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Date: 04-11-2019

Case Style:

State of Ohio v. Keyonna Snell

Case Number: WD-18-004

Judge: Mark L. Pietrykowski


Plaintiff's Attorney: Paul A. Dobson, Wood County Prosecuting Attorney, David T. Harold and Jim Hoppenjans, Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys

Defendant's Attorney: Laurel A. Kendall


On January 19, 2017, appellant and three co-defendants were indicted on
charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, theft, forgery, possession of criminal
tools, and money laundering. The dates of the acts alleged included May 9, August 13,
and December 20, 2016, and involved various Walmart locations in Ohio and several
other states. The charges stemmed from a prepaid credit card scam, also known as a
“cash-cash” scam. In the scam, a customer with a phony, prepaid credit card attempts to
use the card for purchases by swiping it through the card reader. The card reader
indicates that the authentication is in process but is unable to read the card; the cashier is
then directed by the fabricated instructions on the back of the card to hit “cash plus cash
plus enter” to complete the transaction. The transaction would then be read as a cash
transaction but no cash was added to the register as the card had no value. The cashier
would only be alerted to the deficit when attempting to cash out at the end of the day.
Appellant entered a not guilty plea to the charges.
{¶ 3} On September 27, 2017, three of the defendants proceeded to a joint-trial
before a jury. Pursuant to a plea agreement, a fourth defendant testified on behalf of the
state. Also testifying was the asset protection manager from the Walmart in Perrysburg,
Ohio. Her testimony centered on the surveillance tapes and still images retrieved from
the Bowling Green, Ohio, and Perrysburg Walmart locations.
{¶ 4} During the manager’s testimony, an objection was raised as to videos and
images allegedly evidencing the August 13, 2016 cash-cash scam as it unfolded in the
lawn and garden department check-out line. Defense counsel indicated that it had not
received the video prior to trial. The court continued the trial to the next morning to
allow review of the images.
{¶ 5} After reconvening and in order to avoid appealable issues due to the
discovery omission, the state offered the co-defendants identical plea agreements to an
amended Count 1 of the indictment, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a second
degree felony; the remaining counts would be dismissed. The state agreed to recommend
a community control sentence. As a condition to entering the agreement, the defendants
were required to admit their involvement by circling their images in the surveillance
photos and agreeing to never enter a Walmart store in the continental United States.
Appellant agreed to the conditions and entered a guilty plea.
{¶ 6} The sentencing hearing was scheduled for November 17, 2016, at 11:00 a.m.
The state explained that the day before, Walmart global security had provided
photographs which purportedly depicted the defendants in Walmart stores in Missouri
and North Carolina following the plea date which would evidence a violation of the plea
agreement. Immediately upon receipt, the state forward copies to defense counsel. The
court requested to view the photographs. No positive identifications were made and the
court assured that it would not consider the photographs in rendering its sentence. The
matter was continued to the afternoon for the attorneys to confer with their clients. At
that time, it was discovered that appellant and a co-defendant had failed to reappear.
Counsel of the co-defendant was informed that the women were involved in an
automobile accident and were being treated at a hospital. The crash could not be
confirmed and warrants were issued. Appellant was subsequently arrested.
{¶ 7} On January 19, 2018, the sentencing hearing was ultimately held.
Appellant’s counsel acknowledged that based on her prior criminal history and the failure
to appear at sentencing, appellant would likely not be a candidate for community control.
Counsel asked the court to consider a two-year minimum sentence.
{¶ 8} The state, while indicating that it was recommending a community control
sentence, noted that because other defendants received four and five-year sentences, a
two-year sentence would be “di minimus.” The state further noted the fact that appellant
fled the jurisdiction just prior to the originally scheduled sentencing. Appellant was then
sentenced to five years of imprisonment; the sentence was journalized on January 23,
2018, and this appeal followed with appellant raising two assignments of error for our
First Assignment of Error: Appellant’s discovery rights were
violated when the state failed to produce videotape evidence prior to trial.
Second Assignment of Error: The state of Ohio breached the terms
of the plea agreement.
{¶ 9} In her first assignment of error, appellant argues that her due process right to
a fair trial was violated when the state failed to produce the August 13, 2016 Walmart
surveillance videotape which purportedly showed persons engaged in the criminal
activity alleged in the indictment. The state counters that prior to trial the videotape was
not possessed by “any official arm of the State” and, in any event, because the evidence
was inculpatory there was no reasonable likelihood that the outcome of the trial would
have been different if there had been an earlier disclosure of the video.
{¶ 10} Critical to our ruling on this assignment of error is the fact that appellant
entered a guilty plea following the disclosure of the videotape and the continuance
allowing counsel to review the tape. Ohio law clearly provides that a defendant’s act of
entering a guilty plea waives any alleged discovery errors so long as the alleged error did
not affect the knowing and voluntary nature of the plea. State v. Bryant, 6th Dist. Lucas
No. L-03-1359, 2005-Ohio-3352, ¶ 23. See State v. Chiles, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No.
103179, 2016-Ohio-1225, ¶ 7; State v. Moxley, 12th Dist. Madison No. CA2011-06-010,
2012-Ohio-2572, ¶ 33.
{¶ 11} Accordingly, because appellant has not challenged the knowing and
voluntary nature of her plea in relation to the alleged discovery violation, we find that the
error was waived. Appellant’s first assignment of error is not well-taken.
{¶ 12} In appellant’s second assignment of error she contends that the state
breached the terms of the plea agreement by providing the court with photographs of
unidentified persons entering a Walmart and by making various comments at sentencing.
Appellant contends that these actions undermined the state’s agreement to recommend a
community control sentence.
{¶ 13} As the parties correctly note, a plea agreement is a contract between the
state and the defendant and is governed by contract law principles. State v. Sabath, 6th
Dist. Lucas No. L-08-1148, 2009-Ohio-5726, ¶ 12, citing State v. Bethel, 110 Ohio St.3d
416, 2006-Ohio-4853, 854 N.E.2d 150. Accordingly, if one side breaches the agreement,
then the other side is entitled to either rescission or specific performance of the plea
agreement. State v. Walker, 6th Dist. Lucas No. L-05-1207, 2006-Ohio-2929, ¶ 13, citing
Santobello v. New York, 404 U.S. 257, 262, 92 S.Ct. 495, 30 L.Ed.2d 427 (1971).
Moreover, “Ohio courts have generally held that if a defendant fails
to appear at the sentencing hearing, the defendant is in breach of any plea
agreement.” [State v.] Adkins, 161 Ohio App. 3d 114, 2005 Ohio 2577, at
¶ 8, 829 N.E.2d 729. See, also, State v. Bonner, 3d Dist. Nos. 4-04-05,
4-04-06, 4-04-07, 2004 Ohio 6043, ¶ 17. The appearance of a defendant at
a scheduled hearing date is “an implied covenant in any plea agreement.”
Id. at ¶ 9, citing State v. Hess (Dec. 24, 1991), 4th Dist. No. 515, 1991 Ohio
App. LEXIS 6482 (Harsha, J., concurring). State v. Grier, 3d Dist.
Crawford No. 3-10-09, 2011-Ohio-902, ¶ 18.
{¶ 14} At the initial sentencing date, the state indicated that the photographs were
sent by Walmart security in response to an inquiry; the state was investigating whether or
not the terms of the plea agreement had been complied with. The day before sentencing,
but immediately upon receipt, the state forwarded the images to defense counsel so they
could review them with their respective clients.
{¶ 15} The court explained that because it could not recognize the individuals in
the photographs, the court “would not hold that against them in any way, shape or form
through th[e] sentencing.” The court then stated that it would consider only the
recommendation of the state, the record in the case, and the PSI reports.
{¶ 16} Thereafter, at appellant’s rescheduled sentencing and as set forth above,
defense counsel acknowledged that community control was not a viable option based on
appellant’s criminal history and the fact that she failed to appear at the original
sentencing. Counsel recommended that the court sentence her to two years of
imprisonment. The state’s comment that a two-year sentence would be “di minimus”
appears to be in response to appellant’s counsel’s statement. At that point, though the
state did utter the words “we are going to recommend community control,” it would be
logical to conclude that appellant did not reasonably believe that a non-prison sentence
was a viable option.
{¶ 17} Based on the statements of trial counsel and the fact that appellant failed to
appear at sentencing, we find that the state did not breach the terms of the plea
agreement. Appellant’s second assignment of error is not well-taken.

Outcome: On consideration whereof, we find that appellant was not prejudiced or
prevented from having a fair proceeding and the judgment of the Wood County Court of
Common Pleas is affirmed. Pursuant to App.R. 24, appellant is ordered to pay the costs
of this appeal.

Plaintiff's Experts:

Defendant's Experts:


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