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State v. Inman

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth District

July 23, 2013

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
WILLIAM A. INMAN, II, Defendant-Appellant.

David J. Winkelmann, Athens, Ohio, for Appellant.

Michael DeWine, Attorney General of Ohio, and Paul Scarsella, Special Hocking County Prosecutor, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellee.

DECISION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY

Marie Hoover, Judge

{¶ 1} A jury found the appellant, William Inman, II, guilty of two counts of Aggravated Murder; Kidnapping; Tampering with Evidence; and the Gross Abuse of a Corpse in relation to the disappearance and murder of his wife, Summer Inman. The Hocking County Common Pleas Court denied appellant's subsequent motion for a new trial. In this case, appellant contends that the trial court erred when it denied his motion for a mistrial based on the State's purported failure to disclose a witness statement prior to the start of trial. Next, appellant contends that the trial court erred in its denial of his motion for a new trial. Specifically, appellant argues that the State's failure to disclose a prior felony conviction of one of its witnesses hindered his ability to impeach the credibility of the witness and violated his rights to a fair trial. Finally, appellant contends that the cumulative effect of the alleged errors merit reversal of his conviction in the instant case. For the following reasons, appellant's three assignments of error are overruled. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

I

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

{¶ 2} Appellant was indicted by a Hocking County Grand Jury with the following counts in relation to the murder of his wife: two counts of Aggravated Murder in violation of R.C. 2903.01(A) and (B) with specifications under R.C. 2941.14; Murder in violation of R.C. 2903.02(A); Kidnapping in violation of R.C. 2905.01(A)(3); Tampering with Evidence in violation of R.C. 2921.12(A)(1); and Gross Abuse of a Corpse in violation of R.C. 2927.01. After a lengthy jury trial in May and June of 2012, appellant was convicted of the two Aggravated Murder counts; the Kidnapping charge; the Tampering with Evidence charge; and the Gross Abuse of a Corpse charge. The Murder charge was subsequently dismissed by judgment entry of the trial court. Appellant was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole on the Aggravated Murder convictions; the life sentence was ordered to run consecutively with the sentences for the convictions of Kidnapping, Tampering with Evidence, and Gross Abuse of a Corpse.

{¶ 3} Following the guilty verdicts, appellant filed a timely motion for a new trial pursuant to Crim.R. 33(A)(1) and (2), together with an affidavit of counsel alleging that the State had failed to disclose the prior felony conviction of John Anthony Matheny whose testimony placed appellant in Logan, Ohio, on the night of the victim's disappearance. The trial court denied the motion. This appeal followed.

{¶ 4} Appellant raises three assignments of error for review.

First Assignment of Error:

The Trial Court Erred in Failing to Grant a Mistrial Due to the Surprise Testimony of John Anthony Methany Identifying William Inman II as a Person he Saw in Logan, Ohio on March 22, 201[1].

Second Assignment of Error:

The Trial Court Erred When it Declined to Grant William Inman II a New Trial Based on the Prosecutor's Misconduct in Failing to Disclose the Prior Felony Conviction of the State's Sole Identification Witness.

Third Assignment of Error:

The Trial Court's Failure to Grant the Defense Motion for Mistrial or to Grant a New Trial Based on the Prosecution's Failure to Inform Counsel of Matheny's Identification Testimony and Prior Conviction Constitutes Cumulative Error.

II

FACTS

{¶ 5} A review of the record reveals the following facts that are pertinent to this appeal.[1] On the evening of March 22, 2011, Summer Inman was kidnapped from her place of employment in Logan, Ohio. After a weeklong search, Summer was found dead, stuffed in the septic system behind the Faith Tabernacle Church in Athens County, Ohio. Industrial zip ties had been fastened around her wrists and neck. The official cause of death was ligature strangulation.

{¶ 6} On March 23, 2011, numerous law enforcement officers questioned the appellant. Appellant indicated to law enforcement that he and his parents had been house hunting in Cleveland, Ohio, on March 22, 2011. He acknowledged that they had been driving a white Crown Victoria, which his father had purchased on either March 18 or 19, 2011.[2] Appellant also indicated that the vehicle had broken down along an interstate in the Cleveland area, and that he and his parents had spent the night in the vehicle.

{¶ 7} At appellant's trial, several individuals testified to having witnessed either the kidnapping, or the vehicle, which was allegedly used in the kidnapping and murder.

{¶ 8} Kylee Helman who had been jogging in Logan, Ohio, on the night of March 22, 2011, testified that she heard screams coming from the alley near the bank where the victim had been working. She immediately ran to the area and saw two men use a taser on an unidentified female and then she saw the men place the female into a vehicle. She testified that the vehicle looked like an old, white police cruiser; and that the vehicle had no visible license plates.

{¶ 9} Emily Hedges who had accompanied Helman on the evening jog, also testified at trial. Hedges testified that she witnessed two men surrounding a female in the alley near the bank. Hedges said that the men appeared to be wearing ski masks. She could hear a taser, and she also heard the voice of a woman coming from the driver's side of the vehicle. Hedges described the vehicle as a white, undercover police cruiser. Hedges said the vehicle had tinted windows, a spotlight, and no visible license plates.

{ΒΆ 10} Linda Harris testified that she was driving in the downtown Logan area on the night of the incident when she heard screams and yelling. As she was driving, she saw a vehicle and two people arguing near the bank parking lot. She described the car as white, ...


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