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State v. Sims

December 3, 2008

STATE OF OHIO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
ADRIAN M. SIMS DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



CHARACTER OF PROCEEDINGS: Criminal Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Mahoning County, Ohio Case No. 06 CR 1006.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Waite, J.

OPINION

JUDGMENT: Affirmed.

JUDGES: Hon. Cheryl L. Waite, Hon. Gene Donofrio, Hon. Mary DeGenaro.

{¶1} Appellant, Adrian Sims, who was 16 years old when he committed the crimes alleged in the superceding indictment, appeals his conviction and sentence on two counts of aggravated robbery in violation of R.C. 2911.01(A)(1)(C), and two counts of aggravated murder in violation of R.C. 2903.01(B)(F), with firearms specifications to all counts pursuant to R.C. 2941.145(A). Appellant pleaded guilty to all four counts in the superceding indictment, and was sentenced to thirty-three years to life in prison.

{¶2} Appellant asks this Court to reverse the juvenile court's order transferring jurisdiction to the common pleas court, to vacate his conviction on the two counts of aggravated robbery, or to modify his sentence on the ten-year concurrent prison terms imposed on the aggravated robbery charges to minimum, concurrent prison terms, all in the alternative.

{¶3} As probable cause existed to believe that Appellant committed the crimes alleged in the juvenile complaint, and as the crimes alleged in the superceding indictment were based upon the same delinquent acts under review by the juvenile court, the general division of the common pleas court had jurisdiction over the crimes alleged in the superceding indictment. Further, because former R.C. 2929.14 did not create an absolute right to the shortest possible sentence, Appellant did not have a liberty interest in the continued application of the statute. Accordingly, all three assignments of error are overruled.

Facts

{¶4} A complaint was filed in juvenile court on May 22, 2006 charging Appellant with two counts of murder in violation of R.C. 2903.02, with gun specifications pursuant to R.C. 2941.145 and 2151.355. "Murder" is defined in R.C. 2903.02, which reads, in pertinent part, "[n]o person shall purposely cause the death of another[.]" The complaint alleged that Appellant "purposefully cause[d] the deaths" of Troy Barlow and Jamie Helms. R.C. 2901. 22(A) reads, in pertinent part, "[a] person acts purposely when it is his specific intention to cause a certain result."

{¶5} The following facts are taken from the probable cause hearing conducted by the juvenile court. According to Robert Floyd ("Floyd"), who was sixteen years old when he testified at the hearing, Appellant, Devron Pinkard (Floyd's cousin), Helms, and Barlow were at Floyd's mother's house on May 20, 2006, the same day that Helms and Barlow were killed. (9/5/06 Tr., pp. 32-33.) Floyd testified that he overheard Helms talking about selling marijuana, (9/5/06 Tr., pp. 39-40), and Pinkard discussing a plan with Appellant to steal marijuana from Helms, Barlow, and "Jesse." (9/5/06 Tr., pp. 27, 34.) Floyd was upset by the idea that a robbery might occur at his mother's house, and, as a consequence, he insisted that Appellant and Pinkard leave her residence. (9/5/06 Tr., pp. 27, 41.)

{¶6} However, the same group of boys met up some time later at the house of Mary Floyd (Pinkard's mother and Floyd's aunt). Floyd decided to go to his aunt's house to fix a scooter. Appellant and Pinkard arrived at the house about five minutes later. (9/5/06 Tr., p. 35.) While Floyd was fixing the scooter in the front yard, Helms and Barlow went to the backyard of the vacant house next door with Appellant and Pinkard. (9/5/06 Tr., pp. 28, 36.)

{¶7} Floyd testified that Appellant, Pinkard, Helms, and Barlow were in the backyard for "approximately ten seconds," when Pinkard returned to the front yard. (9/5/06 Tr., p. 29.) On cross-examination, Floyd said the boys were in the backyard for "two or three minutes." (9/5/06 Tr., p. 41.)

{¶8} Floyd testified that, two minutes after Pinkard returned to the front yard, he and Pinkard heard gunshots coming from the backyard. (9/5/06 Tr., pp. 29, 42.) Shortly thereafter, Appellant emerged from the backyard. (9/5/06 Tr., pp. 42, 49.) Floyd testified that he and Pinkard then told Mary Floyd to call an ambulance. (9/5/06 Tr., p. 43.) Helms and Barlow both suffered fatal gunshot wounds.

{¶9} In addition to Floyd's testimony, the juvenile court heard the testimony of Detective Sergeant Rick Spotleson. According to Spotleson, immediately following the shooting, Mary Floyd told him that she heard the gunshots and then saw people run away, but she could not identify the gunman. (9/5/06 Tr., p. 11.) On cross-examination, Spotleson testified that the following day, during an in-depth interview, Mary Floyd told him that she saw Appellant walking down the driveway with a gun after she heard the gunshots. (9/5/06 Tr., p. 22.) Spotleson acknowledged the inconsistency of Mary Floyd's statements to the police. (9/5/06 Tr., p. 23.) Finally, Spotleson testified that Carl Wright (Barlow's uncle) identified Barlow at the scene, and then confronted Floyd's mother exclaiming, "your son killed my nephew." (9/5/06 Tr., p. 11.)

{¶10} The final witness at the hearing was Carl Hammonds (Pinkard's cousin), who was arrested at the scene. Hammonds initially implicated Pinkard, because he believed that Pinkard intended to steal the car that Helms and Barlow were driving. (9/5/06 Tr., pp. 11, 59.) In order to vindicate himself of the crimes, Hammonds arranged to meet with Appellant and Pinkard to determine what actually happened. (9/5/06 Tr., p. 56.) At the meeting, Appellant told Hammonds that he pulled a gun on Helms and Barlow, and one of the boys rushed him. Hammonds further testified that Appellant, "went to get another boy * * * brought him back there, and he shot him too," but Hammonds conceded that Appellant did not provide an explanation regarding the shooting of the second boy. (9/5/06 Tr., p. 57.)

{ΒΆ11} Based upon the foregoing testimony, the juvenile court transferred jurisdiction over Appellant to the general division of the common pleas court pursuant to R.C. 2152.12. Pinkard, who was eighteen at the time the crimes were committed, was indicted in the general division of the common pleas court and ultimately ...


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