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State v. Eggers

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District

July 19, 2013

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
ADAM EGGERS Defendant-Appellant

Criminal Appeal from Common Pleas Court Trial Court Case No. 2011-CR-40

LISA M. FANNIN, Atty. Reg. #0082337, Clark County Prosecutor's Office, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee

CHRISTOPHER W. THOMPSON, Atty. Reg. #0055379, Attorney for Defendant-Appellant

OPINION

FAIN, P.J.

{¶ 1} Defendant-appellant Adam Eggers appeals from his conviction and sentence for Felony Murder, following a plea bargain. Eggers contends that his guilty plea and waiver of rights were not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily made, due to the trial court's failure to comply with Crim.R. 11 during the plea colloquy and the trial court's mistake in sentencing Eggers to a term of postrelease control. We conclude that the trial court complied with Crim.R. 11 by informing Eggers of his rights and determining that Eggers understood that a guilty plea waived those rights. We further conclude that the trial court erred in sentencing Eggers to postrelease control, but that Eggers has failed to demonstrate that he was prejudiced by the trial court's error. Accordingly, the portion of the trial court's judgment imposing a five-year term of postrelease control is Vacated, and the judgment is Affirmed in all other respects.

I. Course of the Proceedings

{¶ 2} In May 2010, Adam Eggers fired four shots into a residence located at 926 Southfield Avenue in Springfield, Ohio, with the intention of killing Dustin Bryant. One of the shots went through a wall and struck Julie Snyder, killing her instantly. Eggers was indicted on one count of Aggravated Murder, R.C. 2903.01(A), with a firearm specification, two counts of Felony Murder, R.C. 2903.02(B), each with a firearm specification, one count of Felonious Assault, R.C. 2903.11(A)(2), with a firearm specification, one count of Improperly Discharging a Firearm at or into a Habitation, R.C. 2923.161(A)(1), and one count of Improper Handling of Firearms in a Motor Vehicle, R.C. 2923.16(B). Dkt. 1.

{¶ 3} Pursuant to a plea agreement, Eggers pled guilty to Felony Murder, as charged in count three of the indictment, causing the death of another as a proximate result of improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation, in violation of R.C. 2903.02(B) and 2923.161(A)(1). In exchange for Eggers's guilty plea, the State dismissed the firearm specification attached to count three and the remaining charges and specifications. The parties agreed that Eggers's sentence would be fifteen years to life.

{¶ 4} Immediately after accepting his guilty plea, the trial court sentenced Eggers to life imprisonment with parole eligibility after fifteen years. The trial court also sentenced Eggers to a mandatory five-year term of post-release control. Dkt. 23.

{¶ 5} Eggers appeals from his conviction and sentence.[1] Eggers's appellate counsel filed a brief pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 87 S.Ct. 1396, 19 L.Ed.2d 493 (1967), stating that he could find no meritorious issues for appellate review, but suggesting two potential issues for review. We notified Eggers of his appellate counsel's representations and afforded him time to file a pro se brief Eggers filed a pro se brief raising three issues for review, which involved the same matters his appellate counsel had assigned as potential error. Based on our review of the issues raised by appellate counsel and Eggers, we determined that there was a non-frivolous issue with respect to whether Eggers's plea was knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently made. Therefore, we appointed new appellate counsel to argue the error assigned, as well as any other error counsel should deem meritorious. State v. Eggers, 2d Dist. Clark No. 11CA48, 2012-Ohio-2967. Eggers's new appellate counsel subsequently filed a brief raising two assignments of error, which we address herein.

II. The Trial Court Adequately Explained Eggers's Rights and Determined that Eggers's Plea Was Knowing, Intelligent, and Voluntary

{¶ 6} Eggers's First Assignment of Error states:

APPELLANT'S GUILTY PLEA AND WAIVER OF RIGHTS WERE NOT KNOWINGLY, INTELLIGENTLY AND VOLUNTARILY MADE.

{¶ 7} At the plea hearing, counsel for the State explained the terms of the plea agreement. Tr. 3. The State then placed the pertinent facts on the record relating to the night that Julie Snyder was killed. Id. at 4-5. Eggers acknowledged that he understood the terms of the plea agreement, and said that he was not under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication. Eggers informed the trial court that he had signed the plea agreement after reviewing it with his attorney, and that he understood the agreement. Eggers stated that no one had threatened him to convince him to plead, and that he was pleading guilty voluntarily. The court then explained to Eggers the punishment for the offense of Felony Murder, and that Eggers was subject to a mandatory five years of post-release control. Id. at 5-8.

{¶ 8} The trial court then engaged in the following colloquy with Eggers:

THE COURT: And do you understand that you do have the right to a trial in this case?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, Your Honor.
THE COURT: At that trial you would have the right to require the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt each and every element of the offense to which you are pleading guilty, and you could only be convicted upon the unanimous verdict of a jury. You would have the right to confront witnesses who would testify against you, and your attorney could cross-examine those witnesses. You would have the right to use the Court's subpoena power to compel the attendance of witnesses on your behalf, ...

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