE OHIO CONSTITUTION.
{¶23} “VII. THE TRIAL COURT LACKED AUTHORITY TO FIND COLSTON A
MAJOR DRUG OFFENDER, PURSUANT TO THE SIXTH AMENDMENT TO THE
UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION.
{¶24} “VIII. THE TRIAL COURT UNLAWFULLY ORDERED COLSTON TO
SERVE CONSECUTIVE SENTENCES, IN VIOLATION OF HIS RIGHTS TO DUE
PROCESS, GUARANTEED BY SECTION 10, ARTICLE I OF THE OHIO
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 8
CONSTITUTION AND THE FIFTH AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS TO THE
UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION.
I.
{¶25} In his First Assignment of Error, Colston contends that the trial court abused
its discretion and violated his right to present a meaningful defense by denying his fifth
motion to continue the trial date that he filed on February 27, 2019.
1.1 Standard of Appellate Review.
{¶26} Every criminal defendant has a constitutional right to present a meaningful
defense. Crane v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 683, 690, 106 S.Ct. 2142, 90 L.Ed.2d 636(1986).
Ordinarily a reviewing court analyzes a denial of a continuance in terms of whether the
court has abused its discretion. Ungar v. Sarafite, 376 U.S. 575, 589, 84 S.Ct. 841, 11
L.Ed.2d 921(1964). If, however, the denial of a continuance is directly linked to the
deprivation of a specific constitutional right, some courts analyze the denial in terms of
whether there has been a denial of due process. Bennett v. Scroggy, 793 F.2d 772(6th
Cir.1986). A defendant has an absolute right to prepare an adequate defense under the
Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution and a right to due process under the
Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. United States v. Crossley, 224 F.3d 847, 854(6th
Cir.2000). The United States Supreme Court has recognized that the right to offer the
testimony of witnesses and compel their attendance is constitutionally protected.
Washington v. Texas, 388 U.S. 14, 19, 87 S.Ct. 1920, 1923, 18 L.Ed.2d 1019(1967). The
Ohio Supreme Court recognized that the right to present a witness to establish a defense
is a fundamental element of due process of law. Lakewood v. Papadelis, 32 Ohio St.3d
1, 4–5, 511 N.E.2d 1138(1987). A trial court's failure to grant a continuance to enable a
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 9
defendant to exercise his constitutionally protected right to offer the testimony of
witnesses and compel their attendance may, in some circumstances, constitute a denial
of due process. Mackey v. Dutton, 217 F.3d 399, 408(6th Cir.2000); Bennett v. Scroggy,
supra, 793 F.2d at 774. See also, State v. Wheat, 5th Dist. No. 2003-CA-00057, 2004–
Ohio–2088, ¶16.
1.2. Issue for Appellate Review: Whether the trial court abused its discretion and
denied Colston due process of law by failing to grant the February 27, 2019 motion to
continue the March 5, 2019 trial date.
{¶27} On May 14, 2018, Colston’s trial counsel filed a notice of appearance and
a demand for discovery. (Docket Entries Nos. 5, 6, 7).
{¶28} By Journal Entry filed May 16, 2018, Colston’s case was originally
scheduled for a jury trial on July 19, 2018. (Docket Entry No. 11).
{¶29} On July 11, 2018, Colston filed a motion for continuance. (Docket Entry No.
14). The trial court granted the request and continued the trial to September 6, 2018.
(Docket Entry No. 15).
{¶30} On August 16, 2018, Colston filed a second motion for continuance.
(Docket Entry No. 16).
{¶31} On August 27, 2018, Attorney Derek Farmer filed a notice of appearance
as co-counsel for Colston and motion to continue trial date. (Docket Entry No. 19).
{¶32} On August 31, 2018, the trial court granted the request and continued the
trial until September 18, 2018. (Docket Entry No. 30).
{¶33} On September 13, 2018, a bench warrant was issued for Colston. (Docket
Entry No. 42; 45).
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 10
{¶34} On September 14, 2018, Colston filed a third motion for continuance of the
trial date. (Docket Entry No. 44). Among the reasons given by Colston for requesting the
continuance was that he needed time to locate the other person shown in the video
footage taken of the CI’s home during the drug transactions. Motion to Continue Trial
Date, Filed Sept. 14, 2018 at 2-3. (Docket No. 45). Counsel for Colston set forth the
names of seven individuals that they claimed were necessary to locate and interview.
Motion at 3.
{¶35} On September 17, 2018, Colston filed a motion to continue. Counsel for
Colston informed the trial court that he was scheduled to begin a jury trial in the Franklin
County Court of Common Pleas on September 17, 2018. Motion for Continuance, filed
Sept. 17, 2018. (Docket No. 48).
{¶36} On October 18, 2018, the trial court continued the trial date previously set
for September 18, 2018 to December 18, 2018. (Docket Entry No. 58).
{¶37} On December 13, 2018, Colston filed a fourth motion for continuance
combined with a Motion to appoint an Investigator, and Motion to Appoint Counsel, or in
the alternative, permit Colston’s co-counsel to withdraw.(Docket No. 70). The state also
filed for a continuance when its witness suffered a medical emergency that week. (Docket
Entry No. 73).
{¶38} The trial court granted the motion and the trial was continued until March 5,
2019. Docket No. 77). The trial court granted co-counsel’s motion to withdraw and denied
Colston’s request to appoint an investigator. (Docket No. 75).
{¶39} On February 27, 2019, Colston filed a fifth motion for continuance. (Docket
No. 85). Colston had filed a motion to compel the state to provide addresses of the other
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 11
individuals seen in the video footage. (1T. at 7). The state responded that it did not
possess any addresses and was not intending to call any of the individuals to testify at
trial. (1T. at 7; 9-11). The trial court denied the motion noting that the motion to continue
was filed four days before trial. (1T. at 8).
{¶40} Among the factors to be considered by the court in determining whether the
continuance was properly denied are: (1) the length of the requested delay, (2) whether
other continuances had been requested and granted, (3) the convenience or
inconvenience to the parties, witnesses, counsel and court, (4) whether the delay was for
legitimate reasons or whether it was “dilatory, purposeful or contrived”, (5) whether the
defendant contributed to the circumstances giving rise to the request, (6) whether denying
the continuance will result in an identifiable prejudice to the defendant's case, and (7) the
complexity of the case. Powell v. Collins, 332 F.3d 376, 396(6th Cir.2003); State v. Unger,
67 Ohio St.2d 65, 67–68, 423 N.E.2d 1078, 1080(1981); State v. Wheat, 5th Dist. No.
2003-CA-00057, 2004–Ohio–2088, at ¶ 17.
{¶41} In Wheat, supra, the appellant argued that the trial court erred when it failed
to continue his trial to secure witnesses he had subpoenaed. This court found no abuse
of discretion because the request for a continuance did not demonstrate the amount of
time necessary to secure the attendance of the witnesses, or the nature of their testimony.
2004–Ohio–2088 at ¶21. Citing State v. Brooks, 44 Ohio St.3d 185, 542 N.E.2d
636(1989), we held that because defense counsel failed to proffer what the desired
testimony of the absent witnesses would have been and how it was relevant to the
defense, we could not find prejudice from the denial of the motion to continue. Id. at ¶ 22–
24, 542 N.E.2d 636.
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 12
{¶42} “When the reason for a continuance is to secure the attendance of a
witness, ‘it is incumbent upon the moving party to show that such witnesses would have
given substantial favorable evidence and that they were available and willing to testify.’”
State v. Komadina, 9th Dist. No. 02CA008104, 2003–Ohio–1800, ¶32, quoting State v.
Mills, 5th Dist. No. 01–COA–01444, 2002–Ohio–5556. Because Colston’s counsel did not
make a timely proffer of any anticipated testimony, the trial court could not have known
how or why said testimony was vital to Colston’s defense when it denied the continuance.
State v. Snowden, 49 Ohio App.2d 7, 17, 359 N.E.2d 87(1st Dist. 1976) (not an abuse of
discretion to deny continuance due to absence of purportedly “critical defense witness”
where no proffer made of witness' anticipated testimony at the time of decision). In the
case at bar, the trial court was not told the nature of any witness’s testimony or the length
of time it would take to produce any witness.
{¶43} Given that the trial court was never specifically advised as to the purported
content of any purported witness’s testimony, we do not have anything by way of evidence
by which to demonstrate that Colston was prejudiced by the failure to present testimony
during his trial. Further, the state presented audio and video evidence, still pictures, the
testimony of the CI and Detective Wilhite to prove that Colston exchanged cocaine for
money. No explanation, facts, or details has been suggested by Colston as to what
evidence, facts, or support any of the other individuals seen in the video footage could
have provided that would have exculpated Colston. Further Colston had been aware of
the names of the individuals from at least September 14, 2018.
{¶44} Colston’s First Assignment of Error is overruled.
II.
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 13
{¶45} In his Second Assignment of Error, Colston argues the trial court erred by
requiring him to show his tattoos in front of the jury thereby violating his right against selfincrimination.
2.1 Standard of Appellate Review.
{¶46} “[A] trial court is vested with broad discretion in determining the admissibility
of evidence in any particular case, so long as such discretion is exercised in line with the
rules of procedure and evidence.” Rigby v. Lake Cty., 58 Ohio St.3d 269, 271, 569 N.E.2d
1056 (1991). “‘When a court’s judgment is based on an erroneous interpretation of the
law, an abuse-of-discretion standard is not appropriate. See Swartzentruber v. Orrville
Grace Brethren Church, 163 Ohio App.3d 96, 2005-Ohio-4264, 836 N.E.2d 619, ¶ 6;
Huntsman v. Aultman Hosp., 5th Dist. No. 2006 CA 00331, 2008-Ohio-2554, 2008 WL
2572598, ¶ 50.’ Med. Mut. of Ohio v. Schlotterer, 122 Ohio St.3d 181, 2009-Ohio-2496,
909 N.E.2d 1237, ¶ 13.” State v. Fugate, 117 Ohio St.3d 261, 2008-Ohio-856, 883 N.E.2d
440, ¶6.
{¶47} Colston frames the evidentiary issue as a violation of a constitutional right.
We review de novo evidentiary rulings that implicate the Constitution. See, State v.
McKelton, 148 Ohio St.3d 261, 2016-Ohio-5735, 70 N.E.3d 508, ¶97 (Confrontation
Clause); See also, United States v. Blackwell, 459 F.3d 739, 752 (6th Cir. 2006) (noting
that the abuse of discretion standard generally applicable to a district court’s evidentiary
rulings is not at odds with de novo review of constitutional questions because district
courts do “not have the discretion to rest [their] evidentiary decisions on incorrect
interpretations of the Constitution”).
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 14
{¶48} However, insofar as factual issues must be determined by the trial court as
a predicate to resolving the legal question of the privilege against self-incrimination, such
factual determinations should be accorded deference. MA Equip. Leasing I, LLC v. Tilton,
10th Dist., 2012-Ohio-4668, 980 N.E.2d 1072, ¶ 18; Block Communications, Inc. v.
Pounds, 2015-Ohio-2679, 34 N.E.3d 984, ¶ 44; Hurt v. Liberty Township, Delaware
County, OH, 5th Dist. Delaware No. 17 CAI 05 0031, 2017-Ohio-7820, ¶ 32.
2.2 Issue for Appellate Review: Whether having Colston roll up his right sleeve
and display his arm and hand tattoos to the jury violated Colston’s right to be free from
compelled self-incrimination.
{¶49} During the re-direct of Detective Wilhite, the state requested that Colston,
who did not testify during his trial, display his hand and arm tattoos. 2T. at 266-267. The
trial judge order Colston to step up toward the jury, roll up his right sleeve and display his
tattoos. 2T. at 267. Colston argues that this violated his right against self-incrimination.
[Appellant’s brief at 5].
{¶50} The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides in part that
no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” U.S.
Const. Amend. V. The right against self-incrimination bars only “compelled incriminating
communications...that are ‘testimonial’ in character.” United States v. Hubbell, 530 U.S.
27, 34, 120 S.Ct. 2037, 147 L.Ed.2d 24 (2000). Put differently, to qualify for protection
under the Fifth Amendment, a statement or other communication must be: (1) testimonial;
(2) incriminating; and (3) compelled. Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial Dist. Ct., 542 U.S. 177, 189,
124 S.Ct. 2451, 159 L.Ed.2d 292 (2004). “The prohibition of compelling a man in a
criminal court to be a witness against himself is a prohibition of the use of physical or
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 15
moral compulsion to extort communications from him, not an exclusion of his body as
evidence when it may be material.” Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757, 763, 86 S.Ct.
1826, 16 L.Ed.2d 908 (1966) (quoting Holt v. United States, 218 U.S. 245, 252–53, 31
S.Ct. 2, 54 L.Ed. 1021 (1910)).
{¶51} The sole support that Colston’s cites to support his contention is State v.
Naylor, 70 Ohio App.2d 233, 436 N.E.2d 539(9th Dist. 1980). We find Naylor to be
inapposite because it involved an in-court voice identification which took place in the
presence of the jury. The court in Naylor noted that Naylor was required to repeat the
“emotion-inspiring words used during the commission of the crimes” and that the
witnesses merely testified that the voice sounded like the voice of one burglar-rapist but
failed to make a positive voice identification. However, in its decision, the court
distinguished cases where the voice identification occurs during trial from those where
the identification is a pre-trial procedure. The court stated that the latter has been upheld
as lawful. State v. Kidd, 8thDist. Cuyahoga No. 47281, 1984 WL 5023 (Mar 29, 1984) at
*3. This issue was addressed by the United States Supreme Court in United States v.
Wade, 388 U.S. 218, 87 S.Ct. 1926, 18 L.Ed.2d 1149(1967). The court ruled that requiring
a defendant to speak within hearing distance of witnesses, solely for the purpose of
identifying a voice, does not violate the defendant’s Fifth Amendment right against selfincrimination.
{¶52} The privilege does not protect a criminal suspect from being compelled to
exhibit physical characteristics for inspection. United States v. Hubbell, 530 U.S. 27, 34-
35, 120 S.Ct. 2037, 147 L.EEd.2d 24(2000). See, also, United States v. Wade, 388 U.S.
218, 221-23 (1967) (lineup; voice recording); Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757, 760-
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 16
65, 86 S.Ct. 1826, 16 L.Ed.2d 908 (1966) (blood-alcohol test); Holt v. United States, 218
U.S. 245, 252-53, 31 S.Ct. 2, 54 L.Ed. 21 (1910) (putting on clothing used in crime). For
that reason, the Fifth Amendment is not offended where a witness relies on a tattoo to
identify a defendant. United States v. Greer, 631 F.3d 608, 612(2nd Cir. 2011); United
States v. McCarthy, 473 F.2d 300, n.3 (2nd Cir. 1972); United States v. Velasquez, 881
F.3d 314, 338 (5th Cir. 2018); State v. McKelton, 148 Ohio St.3d 261, 2016-Ohio-5735,
70 N.E.3d 508, ¶ 195-196; State v. Buck, 1st Dist. Hamilton No. C-160320, 2017-Ohio8242, 100 N.E. 3d 118, ¶111; State v. Doan, 12th Dist. Clinton No. CA97-12-014, 2000
WL 221963, *14 (Feb. 28, 2000).
{¶53} In the case at bar, the CI did not know Colston. 2T. at 290. Detective Wilhite
was able to find booking photographs and tattoo records from law enforcement databases
that matched those he saw in the video. The records identified Colston. Colston’s tattoos
are visible in the video and photographic evidence showing him exchange cocaine for
money with the CI. Colston concedes that showing the tattoos to the jury was for the
purpose of identifying Colston as the person in the video and photographic evidence.
[Appellant’s brief at 5].
{¶54} Showing the tattoos to the jury is analogous to displaying other physical
characteristics of the accused. In this case the tattoo was only used to identify Colston.
Accordingly, in that situation, evidence regarding the identifying tattoo falls outside the
scope of the privilege to be free from compelled self-incrimination.
{¶55} Colston’s Second Assignment of Error is overruled.
III.
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 17
{¶56} In the case at bar, Colston contends that the prosecution alleged that
Colston participated in two drug transactions on two separate days. However, the
prosecution only indicted Colston on one count of “complicity”3 to drug trafficking and one
count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity based on drug trafficking. In his Third
Assignment of Error, Colston contends that the trial court erred in not instructing the jury
that they must unanimously agree on which transaction or transactions Colston
participated. [Appellant’s Brief at 6-7]. Colston concedes he did not object to the jury
instructions or proffer the trial court a jury instruction on this issue4.
{¶57} Colston does not cite any statutory, case law or learned treaties from this or
any other jurisdiction to support his argument. Accordingly, Colston’s brief does not
comply with App.R. (A)(7), which provides,
The appellant shall include in its brief, under the headings and in the
order indicated, all of the following: * * * An argument containing the
contentions of the appellant with respect to each assignment of error
presented for review and the reasons in support of the contentions, with
citations to the authorities, statutes, and parts of the record on which
appellant relies. The argument may be preceded by a summary.
{¶58} “If an argument exists that can support [an] assignment of error, it is not
this court's duty to root it out.” Thomas v. Harmon, 4th Dist. Lawrence No. 08CA17, 2009-
Ohio-3299, at ¶14, quoting State v. Carman, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 90512, 2008-Ohio-
3 Colston incorrectly refers to his conviction in Count 1 of the Indictment as “complicity” when in
fact Colston was indicted and convicted of Conspiracy to trafficking in cocaine pursuant to R.C. 2923.01.
See, Appellant’s Brief at 6.
4 Nor does he assign as error on appeal that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to raise this issue
in the trial court.
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 18
4368, at ¶31. “It is not the function of this court to construct a foundation for [an
appellant's] claims; failure to comply with the rules governing practice in the appellate
courts is a tactic which is ordinarily fatal.” Catanzarite v. Boswell, 9th Dist. Summit No.
24184, 2009-Ohio-1211, at ¶16, quoting Kremer v. Cox, 114 Ohio App.3d 41, 60, 682
N.E.2d 1006(9th Dist. 1996). Therefore, “[w]e may disregard any assignment of error that
fails to present any citations to case law or statutes in support of its assertions.” Frye v.
Holzer Clinic, Inc., 4th Dist. Gallia No. 07CA4, 2008-Ohio-2194, at ¶12. See, also, App.R.
16(A)(7); App.R. 12(A)(2); Albright v. Albright, 4th Dist. Lawrence No. 06CA35, 2007-
Ohio-3709, at ¶16; Tally v. Patrick, 11th Dist. Trumbull No. 2008-T-0072, 2009-Ohio1831, at ¶21-22; Jarvis v. Stone, 9th Dist. Summit No. 23904, 2008-Ohio-3313, at ¶23;
State v. Paulsen, 4th Dist. Hocking Nos. 09CA15, 09CA16, 2010-Ohio-806, ¶6; State v.
Norman, 5th Dist. Guernsey No. 2010-CA-22, 2011-Ohio-596, ¶29; State v. Untied, 5th
Dist. Muskingum No. CT20060005, 2007 WL 1122731, ¶141.
{¶59} An appellate court may rely upon App.R. 12(A) in overruling or disregarding
an assignment of error because of "the lack of briefing" on the assignment of error.
Hawley v. Ritley, 35 Ohio St.3d 157, 159, 519 N.E.2d 390, 392-393(1988); Abon, Ltd. v.
Transcontinental Ins. Co., 5th Dist. Richland No. 2004-CA-0029, 2005 WL 1414486,
¶100; State v. Miller, 5th Dist. Ashland No. 04-COA-003, 2004-Ohio-4636, ¶41. "Errors
not treated in the brief will be regarded as having been abandoned by the party who gave
them birth.” Uncapher v. Baltimore & Ohio Rd. Co., 127 Ohio St. 351, 356, 188 N.E. 553,
555(1933).
{¶60} In the interests of justice we will proceed to consider this assignment of
error.
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 19
3.1 Standard of Appellate Review.
{¶61} In Neder v. United States, 527 U.S. 1, 119 S.Ct. 1827, 144 L.Ed.2d
35(1999) the United States Supreme Court held that because the failure to properly
instruct the jury is not in most instances structural error, the harmless-error rule of
Chapman v. California, 386 U.S. 18, 87 S.Ct. 824, 17 L.Ed.2d 705 applies to a failure to
properly instruct the jury, for it does not necessarily render a trial fundamentally unfair or
an unreliable vehicle for determining guilt or innocence.
{¶62} Crim.R. 52(B) provides that, “[p]lain errors or defects affecting substantial
rights may be noticed although they were not brought to the attention of the court.” “Notice
of plain error under Crim.R. 52(B) is to be taken with the utmost caution, under exceptional
circumstances and only to prevent a manifest miscarriage of justice.” State v. Long, 53
Ohio St.2d 91, 372 N.E.2d 804(1978), paragraph three of the syllabus. In order to find
plain error under Crim.R. 52(B), it must be determined, but for the error, the outcome of
the trial clearly would have been otherwise. Id. at paragraph two of the syllabus. The
defendant bears the burden of demonstrating that a plain error affected his substantial
rights. United States v. Olano, 507 U.S. at 725, 734, 113 S.Ct. 1770, 123 L.Ed.2d
308(1993); State v. Perry, 101 Ohio St.3d 118, 120 802 N.E.2d 643, 646(2004). Even if
the defendant satisfies this burden, an appellate court has discretion to disregard the error
and should correct it only to ‘prevent a manifest miscarriage of justice.’” State v. Barnes,
94 Ohio St.3d 21, 27, 759 N.E.2d 1240(2002), quoting State v. Long, 53 Ohio St.2d 91,
372 N.E.2d 804(1978), paragraph three of the syllabus. Perry, supra, at 118, 802 N.E.2d
at 646.
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 20
{¶63} An erroneous jury instruction does not constitute plain error unless, but for
the error, the outcome of the trial clearly would have been otherwise. State v.
Cunningham, 105 Ohio St.3d 197, 824 N.E.2d 504, 2004–Ohio–7007, ¶ 56. See, also,
State v. Adams, 62 Ohio St.2d 151, 154, 404 N.E.2d 144(1980) (holding that a trial court’s
failure to specifically charge the jury on every element of an offense is not per se plain
error, but could result in plain error if the failure substantially prejudiced the defendant).
Appellate courts notice plain error “‘with the utmost caution, under exceptional
circumstances [,] and only to prevent a manifest miscarriage of justice.’” State v. Barnes,
94 Ohio St.3d 21, 27, 759 N.E.2d 1240, 2002–Ohio–68, quoting State v. Long, 53 Ohio
St.2d 91, 372 N.E.2d 804(1978), paragraph three of the syllabus.
3.2 Issue for Appellate Review: Whether the trial court committed a manifest
miscarriage of justice by failing to specifically instruct the jury that they must unanimously
agree on the same specific incident of conspiracy to trafficking in cocaine and engaging
in a pattern of corrupt activity of trafficking in cocaine.
{¶64} In the case at bar, the jury unanimously convicted Colston of conspiracy to
drug trafficking as well as engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. The jury also found
that the offenses pertained to trafficking cocaine in an amount greater than 100 grams.
{¶65} In the case at bar, the trial court instructed the jury:
One or more of the offenses I have defined for you provide alternative
ways of committing the crime. For example, conspiracy to traffic in drugs
can be committed by the planning of trafficking in drugs, or by facilitating
the trafficking in drugs. Before you can find the Defendant guilty of an
offense involving alternative ways of commission, you must all agree that at
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 21
least one of the alternatives has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
However, you need not be unanimous as to which alternative is established
beyond a reasonable doubt.
2T. at 403. The trial court’s instructions to the jury taken as a whole correctly stated the
law. We have reviewed the record of this case and find the evidence of Colston’s guilt
to be substantial. We find the trial court’s instruction did not rise to level of plain error
because the outcome of the trial would not have been otherwise absent the instruction.
See, State v. Broucker, 5th Dist. Stark No. 2007CA00315, 2008–Ohio–2946, ¶ 38.
{¶66} Evidence was presented that on two occasions the CI arranged to purchase
specific amounts of cocaine from Claytor. The pair arranged the price, amount and
location for the transaction. Colston arrived on both occasions to deliver the cocaine and
collect the money. Video and photographic evidence was submitted to corroborate the
fact that Colston exchanged cocaine for money on both occasions.
{¶67} We decline to find plain error in the trial court’s jury instructions because no
manifest miscarriage of justice occurred.
{¶68} Colston’s Third Assignment of Error is overruled.
IV.
{¶69} In his Fourth Assignment of Error, Colston argues that the trial court erred
in giving the jury an instruction on flight from the jurisdiction. Colston did object to the
instruction on the record.
4.1 Standard of Appellate Review.
{¶70} “[A]fter arguments are completed, a trial court must fully and completely give
the jury all instructions which are relevant and necessary for the jury to weigh the evidence
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 22
and discharge its duty as the fact finder.” State v. Comen, 50 Ohio St.3d 206, 553 N.E.2d
640(1990), paragraph two of the syllabus.
{¶71} In Neder v. United States, 527 U.S. 1, 119 S.Ct. 1827, 144 L.Ed.2d
25(1999), the United State Supreme Court held that because the failure to properly
instruct the jury is not in most instances structural error, the harmless-error rule of
Chapman v. California, 386 U.S. 18, 87 S.Ct. 824, 17 L.Ed.2d 705(1967) applies to a
failure to properly instruct the jury, for it does not necessarily render a trial fundamentally
unfair or an unreliable vehicle for determining guilt or innocence.
{¶72} It is well established that evidence of flight is admissible, as it tends to show
consciousness of guilt. Sibron v. New York, 392 U.S. 40, 66, 88 S.Ct. 1889, 20 L.Ed.2d
917(1967). Further, a jury instruction on flight is appropriate if there is sufficient evidence
in the record to support the charge. See United States v. Dillon, 870 F.2d 1125(6th
Cir.1989). The decision whether to issue a flight instruction rests within the sound
discretion of the trial court and will not be reversed absent an abuse of discretion. State
v. Sims, 13 Ohio App.3d 287, 289, 469 N.E.2d 554(1st Dist.1984). Abuse of discretion
requires more than simply an error in judgment; it implies unreasonable, arbitrary, or
unconscionable conduct by the court. Blakemore v. Blakemore, 5 Ohio St.3d 217, 219,
450 N.E.2d 1140(1983).
{¶73} “Harmless error is ‘[a]ny error, defect, irregularity, or variance which does
not affect substantial rights’ and ‘shall be disregarded.’ ” State v. Wolford, 10th Dist.
Franklin No. 19AP-284, 2020-Ohio-888, ¶ 10, quoting Crim.R. 52(A). “Overcoming
harmless error requires a showing of undue prejudice or a violation of a substantial right.”
Id., quoting State v. Koss, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 13AP-970, 2014-Ohio-5042, ¶ 41; In re
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 23
P.T., 9th Dist. Summit No. 24207, 2008-Ohio-4690, ¶ 17. “Reviewing courts normally
disregard trial errors that are harmless.” O’Neal v. McAninch, 513 U.S. 432, 434, 115
S.Ct. 992, 130 L.Ed.2d 947 (1995).
4.2 Issue for Appellate Review: Whether but for the instruction on flight, the
verdict would have been different.
{¶74} Evidence was presented that on two occasions the CI arranged to purchase
specific amounts of cocaine from Claytor. The pair arranged the price, amount and
location for the transaction. Colston arrived on both occasions to deliver the cocaine and
collect the money. Video and photographic evidence was submitted to corroborate the
fact that Colston exchanged cocaine for money on both occasions.
{¶75} It appears “beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury instruction on “flight”
did not contribute to the verdict obtained.” Chapman v. California, 386 U.S. 18, 24, 87
S.Ct. 824, 17 L.Ed .2d 705 (1967); see Delaware v. Van Arsdall, 475 U.S. 673, 681, 106
S.Ct. 1431, 89 L.Ed.2d 674 (1986) (“[A]n otherwise valid conviction should not be set
aside if the reviewing court may confidently say, on the whole record, that the
constitutional error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt”).
{¶76} Thus we find that even if it was error to instruct the jury on flight was error,
we would conclude that it was harmless error beyond a reasonable doubt.
{¶77} Colston’s Fourth Assignment of Error is overruled.
V. & VI.
{¶78} In his Fifth Assignment of Error, Colston argues that there is insufficient
evidence to support his convictions for conspiracy to trafficking in cocaine and engaging
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 24
in a pattern of corrupt activity. In his Sixth Assignment of Error, Colston contends that his
convictions are against the manifest weight of the evidence.
5.1 Standard of Appellate Review – Sufficiency of the Evidence.
{¶79} The Sixth Amendment provides: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused
shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury....” This right, in
conjunction with the Due Process Clause, requires that each of the material elements of
a crime be proved to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. Alleyne v. United States, 570
U.S. __, 133 S.Ct. 2151, 2156, 186 L.Ed.2d 314 (2013); Hurst v. Florida, 136 S.Ct. 616,
621, 193 L.Ed.2d 504 (2016). The test for the sufficiency of the evidence involves a
question of law for resolution by the appellate court. State v. Walker, 150 Ohio St.3d 409,
2016-Ohio-8295, 82 N.E.3d 1124, ¶30. “This naturally entails a review of the elements
of the charged offense and a review of the state's evidence.” State v. Richardson, 150
Ohio St.3d 554, 2016-Ohio-8448, 84 N.E.3d 993, ¶13.
{¶80} When reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, an appellate court does not
ask whether the evidence should be believed. State v. Jenks, 61 Ohio St.3d 259, 574
N.E.2d 492 (1991), paragraph two of the syllabus; Walker, ¶30. “The relevant inquiry is
whether, after viewing the evidence in the 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.” Jenks at paragraph two of the syllabus. State v. Poutney, 153 Ohio
St.3d 474, 2018-Ohio-22, 97 N.E.3d 478, ¶19. Thus, “on review for evidentiary sufficiency
we do not second-guess the jury's credibility determinations; rather, we ask whether, ‘if
believed, [the evidence] would convince the average mind of the defendant's guilt beyond
a reasonable doubt.’” State v. Murphy, 91 Ohio St.3d 516, 543, 747 N.E.2d 765 (2001),
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 25
quoting Jenks at paragraph two of the syllabus; Walker, ¶31. We will not “disturb a verdict
on appeal on sufficiency grounds unless ‘reasonable minds could not reach the
conclusion reached by the trier-of-fact.’” State v. Ketterer, 111 Ohio St.3d 70, 2006-Ohio5283, 855 N.E.2d 48, ¶ 94, quoting State v. Dennis, 79 Ohio St.3d 421, 430, 683 N.E.2d
1096 (1997); State v. Montgomery, 148 Ohio St.3d 347, 2016-Ohio-5487, 71 N.E.3d 180,
¶74.
5.2 Issue for Appeal: Whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to the prosecution, the evidence, if believed, would convince the average mind
of Colston’s guilt on each element of the crimes for which he was convicted beyond a
reasonable doubt.
{¶81} Specifically, Colston argues that “there is insufficient evidence that the
drugs obtained from the confidential informant, did, in fact, come from Colston.”
[Appellant’s brief at 10].
5.2.1 Conspiracy.
{¶82} To be convicted of conspiracy to trafficking in cocaine in an amount greater
than 100 grams the jury would need to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Colston,
with purpose to commit or to promote or facilitate the commission
of…a felony drug trafficking, manufacturing, processing, or possession
offense…
(1) With another person or persons, plan or aid in planning the
commission of any of the specified offenses;
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 26
(2) Agree with another person or persons that one or more of them
will engage in conduct that facilitates the commission of any of the specified
offenses.
(B) No person shall be convicted of conspiracy unless a substantial
overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy is alleged and proved to have
been done by the accused or a person with whom the accused conspired,
subsequent to the accused’s entrance into the conspiracy. For purposes of
this section, an overt act is substantial when it is of a character that
manifests a purpose on the part of the actor that the object of the conspiracy
should be completed.
R.C. 2923.01. Trafficking in cocaine in Colston’s case is defined as, knowingly sell or
offer to sell cocaine in an amount equaling 100 grams. R.C. 2925.03(A)(1)(C)(4)(g).
{¶83} In the case at bar, the CI testified that he would telephone Claytor. The CI
and Claytor would discuss the amount, price, and where the exchange would occur. At
the scheduled time and place Colston would arrive with the agreed to amount of cocaine
and would ask for the agreed upon amount of money. Colston’s tattoos are visible in the
video and photographic evidence showing him exchange cocaine for money with the CI.
Detective Wilhite corroborated the CI’s testimony. Video and photographic evidence was
presented showing Colston exchange cocaine and discussing possible future drug
transactions with the CI. 1T. at 188-189; 207.
{¶84} Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, we
conclude that a reasonable person could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that
Colston conspired with Claytor to sell cocaine in a greater than 100 grams. We hold,
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 27
therefore, that the state met its burden of production regarding each element of the crimes
of conspiracy to trafficking in cocaine and, accordingly, there was sufficient evidence to
support Colston’s conviction.
5.2.2. Engaging in a Pattern of Corrupt Activity.
{¶85} R.C. 2923.32(A) (1), provides “No person employed by, or associated with,
any enterprise shall conduct or participate in, directly or indirectly, the affairs of the
enterprise through a pattern of corrupt activity or the collection of an unlawful debt.”
“Enterprise” is defined as including,
Any individual, sole proprietorship, partnership, limited partnership,
corporation, trust, union, government agency, or other legal entity, or any
organization, association, or group of persons associated in fact although
not a legal entity. “Enterprise” includes illicit as well as licit enterprises.
R.C. 2923.31(C). As the Ohio Supreme Court has observed,
A RICO offense is dependent upon a defendant committing two or
more predicate offenses listed in R.C. 2923.31(I). However, a RICO offense
also requires a defendant to be “employed by, or associated with” an
“enterprise” and to “conduct or participate in” an “enterprise through a
pattern of corrupt activity.” R.C. 2923.32(A)(1). “Such pattern must include
both a relationship and continuous activity, as well as proof of the existence
of an enterprise. Thus, the conduct required to commit a RICO violation is
independent of the conduct required to commit [the underlying predicate
offenses].” State v. Dudas, 11th Dist. Lake Nos. 2008–L–109 and 2008–L–
110, 2009-Ohio-1001, ¶ 46. * * * The intent of RICO is “‘to criminalize the
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 28
pattern of criminal activity, not the underlying predicate acts.’ ” State v.
Thomas, 3d Dist. Allen Nos. 1–11–25 and 1–11–26, 2012-Ohio-5577, ¶ 61,
quoting State v. Dodson, 12th Dist. Butler No. 2009–07–1147, 2011-Ohio6222, ¶ 68.
State v. Miranda, 138 Ohio St.3d 184, 2014-Ohio-451, 5 N.E.3d 603, ¶ 13. The Supreme
Court of Ohio has emphasized, “merely committing successive or related crimes is not
sufficient to” prove there was a pattern of corrupt activity. State v. Schlosser, 79 Ohio
St.3d 329, 333, 681 N.E.2d 911 (1997).
{¶86} Pursuant to R.C. 2923.31(E), “ ‘[p]attern of corrupt activity’ means two or
more incidents of corrupt activity * * * that are related to the affairs of the same enterprise,
are not isolated, and are not so closely related to each other and connected in time and
place that they constitute a single event.” R.C. 2923.32 requires that the defendant be
“associated” with an “enterprise.” R.C. 2923.32(A)(1); State v. Sparks, 12th Dist., 2014-
Ohio-1130, 10 N.E.3d 755, ¶ 19, citing State v. Campbell, 5th Dist. No. 07-CA-A-08-0041,
2008-Ohio-2143, ¶23. Under R.C. 2923.31(C), “ ‘[e]nterprise’ includes any individual,
sole proprietorship, partnership, limited partnership, corporation, trust, union, government
agency, or other legal entity, or any organization, association, or group of persons
associated in fact although not a legal entity.” The state has “to prove that each defendant
was voluntarily connected to the pattern [of corrupt activity comprising the enterprise],
and performed two or more acts in furtherance of it.” State v. Sieferd, 151 Ohio App.3d
103, 783 N.E.2d 591, 2002-Ohio-6801, ¶ 43, quoting State v. Schlosser, 79 Ohio St.3d
329, 334, 681 N.E.2d 911 (1997).
{¶87} In State v. Groce, the 10th District Court of Appeals observed,
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 29
In Boyle v. United States, 556 U.S. 938, 129 S.Ct. 2237, 173 L.Ed.2d
1265 (2009), the United States Supreme Court set forth a test for
determining when there is an association-in-fact enterprise. Appellate
courts of this state have concluded the Boyle test applies to the definition of
enterprise utilized in R.C. 2923.31(C). See State v. Dodson, 12th Dist. No.
CA2010-08-191, 2011-Ohio-6222, 2011 WL 6017950, ¶ 20; State v.
Yavorcik, 8th Dist., 2018-Ohio-1824, 113 N.E.3d 100, ¶ 80; State v.
Christian, 2d Dist. No. 25256, 2016-Ohio-516, 56 N.E.3d 391, ¶ 26; State
v. Kozic, 7th Dist. No. 11 MA 135, 2014-Ohio-3807, 2014 WL 4347618, ¶
105-07; State v. Birdsong, 11th Dist. No. 2013-L-003, 2014-Ohio-1353,
2014 WL 1348846, ¶ 46. Under the Boyle test, “an association-in-fact
enterprise must have at least three structural features: a purpose,
relationships among those associated with the enterprise, and longevity
sufficient to permit these associates to pursue the enterprise’s purpose.”
Boyle at 946, 129 S.Ct. 2237.
10th Dist. Franklin No. 18AP-51, 2019-Ohio-007, ¶ 21. “The existence of an enterprise,
sufficient to sustain a conviction for engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity under R.C.
2923.32(A)(1), can be established without proving that the enterprise is a structure
separate and distinct from a pattern of corrupt activity.” State v. Beverly, 143 Ohio St.3d
258, 2015-Ohio-219, 37 N.E.3d 116, syllabus.
{¶88} In the case at bar, the “purpose” of the criminal enterprise was to sell
cocaine. An “association-in-fact enterprise is a ‘group of persons associated together for
a common purpose of engaging in a course of conduct.’ ” Boyle v. United States, 556
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 30
U.S. 938, 946, 129 S.Ct. 2237 (2009), quoting United States v. Turkette, 452 U.S. 576,
583, 101 S.Ct. 2524 (1981). In the case at bar, Claytor set-up the sale of cocaine to the
CI on September 9, 2016 and September 15, 2016. Colston arrived on each occasion
with the cocaine, which he exchanged for money with the CI. On September 15, 2016,
Claytor telephoned the CI while in Colston’s car to discuss a discrepancy in price. 1T. at
204-205. Detective Wilhite was able to pull alongside Colston’s car while it was at a red
light.
{¶89} Accordingly, in the case at bar, the pattern of corrupt activity under R.C.
2923.32(A)(1) included both a relationship and continuous activity, as well as proof of the
existence of an enterprise.
{¶90} Viewing the evidence in the case at bar in a light most favorable to the
prosecution, we conclude that a reasonable person could have found beyond a
reasonable doubt that Colston committed the crime of engaging in a pattern of corrupt
activity as alleged in the Indictment. We hold, therefore, that the state met its burden of
production regarding each element of the crime of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity
as alleged in the Indictment and, accordingly, there was sufficient evidence to submit the
charge to the jury and to support Colston’s’ conviction.
6.1 Standard of Appellate Review – Manifest Weight.
{¶91} As to the weight of the evidence, the issue is whether the jury created a
manifest miscarriage of justice in resolving conflicting evidence, even though the
evidence of guilt was legally sufficient. State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 386–387,
678 N.E.2d 541 (1997), superseded by constitutional amendment on other grounds as
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 31
stated by State v. Smith, 80 Ohio St.3d 89, 684 N.E.2d 668, 1997–Ohio–355; State v.
Issa, 93 Ohio St.3d 49, 67, 752 N.E.2d 904 (2001).
“[I]n determining whether the judgment below is manifestly against
the weight of the evidence, every reasonable intendment and every
reasonable presumption must be made in favor of the judgment and the
finding of facts.
* * *
“If the evidence is susceptible of more than one construction, the
reviewing court is bound to give it that interpretation which is consistent with
the verdict and judgment, most favorable to sustaining the verdict and
judgment.”
Seasons Coal Co., Inc. v. Cleveland, 10 Ohio St.3d 77, 80, 461 N.E.2d 1273 (1984), fn.
3, quoting 5 Ohio Jurisprudence 3d, Appellate Review, Section 60, at 191–192 (1978).
{¶92} The reviewing court must bear in mind, however, that credibility generally is
an issue for the trier of fact to resolve. State v. Issa, 93 Ohio St.3d 49, 67, 752 N.E.2d
904 (2001); State v. Murphy, 4th Dist. Ross No. 07CA2953, 2008–Ohio–1744, ¶ 31.
Because the trier of fact sees and hears the witnesses and is particularly competent to
decide whether, and to what extent, to credit the testimony of particular witnesses, the
appellate court must afford substantial deference to its determinations of credibility.
Barberton v. Jenney, 126 Ohio St.3d 5, 2010–Ohio–2420, 929 N.E.2d 1047, ¶ 20. In
other words, “[w]hen there exist two fairly reasonable views of the evidence or two
conflicting versions of events, neither of which is unbelievable, it is not our province to
choose which one we believe.” State v. Dyke, 7th Dist. Mahoning No. 99 CA 149, 2002–
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 32
Ohio–1152, at ¶ 13, citing State v. Gore, 131 Ohio App.3d 197, 201, 722 N.E.2d 125(7th
Dist. 1999). Thus, an appellate court will leave the issues of weight and credibility of the
evidence to the fact finder, as long as a rational basis exists in the record for its decision.
State v. Picklesimer, 4th Dist. Pickaway No. 11CA9, 2012–Ohio–1282, ¶ 24.
{¶93} Once the reviewing court finishes its examination, an appellate court may
not merely substitute its view for that of the jury, but must find that “ ‘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.’” State v. Thompkins, supra, 78 Ohio St.3d at 387,
quoting State v. Martin, 20 Ohio App.3d 172, 175, 485 N.E.2d 717, 720–721(1st Dist.
1983). Accordingly, reversal on manifest weight grounds is reserved for “the exceptional
case in which the evidence weighs heavily against the conviction.” Id.
6.2. Issue for Appellate Review: Whether the jury clearly lost their way and
created such a manifest miscarriage of justice that the convictions must be reversed and
a new trial ordered.
{¶94} The jury as the trier of fact was free to accept or reject any and all of the
evidence offered by the parties and assess the witness’s credibility. “While the trier of
fact may take note of the inconsistencies and resolve or discount them accordingly * * *
such inconsistencies do not render defendant’s conviction against the manifest weight or
sufficiency of the evidence.” State v. Craig, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 99AP–739, 1999 WL
29752 (Mar 23, 2000) citing State v. Nivens, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 95APA09–1236, 1996
WL 284714 (May 28, 1996). Indeed, the trier of fact need not believe all of a witness’
testimony, but may accept only portions of it as true. State v. Raver, 10th Dist. Franklin
No. 02AP–604, 2003–Ohio–958, ¶ 21, citing State v. Antill, 176 Ohio St. 61, 67, 197
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 33
N.E.2d 548 (1964); State v. Burke, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 02AP–1238, 2003–Ohio–2889,
citing State v. Caldwell, 79 Ohio App.3d 667, 607 N.E.2d 1096 (4th Dist. 1992). Although
the evidence may have been circumstantial, we note that circumstantial evidence has the
same probative value as direct evidence. State v. Jenks, 61 Ohio St.3d 259, 272, 574
N.E.2d 492 (1991), paragraph one of the syllabus, superseded by State constitutional
amendment on other grounds as stated in State v. Smith, 80 Ohio St.3d 89, 102 at n.4,
684 N.E.2d 668 (1997).
{¶95} In the case at bar, the jury heard the witnesses and viewed the evidence.
The jury saw the CI and Detective Wilhite subject to cross-examination. The jury was also
able to see the events in real time via video, audio and photographic evidence. The jurors
were able to view Colston’s tattoos. The jury heard Colston’s attorney’s arguments and
explanations about the CI’s credibility, his actions, and the lack of view available to the
undercover law enforcement officers who were monitoring the transactions. Thus, a
rational basis exists in the record for the jury’s decision.
{¶96} We find that this is not an “‘exceptional case in which the evidence weighs
heavily against the conviction.’” State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 386–387, 678
N.E.2d 541 (1997), quoting Martin, 20 Ohio App.3d at 175, 485 N.E.2d 717. Based upon
the foregoing and the entire record in this matter we find Colston’s convictions are not
against the sufficiency or the manifest weight of the evidence. To the contrary, the jury
appears to have fairly and impartially decided the matters before them. The jury heard
the witnesses, evaluated the evidence, and was convinced of Colston’s guilt. The jury
neither lost his way nor created a miscarriage of justice in convicting Colston of the
offenses.
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 34
{¶97} Finally, upon careful consideration of the record in its entirety, we find that
there is substantial evidence presented which if believed, proves all the elements of the
crimes for which Colston was convicted.
{¶98} Colston’s Fifth and Sixth Assignments of Error are overruled.
VII.
{¶99} In his Seventh Assignment of Error, Colston argues the trial court lacked
authority to find that he was a major drug offender. Specifically, Colston maintains R.C.
2941.141 is unconstitutional under Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 477, 120 S.Ct.
2348, 147 L.Ed.2d 435 (2000) because it requires judicial fact-finding that increases a
defendant's mandatory minimum sentence.
{¶100} Because Colston did not raise this issue in the trial court, we are limited to
reviewing his contention for plain error. In re M.D., 38 Ohio St.3d 149, 151, 527 N.E.2d
286(1988).
7.1. Standard of Appellate Review.
{¶101} Crim.R. 52(B) affords appellate courts discretion to correct “[p]lain errors or
defects affecting substantial rights” notwithstanding an accused’s failure to meet his
obligation to bring those errors to the attention of the trial court. However, the accused
bears the burden to demonstrate plain error on the record, State v. Quarterman, 140 Ohio
St.3d 464, 2014-Ohio-4034, 19 N.E.3d 900, ¶ 16, and must show “an error, i.e., a
deviation from a legal rule” that constitutes “an ‘obvious’ defect in the trial proceedings,”
State v. Barnes, 94 Ohio St.3d 21, 27, 759 N.E.2d 1240 (2002).
{¶102} Even if the error is obvious, it must have affected substantial rights, and
“[w]e have interpreted this aspect of the rule to mean that the trial court’s error must have
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 35
affected the outcome of the trial.” Id. The Ohio Supreme Court recently clarified in State
v. Rogers, 143 Ohio St.3d 385, 2015-Ohio-2459, 38 N.E.3d 860, that the accused is
“required to demonstrate a reasonable probability that the error resulted in prejudice—
the same deferential standard for reviewing ineffective assistance of counsel claims.” Id.
at ¶ 22, citing United States v. Dominguez Benitez, 542 U.S. 74, 81–83, 124 S.Ct. 2333,
159 L.Ed.2d 157 (2004). Accord, State v. Thomas, ___ Ohio St.3d ___, 2017-Ohio-8011,
___N.E.3d ____ (Oct. 4, 2017), ¶32-34.
{¶103}If the accused shows that the trial court committed plain error affecting the
outcome of the proceeding, an appellate court is not required to correct it; the Supreme
Court has “admonish[ed] courts to notice plain error ‘with the utmost caution, under
exceptional circumstances and only to prevent a manifest miscarriage of justice.’” Barnes
at 27, 759 N.E.2d 1240, quoting State v. Long, 53 Ohio St.2d 91, 372 N.E.2d 804 (1978),
paragraph three of the syllabus. Accord, State v. Thomas, 152 Ohio St.3d 15, 2017-Ohio8011, 92 N.E.3d 821, ¶32-34.
7.2 Issue for Appellate Review: Whether the trial court increased the penalty for
Colston’s crimes beyond the statutory maximum based upon facts not found by the jury.
{¶104} R.C. 2929.01 provides,
(W) “Major drug offender” means an offender who is convicted of or
pleads guilty to the possession of, sale of, or offer to sell any drug,
compound, mixture, preparation, or substance that consists of or contains
at least one thousand grams of hashish; at least one hundred grams of
cocaine; at least one thousand unit doses or one hundred grams of heroin;
at least five thousand unit doses of L.S.D. or five hundred grams of L.S.D.
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 36
in a liquid concentrate, liquid extract, or liquid distillate form; at least fifty
grams of a controlled substance analog; at least one thousand unit doses
or one hundred grams of a fentanyl-related compound; or at least one
hundred times the amount of any other schedule I or II controlled substance
other than marihuana that is necessary to commit a felony of the third
degree pursuant to section 2925.03, 2925.04, 2925.05, or 2925.11 of the
Revised Code that is based on the possession of, sale of, or offer to sell the
controlled substance. (Emphasis added).
{¶105} R.C. 2941.1410, provides, in relevant part,
(A) Except as provided in sections 2925.03 and 2925.11 and division
(E)(1) of section 2925.05 of the Revised Code, the determination by a court
that an offender is a major drug offender is precluded unless the indictment,
count in the indictment, or information charging the offender specifies that
the offender is a major drug offender. The specification shall be stated at
the end of the body of the indictment, count, or information, and shall be
stated in substantially the following form:
“SPECIFICATION (or, SPECIFICATION TO THE FIRST COUNT).
The Grand Jurors (or insert the person’s or prosecuting attorney’s name
when appropriate) further find and specify that (set forth that the offender is
a major drug offender).”
* * *
(C) The court shall determine the issue of whether an offender is a
major drug offender.
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 37
(D) As used in this section, “major drug offender” has the same
meaning as in section 2929.01 of the Revised Code. (Emphasis added.
{¶106} R.C. 2925.03(A)(1)(C), Trafficking Offenses, provides, in relevant part,
(4) If the drug involved in the violation is cocaine or a compound,
mixture, preparation, or substance containing cocaine, whoever violates
division (A) of this section is guilty of trafficking in cocaine. The penalty for
the offense shall be determined as follows:
* * *
(g) If the amount of the drug involved equals or exceeds one hundred
grams of cocaine and regardless of whether the offense was committed in
the vicinity of a school or in the vicinity of a juvenile, trafficking in cocaine is
a felony of the first degree, the offender is a major drug offender, and the
court shall impose as a mandatory prison term a maximum first degree
felony mandatory prison term.
{¶107}In United States v. Haymond, the United States Supreme Court observed,
In Apprendi, [v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 120 S.Ct. 2348, 147
L.Ed.2d 435(2000)] for example, a jury convicted the defendant of a gun
crime that carried a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. But then a judge
sought to impose a longer sentence pursuant to a statute that authorized
him to do so if he found, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the
defendant had committed the crime with racial bias. Apprendi held this
scheme unconstitutional. “[A]ny fact that increases the penalty for a crime
beyond the prescribed statutory maximum,” this Court explained, “must be
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 38
submitted to a jury, and proved beyond a reasonable doubt” or admitted by
the defendant. 530 U. S., at 490. Nor may a State evade this traditional
restraint on the judicial power by simply calling the process of finding new
facts and imposing a new punishment a judicial “sentencing enhancement.”
Id., at 495. “[T]he relevant inquiry is one not of form, but of effect—does the
required [judicial] finding expose the defendant to a greater punishment
than that authorized by the jury’s guilty verdict?” Id., at 494.
__U.S.__, 139 S.Ct. 2369, 204 L.Ed.2d 897(2019).
{¶108} Unlike Apprendi, the jury in the case at bar was instructed that if they found
Colston guilty of conspiracy to trafficking in cocaine and engaging in a pattern of corrupt
activity, they must also decide whether the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that
the amount of cocaine involved was greater than 100 grams. 2T. at 399; 401. The jury
specifically made this finding on its verdict form. Accordingly, the trial judge did not make
any factual finding. The jury found the facts necessary to sentence Colston as a Major
Drug Offender.
{¶109} R.C. 2941.1410 does not increase the statutory maximum sentence for any
crime based upon facts not submitted to a jury, and proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
State v. Elkins, 148 Ohio App.3d 370, 2002-Ohio-2914, 773 N.E.2d 593, ¶20; State v.
McDermott, 6th Dist. Lucas No. L-03-1110, 2005-Ohio-2095, ¶ 53.
{¶110} Colston’s Seventh Assignment of Error is overruled.
VIII.
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 39
{¶111}In his Eight Assignment of Error, Colston challenges the imposition of the
consecutive terms on the ground that the record does not support the imposition of
consecutive sentences.
8.1 Standard of Appellate Review.
{¶112} We review felony sentences using the standard of review set forth in R.C.
2953.08. State v. Marcum, 146 Ohio St.3d 516, 2016–Ohio–1002, 59 N.E.3d 1231, ¶ 22;
State v. Howell, 5th Dist. Stark No. 2015CA00004, 2015-Ohio-4049, ¶ 31.
{¶113}In State v. Gwynne, a plurality of the Supreme Court of Ohio held that an
appellate court may only review individual felony sentences under R.C. 2929.11 and R.C.
2929.12, while R.C. 2953.08(G)(2) is the exclusive means of appellate review of
consecutive felony sentences. ___ Ohio St.3d ___, 2019-Ohio-4761, ¶16-18; State v.
Anthony, 11th Dist. Lake No. 2019-L-045, 2019-Ohio-5410, ¶60.
{¶114} R.C. 2953.08(G)(2) provides we may either increase, reduce, modify, or
vacate a sentence and remand for resentencing where we clearly and convincingly find
that either the record does not support the sentencing court’s findings under R.C.
2929.13(B) or (D), 2929.14(B)(2)(e) or (C)(4), or 2929.20(I), or the sentence is
otherwise contrary to law. See, also, State v. Bonnell, 140 Ohio St.3d 209, 2014–Ohio–
3177, 16 N.E.2d 659, ¶ 28; State v. Gwynne, ¶16.
{¶115} Clear and convincing evidence is that evidence “which will provide in the
mind of the trier of facts a firm belief or conviction as to the facts sought to be established.”
Cross v. Ledford, 161 Ohio St. 469, 120 N.E.2d 118(1954), paragraph three of the
syllabus. See also, In re Adoption of Holcomb, 18 Ohio St.3d 361 (1985). “Where the
degree of proof required to sustain an issue must be clear and convincing, a reviewing
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 40
court will examine the record to determine whether the trier of facts had sufficient
evidence before it to satisfy the requisite degree of proof.” Cross, 161 Ohio St. at 477
120 N.E.2d 118.
{¶116}In the case at bar, Colston does not contest the length of his individual
sentences; rather his arguments center upon the trial court’s decision to make the
sentences consecutive. [Appellant’s brief at 14]. As the Ohio Supreme Court noted in
Gwynne,
Because R.C. 2953.08(G)(2)(a) specifically mentions a sentencing
judge’s findings made under R.C. 2929.14(C)(4) as falling within a court of
appeals’ review, the General Assembly plainly intended R.C.
2953.08(G)(2)(a) to be the exclusive means of appellate review of
consecutive sentences. See State v. Vanzandt, 142 Ohio St.3d 223, 2015-
Ohio-236, 28 N.E.3d 1267, ¶ 7 (“We primarily seek to determine legislative
intent from the plain language of a statute”).
While R.C. 2953.08(G)(2)(a) clearly applies to consecutivesentencing review, R.C. 2929.11 and 2929.12 both clearly apply only to
individual sentences.
2019-Ohio-4761, ¶¶16-17(emphasis in original).
{¶117}“In order to impose consecutive terms of imprisonment, a trial court is
required to make the findings mandated by R.C. 2929.14(C)(4) at the sentencing hearing
and incorporate its findings into its sentencing entry[.]” State v. Bonnell, 140 Ohio St.3d
209, 2014-Ohio-3177, ¶37. Otherwise, the imposition of consecutive sentences is
contrary to law. See Id. The trial court is not required “to give a talismanic incantation of
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 41
the words of the statute, provided that the necessary findings can be found in the record
and are incorporated into the sentencing entry.” Id.
{¶118} Colston agrees that the trial judge in his case made the requisite findings to
impose consecutive sentences under R.C. 2929.14(C)(4). [Appellant’s Brief at 14].
8.2 Issue for Appellate Review: Whether the trial court’s decision to impose
consecutive sentences in Colston’s case is supported by the record.
{¶119} According to the Ohio Supreme Court, “the record must contain a basis
upon which a reviewing court can determine that the trial court made the findings required
by R.C. 2929.14(C)(4) before it imposed consecutive sentences.” Bonnell, ¶28. “[A]s
long as the reviewing court can discern that the trial court engaged in the correct analysis
and can determine that the record contains evidence to support the findings, consecutive
sentences should be upheld.” Id. at ¶29. The plurality of the Ohio Supreme Court in
Gwynne held that appellate courts may not review consecutive sentences for compliance
with R.C. 2929.11 and R.C. 2929.12. See 2019-Ohio- 4761, ¶18.
{¶120} Colston’s sole arguments are that the record does not support consecutive
sentences because he did not cause physical harm to others when he committed his
offenses and that the offenses did not involve an egregious amount of drugs. [Appellant’s
brief at 14].
{¶121} The trial court heard arguments made by the parties and reviewed the presentence investigation. At sentencing, the trial court found:
Upon review of the presentence investigation, the Court would note
that you had a prior conviction with the federal government back in 2003,
served five years and had six years of parole.
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 42
There were separate events indicated on the video. These are
separate type of charges in regards to the engaging in a pattern of corrupt
activity, including conspiracy to distribute drugs, but the amount involved
needed to get to this is a hundred grams and that involved the two
transactions actually combined to get to that amount.
Based on the video testimony at the trial, you were delivering for
somebody else. And that's what the court saw. That's what the jury saw. But
you were still participating in the crime.
Sentencing transcript, Sept. 11, 2019 at 6.
{¶122} The record demonstrates and Colston agrees that the trial court made the
findings required in order to impose consecutive sentences. Upon review, we find that the
trial court's sentencing on the charges complies with applicable rules and sentencing
statutes. The sentence was within the statutory sentencing range. Further, the record
contains evidence supporting the trial court’s findings under R.C. 2929.14(C)(4).
Therefore, we have no basis for concluding that it is contrary to law.
{¶123} Colston’s Eighth Assignment of Error is overruled.
Muskingum County, Case No. CT2019-0076 43

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