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State v. Humphrey

December 4, 2008

STATE OF OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
MENTAE HUMPHREY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. (C.P.C. No. 06CR-10-7615).

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

(REGULAR CALENDAR)

OPINION

{¶1} Mentae Humphrey, defendant-appellant, appeals from a judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, in which the court found him guilty, pursuant to a jury verdict, of murder with a firearm specification, in violation of R.C. 2903.02, which is a felony of the first degree; aggravated robbery with a firearm specification, in violation of R.C. 2911.01, which is a felony of the first degree; attempted murder with a firearm specification, in violation of R.C. 2923.02 as it related to R.C. 2903.02, which is a felony of the first degree; and improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation or school safety zone with a firearm specification, in violation of R.C. 2923.161, a felony of the second degree.

{¶2} On April 13, 2006, Kenyatta Banks and Javon Redman were playing football with friends. A person approached them seeking to sell a handgun. The person hid the gun in a bush and played football with the others. During this time, Kenyatta called appellant and told him that there was a gun in the bushes that he could steal in exchange for $30.

{¶3} Later that same day, Juan Munguia and his sister Milagros arrived home after selling food from their parents' taco trailer. While Milagros went to the front door of the home and met their brother Rigoberto, Juan unhooked the taco trailer from a vehicle. Milagros and Rigoberto then heard Juan yelling. Rigoberto ran toward Juan and saw an African-American male fighting with Juan, while another African-American male fled. Rigoberto joined the struggle, and the African-American male shot Juan. While fleeing, the African-American male fired another shot at Milagros, missing her. The bullet hit the Munguia's house.

{¶4} On July 12, 2006, the police received a tip based upon a local television news segment entitled "crimestoppers," which profiled the case. The tipster stated that the person who killed Juan was "Minte." Detective James McCoskey contacted the gang unit which told him that appellant had a similar name and was a suspect, along with Banks, in a robbery in Whitehall, Ohio, which had targeted illegal aliens.

{¶5} In September 2006, McCoskey interviewed Banks and learned about the gun in the bushes on the day of the incident. Banks also stated that he and a friend had been walking to meet appellant to receive the $30 payment for the gun, when he saw appellant shoot a Hispanic individual and then shoot again at people who had run out of the house. Banks also stated that, the day after the shooting, he spoke with appellant, who said he wanted to sell the gun. Banks called Redman, who arranged to have the gun sold to someone on the opposite side of town later that day. Redman also stated he had been in the area at the time of the shooting, and he saw appellant run toward a taco stand, heard someone yelling in a foreign language, heard gunshots, and saw appellant holding a gun.

{¶6} In September 2006, Rigoberto chose appellant from a photograph array, but he indicated he was not sure if appellant was the person who committed the offenses. Appellant was arrested on October 1, 2006, and was indicted on one count of aggravated murder with a firearm specification, one count of murder with a firearm specification, one count of aggravated robbery with a firearm specification, one count of attempted murder with a firearm specification, and one count of improperly discharging a weapon into or at a habitation or school safety zone with a firearm specification.

{¶7} A jury trial commenced September 5, 2007, after which the jury found appellant guilty of murder, aggravated robbery, attempted murder, and improperly discharging a weapon into or at a habitation or school safety zone, as well as the accompanying firearm specifications. On September 14, 2007, appellant was sentenced to a total incarceration term of 26 years to life. Appellant appeals the judgment of the trial court, asserting the following assignments of error:

I. The Appellant was Denied a Fair Trial Consistent With The Sixth Amendment By the Admission of Prejudicial Hearsay Testimony.

II. The Evidence was Insufficient to Support a Finding of Guilt.

III. The Verdict was Against the Manifest Weight of the Evidence.

{¶8} We will address all three assignments of error together. Appellant argues in his first assignment of error that he was denied a fair trial based upon the admission of prejudicial hearsay testimony. Appellant argues in his second assignment of error that the evidence was insufficient to support a finding of guilt. Appellant argues in his third assignment of error that the verdict was against the manifest weight of the evidence.

{¶9} With regard to appellant's first assignment of error, appellant presents two separate arguments. Appellant first asserts that the trial court erred when it allowed Detective McCoskey to read to the jury the report of an anonymous crimestoppers tip that identified appellant as the shooter. Appellant contends that the testimony constituted hearsay, and by allowing the whole report to be read to the jury, the anonymous tip was not offered solely to explain the detective's actions, but as substantive proof of guilt.

{ΒΆ10} The Ohio Rules of Evidence forbid the use of hearsay evidence at trial absent a recognized exception. Evid.R. 802. Hearsay evidence is defined as "a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted." Evid.R. 801(C). Decisions regarding the admissibility of evidence are within the sound discretion of the trial court and will not be reversed absent a showing of an abuse of discretion. State v. Graham (1979), 58 Ohio St.2d 350, and State v. Lundy (1987), 41 Ohio App.3d 163. An abuse of discretion connotes more than an ...


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