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State v. Hall

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District

July 3, 2013


Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-542140


ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Timothy J. McGinty Cuyahoga County Prosecutor BY: John R. Kosko Norman Schroth Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys.

BEFORE: E.T. Gallagher, J., S. Gallagher, P.J., and Keough, J.



{¶1} Defendant-appellant Michael Hall ("Hall") appeals his aggravated robbery and kidnapping convictions. We find no merit to the appeal and affirm.

{¶2} On March 14, 2008, John Mahone discovered the body of Eric Copley ("Copley") in front of his home located at 1075 East 76th Street in Cleveland. Mahone did not hear any gunshots or witness any crime, but his dog was barking at Copley's body, which was lying in the street at the edge of his property. Cleveland police officer Charles Teel, who responded to the scene, recovered a bullet fragment in the area where Copley's body was found.

{¶ 3} EMS transported Copley to Huron Road Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. The Cuyahoga County medical examiner ruled his death a homicide. Copley had been shot in the back, and the bullet penetrated through his liver and heart before exiting out of his chest. According to the medical examiner, Copley would have been able to stand and walk for up to one minute after being shot.

{¶4} On the night of his death, Copley had been visiting Hall at Hall's residence on East 77th Street. Mahone's house, where Copley's body was found, was located between Hall's house and Copley's house. Copley was walking home from Hall's house when he was shot. The next morning, Copley's mother, Josephine Copley ("Josephine"), found some of his belongings near the intersection of East 76th Street and Korman Avenue. Josephine called the police, who recovered Copley's right tennis shoe, some CDs, his phone charger, and shell casings from the scene.

{¶5} There were no eyewitnesses to the shooting. However, Connie Anderson ("Anderson"), who lives at the corner of East 76th Street and Korman Avenue, told police that she was studying in her living room around 11:00 p.m. when she heard gunshots. She immediately turned off the lights, looked out the window, and saw a man wearing a hoodie looking down at something. She went upstairs to get a better view and saw another man kneeling on one knee. She watched the man stand up, take a few steps, and collapse face first in what she described as a "dead man's fall." The man in the hoodie ran toward East 77th Street.

{¶6} Four days after the shooting, on March 18, 2008, Hall and his mother, Jo Ann Hall ("JoAnn"), contacted the police to report that they were being harassed by Copley's father, who suspected Hall of the murder. Hall and his mother voluntarily allowed homicide detectives to interview them about the crimes. They told detectives that Copley visited their house the night of his death, but Hall left the house hours before Copley went home and did not return until after Copley's death. Hall told detectives that he went with two family friends, Aniya Collins ("Collins") and Teinisha Paradise ("Paradise"), to buy juice for his mother and to visit his aunt, Sally Williams ("Aunt Sally"). After visiting Aunt Sally for over an hour, they left her house to search for someone selling marijuana on the streets. Collins and Paradise told police that while they were driving around, they saw Hall's friend Brandon Beckwith ("Beckwith") walking down the street. They picked up Beckwith and dropped him off at his house with Hall. Hall told police he was still at Beckwith's house when his mother called and informed him that Copley had been killed. Hours after Hall's statement to the police on March 18, 2008, Beckwith turned himself in to the police.

{¶7} At trial, Josephine Copley testified that she and Copley worked together for a cleaning service and cleaned the KeyBank Center on East Ninth Street in downtown Cleveland. They were paid every Thursday, and Josephine always cashed Copley's check and gave him the cash. The day before his death, she had given Copley $316, which he kept in his pocket. Investigators did not recover any cash from his pockets after his death.

{¶8} No charges were filed against Hall until October 2010. In August 2010, Robert Dillard ("Dillard") contacted the police and informed them that he had information concerning Copley's murder. Dillard, who lived upstairs from Aunt Sally's apartment and dated Hall's cousin, provided a recorded statement to the police in which he described Hall's conspiracy with Beckwith to rob Copley of his cash and split the money. According to this August 2010 statement, Hall told Beckwith that Copley had a lot of money in his pocket and suggested that Beckwith follow him around, corner him, and rob him. As planned, Beckwith followed Copley out of Hall's house and robbed him. Hall explained to Dillard that "he was supposed to have taken the money but, don't know if he got the money or not, but he shot that boy." Hall also told Dillard that he was riding in Collins's car when they saw Beckwith walking down the street and picked him up. At Beckwith's house, Beckwith told Hall that he shot Copley.

{¶9} In December 2010, Dillard signed an affidavit at Hall's attorney's office recanting his August 2010 statement. At trial, he testified that every detail contained in his August 2010 statement "was a lie, " including the facts that (1) Beckwith was alone at the time of the robbery, (2) Copley had a lot of money in his pocket because he had a job, and (3) Hall was driving around with Collins when they picked up Beckwith and went to Beckwith's house where Beckwith informed Hall of the shooting. At the time Dillard gave his August 2010 statement, he was in jail for domestic violence against Hall's cousin, Tiffany Williams ("Williams"). He testified that he fabricated the entire story contained in his August 2010 statement because he wanted to hurt Williams and her family.

{¶10} After the police received Dillard's August 2010 statement, Hall was charged with two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of aggravated robbery, and two counts of kidnapping. All counts included one- and three-year firearm specifications. He was charged along with codefendants Brandon Beckwith and Sharvaise Robinson ("Robinson") for the shooting death of Eric Copley. According to Dillard's statement, Robinson helped set up the robbery by inviting Copley over to Hall's house the night of his death.

{¶11} The case proceeded to a jury trial in April 2011, and the jury found Hall not guilty of the two counts of aggravated murder, one count of aggravated robbery, and one count of kidnapping. The jury was hung on the remaining counts of aggravated robbery and kidnapping. Following a second trial, the jury found Hall guilty of aggravated robbery and kidnapping, with three-year firearm specifications. The court merged the two convictions and sentenced Hall to seven years for aggravated robbery and three years for the firearm specifications, to be served consecutively, for an aggregate ten-year prison sentence. Hall now appeals and raises seven assignments of error.

Double Jeopardy

{¶12} In his first assignment of error, Hall argues double jeopardy barred the state from prosecuting him for aggravated robbery and kidnapping in the second trial because he was previously acquitted of aggravated murder and separate counts of aggravated robbery and kidnapping.

{¶13} The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution states: "No person shall * * * be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb * * *." The Fifth Amendment was made applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. Section 10, Article I, of the Ohio Constitution states: "No person shall be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense." The Double Jeopardy Clause protects persons from (1) "a second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal, " (2) "a second prosecution for the same offense after conviction, " and (3) "multiple punishments for the same offense." North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 717, 89 S.Ct. 2072, 23 L.Ed.2d656 (1969).

{¶14} Hall argues that double jeopardy barred the second trial, even though the jury was hung on the remaining two counts of aggravated robbery and kidnapping. He contends that State v. Liberatore, 4 Ohio St.3d 13, 445 N.E.2d 1116 (1983), supports his double jeopardy argument.

{¶15} In Liberatore, the victim was killed in his car by a bomb, which was placed in an adjacent car and detonated by remote control. Liberatore was charged with aggravated murder "as purposely causing the death of another, * * * during the commission of aggravated arson." In other words, the defendant was charged with aggravated arson and aggravated murder with aggravated arson as the predicate felony. The jury acquitted Liberatore of aggravated arson and hung on the aggravated murder charge. The Ohio Supreme Court found that because aggravated arson was the predicate crime for the aggravated murder charge, a judgment of acquittal on aggravated arson foreclosed retrial of the defendant on aggravated murder. Id. at 15.

{¶16} In State v. Lovejoy, 79 Ohio St.3d 440, 1997-Ohio-371, 683 N.E.2d 1112, the Ohio Supreme Court distinguished Liberatore and held that when a jury finds a defendant not guilty as to some counts and is hung on other counts, double jeopardy does not apply where the inconsistency arises out of inconsistent responses to different counts, not out of inconsistent responses to the same count. Id. at paragraph two of the syllabus. It explained that because Liberatore was acquitted of the predicate offense of aggravated arson, the hung ...

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