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State v. Carmen

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District

July 31, 2013

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
CHARLES CARMEN, Defendant-Appellant.

Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas TRIAL NO. B-1200408

Joseph T. Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, and Phil Cummings, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Plaintiff-Appellee,

Michaela Stagnaro, for Defendant-Appellant.


Fischer, Judge.

{¶1} Following a bench trial, defendant-appellant Charles Carmen was found guilty of one count of attempted murder, two counts of felonious assault, one count of having a weapon under a disability, and the accompanying firearm specifications in connection with his shooting of Alvin Sanders. At sentencing, the trial court merged the felonious assaults with the attempted murder. It also merged the firearm specifications. The trial court sentenced Carmen to eight years for the attempted murder, to 36 months for the weapons-under-disability offense, and to three years on the merged firearm specifications. The trial court ordered the terms be served consecutively for a total sentence of 14 years in prison.

{¶2} In two assignments of error, Carmen claims (1) that his convictions are not supported by the sufficiency and the weight of the evidence, and (2) that his sentence is contrary to law because the trial court failed to consider the purposes and principles of sentencing and the factors in R.C. 2929.12 and failed to make the findings to impose consecutive prison terms. Finding merit in neither assignment of error, we affirm the trial court's judgment and sentences.

{¶3} On the afternoon of January 16, 2011, Alvin Sanders was sitting in his car when he saw Carmen across the street. Sanders testified that he was angry with Carmen because Carmen owed him money and Sanders had been unable to "catch up" with him. Sanders got out of his car, crossed the street, and confronted Carmen, asking him for the money. When Carmen refused to pay him, Sanders began cussing at Carmen and threatening to "kick his ass." Carmen pulled a gun from his coat and told Sanders that he was "going to die today." He shot Sanders at close range multiple times in the face and body. Sanders fell to the ground after the first or second shot, but Carmen continued shooting. Carmen then ran off

{¶4} Sanders's girlfriend, Tamara Taylor, and James Marion, an uninterested bystander, both witnessed the shooting. Marion called the police. When they arrived, they found Sanders lying unconscious on the sidewalk. Because Sanders had sustained life-threatening injuries, he was immediately transported to the hospital. Sanders testified that he had suffered gunshot wounds to multiple parts of his body, and that he had remained in the hospital for months, undergoing several surgeries. He stated that he was using a wheelchair while he learned to walk again, but that he would never completely recover from his injuries.

{¶5} At the scene of the shooting, the police collected evidence. They recovered three .25-caliber casings on the sidewalk. They interviewed Taylor and Marion, and they obtained still photographs of a man taken just before and after the shooting by a surveillance camera at a nearby convenience store. After identifying Carmen as the man in the photos, the police gave the photos to the local news media in hopes of learning Carmen's whereabouts.

{¶6} The following day, Carmen turned himself in to the police. He was arrested, advised of his Miranda rights, and interviewed by the police. Carmen's interview was recorded and played during the trial. Carmen told police that Sanders had confronted him two times. He had tried to walk away, but Sanders had continued to pursue him. Carmen told police that he had dated Sanders's sister, but that he did not know why Sanders had confronted him. Carmen told police that Sanders often carried a gun, and that Sanders had kept his hands in his pockets during their altercation. He said that he had shot Sanders with a semi-automatic pistol because he was afraid that Sanders was going to shoot him.

{¶7} Sanders, Taylor, and Marion testified at trial. Taylor and Marion corroborated Sanders's testimony. They testified that Sanders had initiated the incident by running across the street to confront Carmen, and that Sanders had yelled and threatened to harm Carmen, but that he had never actually raised his hand to strike Carmen or pulled a weapon on Carmen. Carmen had then stepped forward, pulled a gun from his pocket, and shot Sanders multiple times. Carmen made no attempt to walk away from Sanders before firing. Carmen did not testify at trial, but relied on his earlier statement to police that he had shot Sanders in self-defense.

{¶8} In his first assignment of error, Carmen argues that his convictions for attempted murder and felonious assault were supported by insufficient evidence and were contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence.

{¶9} While the trial court found Carmen guilty of attempted murder and two counts of felonious assault, it merged the felonious assaults with the attempted murder and sentenced Carmen only on the attempted-murder offense. Thus, Carmen was never convicted of the felonious assaults. See State v. Robinson, 187 Ohio App.3d 253, 2010-Ohio-543, 931 N.E.2d 1110, ¶ 26-27 (1st Dist.) As a result, we confine our analysis to the attempted-murder conviction.

{¶10} In reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, this court must determine whether, after viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 386, 678 N.E.2d 541 (1997). In addressing a manifest-weight-of-the-evidence challenge, we must review the entire record, weigh the evidence and all reasonable inferences, consider the credibility of the witnesses, and determine whether, in resolving conflicts in the evidence, the trier of ...

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