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Date: 01-19-2021

Case Style:

State of Ohio v. Marwan Lamar Lamb, Jr.

Case Number: L-19-1177

Judge: Thomas J Osowik

Court: IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF OHIO SIXTH APPELLATE DISTRICT LUCAS COUNTY

Plaintiff's Attorney: Julia R. Bates, Lucas County Prosecuting Attorney, and
Evy M. Jarrett, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney

Defendant's Attorney:


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Toledo, OH - Criminal defense attorney represented Marwan Lamb, Jr. with an appeal from a July 17, 2019 judgment of the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas, determining that credible evidence of probable cause had been presented at a bindover hearing in support of transferring one count of murder, in violation of R.C. 2903.02, with an accompanying firearm specification, pending against appellant in the juvenile division, to the adult division of the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas.>





} This is an appeal from a July 17, 2019 judgment of the Lucas County Court
of Common Pleas, determining that credible evidence of probable cause had been
presented at a bindover hearing in support of transferring one count of murder, in
violation of R.C. 2903.02, with an accompanying firearm specification, pending against
appellant in the juvenile division, to the adult division of the Lucas County Court of
Common Pleas. For the reasons set forth below, this court affirms the judgment of the
trial court.
{¶ 2} Appellant, Marwan Lamb, Jr., sets forth the following five assignments of
error:
I. [Appellant] was deprived of his right to due process and a fair
hearing because the Lucas County juvenile court’s probable cause
determination was [unconstitutionally] based on tainted and unreliable
identifications.
II. [Appellant’s] due process and confrontation clause rights were
violated when the government introduced anonymous crime stopper
allegations through the surrogate testimony of an investigating detective [] .
III. The juvenile court erred when it [unconstitutionally] failed to
assess key identification evidence for accuracy and reliability.
IV. [Appellant] was deprived of his right to the effective assistance
of counsel in juvenile court [] .
V. The retroactive application of Ohio’s violent offender registry
[Sierah’s Law] [is unconstitutional].
{¶ 3} The following undisputed facts are relevant to this appeal. This case arises
from the March 17, 2018 shooting death of a man in an apartment complex parking lot
3.
located off of Door Street in Toledo during the course of a duplicitous marijuana
purchase.
{¶ 4} The drug purchase was a subterfuge. It was solicited on Facebook for
purposes of luring an unsuspecting drug seller to a designated location, at a designated
time, to meet with a decoy buyer. The true purpose was to lay a trap in which the victim
would be set upon by others during the meeting.
{¶ 5} On March 17, 2018, to set into motion the above-described plan, appellant
and Randal Mullins went to the residence of a woman, Phenom Munn, to enlist her
assistance. They directed Munn to make a posting on Facebook inquiring about anyone
interested and able to sell marijuana to her that night. The victim responded.
{¶ 6} The victim notified Munn via Facebook that he was available to sell her the
requested quantity of marijuana in the parking lot of an apartment complex located along
Door Street in Toledo. The victim relayed a designated location and time for the
proposed drug sale to Munn.
{¶ 7} Mullins instructed Munn to drive himself and appellant to the designated
location in Mullins’ vehicle. Shortly before driving into the apartment complex, Mullins
instructed Munn to stop the vehicle and let appellant out. Appellant, armed with a loaded
gun owned by Mullins, travelled the remaining distance on foot to the victim’s location.
{¶ 8} As recorded by the apartment complex video surveillance cameras, Munn
drove into the designated parking lot and parked. Munn exited the vehicle, approached
the victim, and inquired whether the victim had a scale in order to weigh the drugs. The
4.
victim replied that he did not have a scale. Munn then told the victim that she needed to
return to the vehicle to get additional cash to complete the purchase.
{¶ 9} After Munn returned to the vehicle, appellant ran up behind the victim
brandishing a loaded firearm. Although the victim told appellant to just take the drugs
and go, appellant shot the victim at point blank range, killing him.
{¶ 10} Following the shooting, Munn drove the vehicle a short distance from the
complex, picked up appellant who had left the scene on foot, and drove off. Appellant
had used a firearm owned and registered to Mullins. During the drive away from the
scene, Munn heard Mullins castigating appellant for using Mullins’ gun in the crime.
{¶ 11} In a failed attempt to obfuscate the police investigation into the crime,
Mullins instructed Munn to make an additional Facebook post after the murder, falsely
claiming that Munn had likewise been a victim in the incident.
{¶ 12} During the murder investigation, appellant’s name was repeatedly relayed
to the crime stopper tip line as a key figure in the crime. In addition, the police were
directed to Munn’s Facebook posts. Accordingly, the investigating detective interviewed
Munn.
{¶ 13} Although Munn initially adhered to the plan to portray herself as another
victim in the incident, she later revealed the truth about what had actually occurred to the
investigating detective. Munn disclosed that her subsequent Facebook post was not true.
{¶ 14} In an initial photo array presented to Munn to gauge her truthfulness, she
was shown photos of an ex-boyfriend and of the victim. She correctly identified both
5.
photos. In addition, a photo of an unknown man was shown to Munn. She correctly
denied knowing the identity of that man.
{¶ 15} A separate detective subsequently presented Munn with a photo array of six
male individuals of similar age, build, complexion, and hairstyle. Munn correctly
identified appellant from the photo array.
{¶ 16} Munn revealed that she witnessed appellant shoot the victim. The shell
casings recovered at the scene were a match to the gun used by appellant in committing
the murder.
{¶ 17} Appellant, aged 17 at the time of the offense, was originally charged in the
Lucas County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division.
{¶ 18} On January 8, 2019, a bindover hearing was conducted for purposes of
determining whether evidence of probable cause against appellant was presented, so as to
warrant transferring appellant’s case to the adult division for prosecution.
{¶ 19} The record reflects that during the bindover hearing, Munn provided
detailed and clear testimony, supportive of a probable cause finding.
{¶ 20} Munn confirmed that, at the behest of Mullins, she arranged for the drug
purchase meeting on Facebook, she drove appellant and Mullins to the scene, she
dropped off appellant a short distance from the destination, she observed appellant come
upon the victim from behind, and she saw appellant shoot the victim. Munn further
testified that when she picked up appellant a few minutes after the shooting, she heard
Mullins ask appellant, “Why would you shoot him with my gun?”
6.
{¶ 21} The record reflects that the investigating detective testified at the bindover
hearing that he recovered shell casings at the scene which matched the gun used by
appellant.
{¶ 22} The record reflects that the detective further testified that he recovered
several cell phones from the victim which contained a series of text messages between
Munn and the victim collaborating Munn’s representation of the events. The detective
also testified that he obtained the video surveillance from the apartment complex, which
reflected the arrival of the vehicle at the scene of the crime just before it occurred,
showed an individual running from the complex on foot after the shooting, and showed
the departure of the vehicle from the scene shortly after the shooting.
{¶ 23} The record reflects that the timing of the events shown in the video footage
is consistent with Munn’s testimony.
{¶ 24} At the conclusion of the bindover hearing, the juvenile court determined
that credible evidence had been presented of probable cause against appellant so as to
warrant the transfer of the case to the adult division for prosecution.
{¶ 25} Subsequent to the transfer of the case, appellant entered a voluntary plea of
guilty to one count of murder, in violation of R.C. 2903.02, a felony of the first degree,
along with an accompanying mandatory firearm specification. Appellant was sentenced
to a total term of incarceration of 16 years to life. This appeal ensued.
{¶ 26} In the first assignment of error, appellant maintains that the bindover
hearing was unconstitutional, in violation of due process, based upon allegations of
7.
tainted and unreliable identifications. In response, appellee asserts that appellant’s guilty
plea waived all constitutional complaints about the bindover hearing.
{¶ 27} As a preliminary matter, we find that appellee’s sweeping position
regarding appellant’s alleged waiver of constitutional concerns upon a guilty plea is
misguided. As conveyed in response to an analogous contention in State v. Hughes, 10th
Dist. Franklin No. 18AP-837, 2019-Ohio-4590, ¶ 3, “We dispense at the outset with the
state’s position that by pleading guilty [appellant] has waived his probable cause-based
argument that he was denied due process * * * because a proper bindover procedure,
which includes the determination of the existence of probable cause, is necessary to
transfer jurisdiction, it cannot be waived.”
{¶ 28} We concur in the Hughes position that appellant’s subsequent guilty plea
did not waive due process claims arising from the underlying bindover hearing.
{¶ 29} In conjunction with the above, we note that bindover hearings are nonadjudicative. Accordingly, such hearings are not determinative of one’s guilt or
innocence of the underlying offense.
{¶ 30} The threshold standard of evidence in support of a bindover request is that
evidence of probable cause of appellant’s actions constituting the elements of the offense
have been presented. However, such evidence does not constitute evidence of guilt
beyond a reasonable doubt, which must be demonstrated separately at a subsequent,
adjudicative trial. State v. Garner, 6th Dist. Lucas No. L-19-1269, 2020-Ohio-4939,
¶ 19.
8.
{¶ 31} In consideration of the above, although we find that appellant is entitled to
present due process claims in support of the first assignment of error, our review of the
record reveals that appellant’s claims, while legitimately presented on appeal, are
nevertheless without substantive merit.
{¶ 32} In support of the first assignment, appellant maintains that the identification
process in this case was unconstitutionally tainted and unreliable. We do not concur.
{¶ 33} For example, appellant contends that Munn’s identification of appellant
from a photo array presented to her was improperly suggestive based upon an assertion
that the background ink on the photocopy of appellant’s mug shot had slightly darker
coloration in comparison to the other photocopied mugshots comprising the array.
{¶ 34} Our review of the photo array reflects that all six males presented are of
similar age, height, build, complexion, and hairstyle. In the photocopying process, the
background of not only appellant’s photo printed off slightly darker, but several of the
other photos contained in the array likewise had variable, darker background coloration.
Appellant presents no evidence in support of the notion that the marginally inconsistent
photocopy background shading, seen in multiple photos in the array, improperly
impacted the identification process and/or prejudiced appellant.
{¶ 35} In addition, we note that Munn was acquainted with appellant. She drove
him to and from the scene of the crime. This was not a scenario in which someone
previously unknown to the witness was being selected from a photo array by that witness.
In Neil v. Biggers, 409 U.S. 188, 93 S.Ct. 375, 34 L.Ed.2d 401 (1972), the Supreme
9.
Court enumerated five factors to consider in determining whether the identification was
reliable. Key factors are the witness’s opportunity to view (in the case of a voice
identification, to hear) the defendant during the crime, the witness’s degree of attention,
the accuracy of the witness’s prior description of the suspect, the witness’s certainty, and
the time elapsed between the crime and the identification. State v. Patton, 6th Dist.
Lucas No. L-12-1356, 2015-Ohio-1866, ¶ 21-22, citing Neil, 409 U.S. at 199-200.
Munn’s close and personal involvement with appellant immediately before and after the
homicide are factors that weigh heavily in favor of reliability.
{¶ 36} Appellant further argues that Munn’s identification was unconstitutionally
tainted based upon the innuendo that Munn may have been involved in a relationship
with Mullins. We are not persuaded.
{¶ 37} Regardless of any prior involvement between Munn and Mullins, the bulk
of the record of evidence supports the propriety of Munn’s identification of appellant and
her eyewitness testimony against appellant.
{¶ 38} Munn drove appellant to the scene of the crime, dropped appellant off a
short distance away from where the crime occurred, observed appellant shoot the victim,
picked up appellant, drove appellant away from the scene, and heard Mullins confront
appellant about his use of Mullins’ gun.
{¶ 39} We find that appellant has failed to demonstrate constitutional impropriety
in connection to the identification of appellant. We find appellant’s first assignment of
error not well-taken.
10.
{¶ 40} In the second assignment of error, appellant similarly maintains that the
bindover hearing was unconstitutional due to the presentation of testimony regarding
anonymous crime stopper tips via the testimony of the investigating detective, rather than
the direct testimony of those providing information to the tip line.
{¶ 41} Appellant asserts that his inability during the bindover hearing to confront
and cross-examine those who furnished information about the crime to the tip line was
unconstitutional. We do not concur. It has been well-established that the constitutional
right to confrontation is a trial right and not a right that has been extended to preliminary
proceedings. Pennsylvania v. Ritchie, 480 U.S. 39, 51, 107 S.Ct. 989, 94 L.Ed.2d 40
(1987). The Supreme Court of Ohio held that the right to confrontation relates to the
actual trial for the commission of the offense and not to the preliminary examination
where it is determined whether the accused is to be bound over to the grand jury.
Henderson v. Maxwell, 176 Ohio St. 187, 188, 198 N.E.2d 456, 458 (1964).
{¶ 42} Appellant’s position fails to recognize, as was discussed above, that
bindover hearings are not criminal trials. They do not make determinations of one’s guilt
or innocence beyond a reasonable doubt of the charged offense.
{¶ 43} Rather, they are non-adjudicative probable cause hearings, making a
preliminary determination as to which trial court, juvenile court or adult court, is the
proper one in which to conduct the subsequent criminal trial.
{¶ 44} As held in State v. Iacona, 93 Ohio St.3d 83, 752 N.E.2d 937 (2001),
“Determination of the merits of the competing prosecution and defense theories, both of
11.
which are credible, ultimately is a matter for a fact finder at trial.” Accordingly, had
appellant chosen, appellant could have proceeded to a criminal trial in the adult division,
at which time any constitutional claims regarding the sources of tip information about the
crime could have been made.
{¶ 45} In the instant case, appellant declined to proceed to trial. Appellant entered
a voluntary plea. As held under similar circumstances in State v. Garner, 6th Dist. Lucas
No. L-19-1269, 2020-Ohio-4939, at ¶ 25, “The fact that appellant is unable to confront
the authors of the reports at the bindover hearing does not frustrate in any way his ability
to confront and cross-examine them at the subsequent trial.”
{¶ 46} Given these facts and circumstances, we find that appellant has failed to
demonstrate that the testimony regarding the crime stopper tips at the bindover hearing
was unconstitutional. We find appellant’s second assignment of error not well-taken.
{¶ 47} In appellant’s third assignment of error, appellant similarly asserts that his
constitutional rights were breached at the bindover hearing due to the alleged failure of
the juvenile court to, “[M]eaningfully analyze the government’s evidence for accuracy or
reliability.”
{¶ 48} Appellant takes issue with the juvenile court declining at the bindover
hearing to make a determination regarding whether the evidence presented at the
bindover hearing reflected appellant’s guilt of the offense.
{¶ 49} We again note that appellant’s position incorrectly imputes trial court level
evidentiary obligations upon a non-adjudicatory proceeding. As stated in Garner at ¶ 19,
12.
“The juvenile probable cause hearing is not a trial as it does not find as a fact that the
accused minor is guilty of the offense charged.”
{¶ 50} It is not proper for a juvenile court to operate as a de facto ultimate trier of
fact in the course of the bindover proceeding, as implied by appellant’s position. We find
appellant’s third assignment of error not well-taken.
{¶ 51} In the fourth assignment of error, appellant maintains that he was denied
the effective assistance of counsel during the juvenile court proceedings. We do not
concur.
{¶ 52} It is well-established the demonstration of ineffective assistance of counsel
requires showing that counsel erred in specific ways, and that, but for those demonstrated
errors, the outcome of the matter would have been different. Strickland v. Washington,
466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984).
{¶ 53} The propriety of appellant’s position in the fourth assignment of error is
contingent upon this court finding in favor of appellant in response to appellant’s
allegations set forth in the first three assignments of error.
{¶ 54} Given that this court has found no impropriety by the juvenile court in the
bindover proceedings, appellant cannot show that the outcome would have been different
but for meritless objections being made to acceptable actions of the juvenile court.
{¶ 55} We find appellant’s fourth assignment of error not well-taken.
13.
{¶ 56} In appellant’s fifth assignment of error, appellant asserts that the
application of the R.C. 2943.01 violent offender registry (VOD) to appellant following
his conviction was unconstitutional.
{¶ 57} Currently pending before the Ohio Supreme Court is a certified conflict
between the Courts of Appeals for the Twelfth and Fifth Districts on the issue whether
the VOD statutes, when applied to an offense that occurred before the statutes’ March 20,
2019 effective date, violate the prohibition against retroactive statutes contained in
Article II, Section 28, of the Ohio Constitution. See State v. Hubbard, 159 Ohio St.3d
1427, 2020-Ohio-3473, 148 N.E.3d 568 (Table); State v. Jarvis, 159 Ohio St.3d 1427,
2020-Ohio-3473, 148 N.E.3d 568 (Table). See also State v. Rike, 1st Dist. Hamilton No.
C-190401, 2020-Ohio-4690 (finding no retroactivity-clause violation); State v. Jackson,
10th Dist. Franklin No. 19AP-393, 2020-Ohio-4115 (declining to decide retroactivityclause challenge upon determining that the case was not ripe for decision); State v.
Morgan, 2020-Ohio-3955, 156 N.E.3d 989 (9th Dist.) (finding no retroactivity-clause
violation). State v. Klein, 1st Dist. No. C-190619, 2020-Ohio-6948, ¶ 16.
{¶ 58} Until the Supreme Court resolves this conflict, we are inclined to follow the
position of a majority of our fellow appellate districts and find that the VOD statute
before us as applied is remedial in nature and therefore find it to be constitutional,
utilizing the same logic employed by the court in Hubbard:
Given the many differences between the sex-offender registration
statutes and the violent-offender enrollment statutes, we find that the
14.
violent-offender enrollment requirements are not so punitive that
they impose a new burden in the constitutional sense, as
contemplated in Williams. Rather, we find that the violent-offender
enrollment requirements are more akin to the arson-offender
registration requirements set forth in R.C. 2909.13, 2909.14,
and 2909.15, which the First District found were remedial in
nature. See Caldwell, 2014-Ohio-3566, 18 N.E.3d 467 at ¶ 33-35.
Accordingly, as appellant had no expectation of finality with regard
to any duties that may or may not have attached following his
conviction for murder, he does not have a substantive right in this
regard. See id. at ¶ 35; Cook, 83 Ohio St.3d at 414, 700 N.E.2d 570.
The violent-offender enrollment statutes are remedial in nature, and
the General Assembly could retroactively impose Sierah’s Law
without running afoul of Article II, Section 28 of the Ohio
Constitution. State v. Hubbard, 2020-Ohio-856, ¶ 37, 146 N.E.3d
593, 604, motion to certify allowed, 2020-Ohio-3473, ¶ 37, 159
Ohio St. 3d 1427, 148 N.E.3d 568, and appeal allowed, 2020-Ohio3473, ¶ 37, 159 Ohio St. 3d 1427, 148 N.E.3d 569. Hubbard, at
Paragraph 37.
{¶ 59} Therefore, we find Lamb’s fifth assignment of error not well-taken and it is
denied.

Outcome: On consideration whereof, the judgment of the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas is hereby affirmed. Appellant is ordered to pay the costs of this appeal pursuant to App.R. 24.

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