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State v. Taylor

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

August 27, 2013

State of Ohio, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Wil W. Taylor, Defendant-Appellant.

APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas C.P.C. No. 10CR-11-6502

Ron O'Brien, Prosecuting Attorney, and Valerie Swanson, for appellee.

Byron L. Potts & Co., LPA, and Gloria L. Smith, for appellant.

DECISION

MCCORMAC, J.

(¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Wil W. Taylor, appeals from a judgment of conviction and sentence entered by the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas following a jury trial in which appellant was found guilty of two counts of felonious assault with accompanying firearm and discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle specifications. For the following reasons, we affirm.

(¶ 2} On November 4, 2010, appellant was indicted on two counts of felonious assault in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(2). Both counts carried specifications under R.C. 2941.145 for use of firearm and under R.C. 2941.146 for discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle.

(¶ 3} The matter came for trial before a jury in June 2012. The state's case was largely based on the testimony of Christion Chavis, the driver of a vehicle into which appellant was alleged to have fired several gunshots. Chavis, 20 years old at the time of trial, testified that he and appellant attended high school together, and appellant and his friends often harassed him at school. At one point, appellant attempted to steal a chain necklace from Chavis. The chain broke during the ensuing fight, but Chavis was able to retrieve it. Although Chavis was offended and angered by appellant's actions, he did not want to retaliate.

(¶ 4} Chavis was also the subject of telephone and computer harassment from appellant and his friends. Appellant left Chavis threatening messages on his Facebook page and tagged him in videos of appellant and his friends posing with guns. In late January 2010, appellant called Chavis and threatened that he "was going to get [him]" and "shoot [him]." (Tr. 117-18.) Chavis testified that he did not know why appellant did not like him, other than that appellant may have been jealous of Chavis because Chavis had been voted "best dressed" in high school. (Tr. 132.)

(¶ 5} On February 6, 2010, Chavis and his friend, Malik Price, went to Eastland Lanes around 9:00 p.m. While the two were bowling, appellant arrived with a group of 8-10 other young men. Chavis testified that all the men, including appellant, were "throwing up gang signs and pointing * * * at [Chavis]." (Tr. 105.) Chavis interpreted these actions to mean that the group "was out to get me or something." (Tr. 106.) Chavis and Price eventually left the bowling alley in Chavis's car, intending to make the 5-10 minute drive to Chavis's home.

(¶ 6} Enroute to his house, Chavis noticed a car with five occupants following him. Chavis recognized three of the men in the car-appellant, Daventa Penn, and a man known to him only as Kenta. Appellant was seated in the front passenger seat; Penn was seated directly behind appellant. Both appellant and Penn had their windows rolled down. Chavis maneuvered into the right turn lane in an effort to elude the other car. The other car then pulled into the left lane and eventually stopped beside Chavis at a traffic light. Chavis estimated the distance between the two cars as "a couple feet away." (Tr. 116.) Chavis testified that he saw appellant "hang[] out [of] the car with [a] gun" and then fire several shots at Chavis's car. (Tr. 113.) Chavis was close enough to appellant to get a "good look" at him. (Tr. 116.) Chavis averred that appellant was talking when he "got out the car, hanging out the car, " but he could not understand what appellant was saying because the windows in Chavis's car were rolled up. (Tr. 152.)

(¶ 7} Chavis also testified that appellant was "grabbing for something, getting ready to hang out the car." (Tr. 154.) He stated that appellant was hanging out of the car window "from his -- his chest up, far enough for him to aim * * * a gun and shoot right next to me." (Tr. 164.) According to Chavis, he was "looking down the barrel of a gun." (Tr. 169.) However, Chavis also testified that appellant initially hung out of the car window without the gun, then grabbed for something inside the car. When Chavis saw this movement, he ducked down because he thought appellant was retrieving a gun. Chavis testified that he did not actually see Chavis shoot the gun at his car; however, he assumed appellant fired the shots because he was the only one who grabbed for something. After the shooting ended, Chavis sat up and saw the car drive off with appellant hanging out of the door with the gun in his hand. Neither Chavis nor Price was hit by any of the bullets.

(¶ 8} Chavis testified that he did not call the police from the scene of the shooting because he was afraid that appellant and his friends would return and shoot at him again. Instead, he drove home and asked his mother to call the police. While he waited for the police, he observed that several of his car windows were heavily damaged from the gunshots and that several bullets and shell casings were scattered throughout the car. At trial, Chavis identified appellant as the shooter.

(¶ 9} In addition to Chavis's testimony, the state presented testimony from three members of the Columbus Police Department. Officer Stephen Asch testified that he was on patrol shortly after midnight on February 7, 2010 when he received a dispatch that a car had been "shot up" near the Speedway gas station at the intersection of Winchester Pike and Refugee Road. (Tr. 31.) Officer Asch responded to the scene and encountered Chavis, alone. Chavis reported that a vehicle with four or five male occupants pulled up next to him while he was stopped at a traffic light on Refugee Road. According to Officer Asch, Chavis said that appellant, one of the passengers in the vehicle, fired three shots into Chavis's vehicle, and then turned left onto Winchester Pike. Officer Asch did not interview anyone else and did not find any bullets or shell casings at the scene.

(¶ 10} Detective Delbert Chapman testified that he interviewed Chavis at his home at approximately 1:30 a.m. on February 7, 2010. During that interview, Chavis reported the details of the shooting and identified appellant as the shooter. He told Detective Chapman he believed the impetus for the shooting was the fact that the two had been engaged in an ongoing dispute over a chain necklace. According to Detective Chapman, Chavis also stated that prior to the February 7, 2010 incident, appellant had threatened to shoot Chavis's car with a .22-caliber revolver.

(¶ 11} Detective Chapman took photographs of Chavis's car as part of his investigation. These photographs, identified at trial by Detective Chapman as state's exhibit Nos. 1-8, depict Chavis's car after the alleged shooting. The front driver's side window and the right rear passenger window are completely blown out. Detective Chapman testified that there is a "very good possibility" that bullets pierced the glass in these windows and the glass later "crumble[d]" at the scene or during Chavis's drive home. (Tr. 66.) The glass in the left rear passenger window contains a hole but otherwise remains intact. According to Detective Chapman, the hole in the left rear passenger window indicates that a gunshot had been fired through the window. He further testified that he examined the vehicle's interior, which revealed no bullets, bullet fragments, or bullet strikes. He explained that there was a "strong possibility" that bullets entered the vehicle through a window, crossed through the interior of the vehicle, and exited through another window. (Tr. 55.)

(¶ 12} Detective Chapman further testified that he drove to the Speedway station after concluding the interview with Chavis. There, a clerk who was working at the time of the incident reported that she did not hear any gunshots and did not hear or see anything related to the incident.

(¶ 13} Detective James Howe testified that he interviewed Price while Detective Chapman interviewed Chavis. According to Detective Howe, the Price interview generated no viable suspects and produced nothing useful to the investigation "other than a shooting occurred." (Tr. 93.) Detective Howe stated that Price did not provide a specific name for the shooter and did not mention appellant's name.

(¶ 14} Appellant presented no evidence in his defense, and the jury returned verdicts finding him guilty of all counts charged in the indictment. Following a sentencing hearing on September 6, 2012, the trial court sentenced appellant to two years for each of the felonious assault convictions, to be served concurrently, three years for each of the firearm specifications, to be served consecutively to each other and to the term imposed on the felonious assault convictions, and five years for each of the discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle specifications, to be served concurrently to each other but consecutive to the terms imposed on the felonious assault convictions and the firearm specifications. In sum, the trial court imposed a prison sentence of 13 years.

(¶ 15} Appellant appeals, assigning the following three errors:

[I.] THE FELONIOUS ASSAULT CONVICTIONS AND SPECIFICATIONS MUST BE REVERSED BECAUSE THEY WERE OBTAINED THROUGH INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF TRIAL COUNSEL IN VIOLATION OF THE SIXTH AMENDMENT TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION.
[II.] THE FELONIOUS ASSAULT CONVICTIONS MUST BE REVERSED BECAUSE THEY WERE OBTAINED AGAINST THE ...

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