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State v. Neyland

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Sixth District

July 12, 2013

State of Ohio Appellee
v.
Calvin Neyland, Jr. Appellant

Trial Court No. 2007CR0359

Paul A. Dobson, Prosecuting Attorney, Gwen Howe-Gebers, Heather M. Baker and Thomas E. Madden., Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys, for appellee.

Timothy Young, State Public Defender, Tyson Fleming and Kelle Hinderer, Assistant State Public Defenders, for appellant.

DECISION AND JUDGMENT

YARBROUGH, J.

I. Introduction

{¶ 1} Appellant, Calvin Neyland, Jr., appeals the judgment of the Wood County Court of Common Pleas, granting appellee's, the state of Ohio, motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, we affirm.

A. Facts and Procedural Background

{¶ 2} On June 30, 2006, Neyland was hired by Liberty Transportation as a commercial truck driver. His supervisor was Doug Smith. He initially performed well as a truck driver. However, after several months, customers began to complain that Neyland was not maintaining his truck or keeping up with his paperwork. Consequently, Liberty decided to terminate Neyland's employment.

{¶ 3} At a meeting on August 8, 2007, Smith and Liberty's safety director, Thomas Lazar, informed Neyland that his employment was being terminated. Following the meeting, Smith called 911 and told the dispatcher that Neyland was attempting to steal a truck. While on the phone, Smith reported hearing gunshots. After leaving to investigate, Smith could be heard yelling for help, at which point Neyland shot him as well. Police arrived on the scene shortly thereafter, and discovered Lazar's body lying in the front yard outside Liberty's building. Police found Smith's lifeless body inside his office.

{¶ 4} Neyland was subsequently located at a motel in Michigan, where he was arrested and taken into custody. He was then indicted on two counts of aggravated murder in violation of R.C. 2903.01(A) with mass murder specifications under R.C. 2929.04(A)(5), along with the attendant gun specifications.

{¶ 5} Following his indictment, defense counsel raised the issue of Neyland's competency to stand trial. A competency evaluation was ordered, and Neyland was referred to the Court Diagnostic and Treatment Center, where he was evaluated by Dr. Thomas Sherman. Sherman concluded that Neyland was incompetent to understand the proceedings against him or assist in his defense. The state then requested a second competency evaluation, and the court ordered Neyland to undergo a 30-day inpatient evaluation at Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare. While at Twin Valley, Neyland was examined by Dr. Kristen Haskins, who diagnosed him with a personality disorder, but determined he was not mentally ill or incompetent to stand trial.

{¶ 6} As a result of the conflicting professional opinions, a third competency evaluation was ordered, and Neyland was sent to the Wood County Justice Center to be examined by Dr. Barbara Bergman. Bergman interviewed Neyland for an hour, after which she concluded that he was competent to stand trial.

{¶ 7} On March 21, 2008, the trial court conducted an evidentiary hearing on Neyland's competency. Following the testimony of each of the examining doctors, the trial court concluded that Neyland had failed to overcome the presumption of competence, stating that "[Neyland's] mental condition is not a mental illness that prevents him from understanding the nature of the proceedings against him nor prevents him from assisting in his defense or with his attorneys, at least in a meaningful manner."

{¶ 8} A jury trial ensued, and Neyland was subsequently found guilty of both counts of aggravated murder, along with the mass murder and gun specifications. During mitigation, the jury heard testimony from the examining doctors and an unsworn statement from Neyland. None of Neyland's family members or friends were called to testify on his behalf. At the conclusion of the mitigation phase, the jury returned a sentence of death. On November 14, 2008, the trial court imposed the death sentence.

{¶ 9} As provided by law, Neyland directly appealed the trial court's judgment to the Ohio Supreme Court, raising many of the same issues he now raises in the instant appeal. His appeal before the Ohio Supreme Court remains pending.

{¶ 10} In addition to his direct appeal, Neyland filed a petition for postconviction relief on April 16, 2010, raising 18 grounds for relief. Essentially, Neyland's grounds for relief can be reduced to the following: (1) Neyland was tried while incompetent in violation of the Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments; (2) Neyland was denied effective assistance of counsel during his competency hearing; (3) Neyland was denied effective assistance of counsel as a result of trial counsel's failure to revisit the issue of competency at the time of trial; (4) the trial court's decision on the issue of Neyland's competency to stand trial was not based on reliable, credible evidence; (5) Neyland was denied effective assistance of counsel during the mitigation hearing; (6) excessive security measures used at trial violated Neyland's due process rights; (7) Neyland was denied effective assistance of counsel as a result of trial counsel's failure to request a change in venue; (8) Neyland is not competent to be executed; and (9) the cumulative effect of the errors violate Neyland's due process rights.

{¶ 11} Following discovery, the state filed a motion for summary judgment as to all claims asserted in Neyland's petition. On March 1, 2012, the trial court granted the state's motion for summary judgment, thereby dismissing Neyland's postconviction petition. In granting summary judgment, the court found that Neyland's claims were either supported by evidence contained within the record, and thus barred by the doctrine of res judicata, or they were otherwise insufficient to give rise to a finding that his constitutional rights were violated. It is from this judgment that Neyland timely appeals.

B. Assignments of Error

{¶ 12} On appeal, Neyland assigns the following errors for our review:

FIRST ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR: THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY APPLYING THE DOCTRINE OF RES JUDICATA TO BAR NEYLAND'S GROUNDS FOR RELIEF.
SECOND ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR: THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DISMISSING NEYLAND'S POST-CONVICTION [PETITION] WHEN HE PRESENTED SUFFICIENT OPERATIVE FACTS TO MERIT RELIEF OR, AT A MINIMUM, AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING.
THIRD ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR: THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DISMISSING NEYLAND'S MOTION FOR A COMPETENCY HEARING WHEN HE PRESENTED SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE HE WAS INCOMPETENT AND [HE] HAD A RIGHT TO BE COMPETENT FOR HIS POST-CONVICTION PROCEEDINGS.

II. Standard of Review

{¶ 13} Postconviction proceedings are governed by the civil rules and the specific statutory requirements articulated in R.C. 2953.21 et seq. Civ.R. 56(C) provides that summary judgment may be granted only if (1) no genuine issue of material fact remains to be litigated; (2) it appears from the evidence that reasonable minds can reach but one conclusion and that conclusion is adverse to the nonmoving party; and (3) the moving party is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. Temple v. Wean United, Inc., 50 Ohio St.2d 317, 327, 364 N.E.2d 267 (1977).

{¶ 14} We have previously held that a trial court's decision to deny a petition for postconviction relief involves mixed questions of law and fact. We review the trial court's decision on factual issues using a manifest weight standard of review, and we review the trial court's decision on legal issues de ...


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