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State v. Ream

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District

September 30, 2013


Appeal from Allen County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No. CR20110411

Michael J. Short for Appellant.

Jana E. Emerick for Appellee.



(¶1} Defendant-Appellant, James R. Ream ("Ream"), appeals the judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Allen County, finding him guilty of murder with a firearm specification and sentencing him to 18 years to life in prison. On appeal, Ream contends the trial court erred by: (1) failing to suppress statements made during police interviews after he purportedly invoked his Fifth Amendment Right to counsel; (2) disallowing the testimony of his expert witness; (3) failing to give proper jury instructions; (4) denying his motion for new counsel; and (5) permitting the introduction of prejudicial photographs. Ream also claims that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

(¶2} On November 17, 2011, the Allen County Grand Jury indicted Ream on one count of murder in violation of R.C. 2903.02(A), a felony of the first degree. The indictment also carried a firearm specification. The indictment arose from Ream's alleged shooting of Ronald Ream ("Ron"), his older brother, at 1240 Fairgreen Road, which was the residence they shared ("1240 Fairgreen").

(¶3} This matter has five relevant stages: (1) the pre-trial proceedings relating to Ream's motion to suppress; (2) the pre-trial proceedings relating to the Daubert hearing of Ream's expert witness; (3) the pre-trial proceedings relating to Ream's motion for new counsel; (4) the pre-trial proceedings to suppress prejudicial photographs; and (5) the trial. We address each stage below in sequence.

Ream's Motion to Suppress

(¶4} On February 6, 2011, Ream filed a motion to suppress his statements made during two police interrogations that occurred on October 18, 2011 and October 20, 2011. He argued that the statements were taken after he invoked his Fifth Amendment right to counsel. The trial court conducted a suppression hearing on March 2, 2011. At the hearing, the following relevant evidence was adduced.

(¶5} Detective Mark Baker, from the Allen County Sheriffs Office, testified regarding his role in interviewing Ream. On October 18, 2011, Detective Baker learned that Ream had approached another deputy and stated that he was involved in the murder of Ron. Detective Baker was assigned to speak with Ream while other officers investigated the potential crime scene. Prior to the interrogation, Detective Baker read Ream an advice of rights form, which Ream subsequently signed at 12:52 p.m. After signing the form, Ream agreed to talk with Detective Baker.

(¶6} Two days later, on October 20, 2011, Detective Baker had another interview with Ream. Once again, Detective Baker read the advice of rights form to Ream, which Ream signed at 2:20 p.m. Subsequently, Detective Baker began his interview with Ream. Detective Baker testified that Ream did not exercise his right to counsel during the interview and freely and voluntarily answered all of Detective Baker's questions.

(¶7} The advice of rights form contained the following language:

1. You have the right to remain silent.
2. Anything you say can be used against you in court.
3. You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions and to have a lawyer with you during questioning.
4. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning, if you wish.
5. If you decide to answer questions now without a lawyer present, you still have the right to stop answering questions at any time. You also have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to a lawyer.
I have read this statement of my rights, and I understand what my rights are. I am willing to make a statement and answer questions. I do not want a lawyer at this time. I understand and know what I am doing. No promises or threats have been made to me and no pressure or coercion of any kind has been used against me.

(Suppression Hearing, State's Exhibit 1, 2).

(¶8} On cross examination, Ream's trial counsel elicited the following testimony:

Q: Do you remember immediately in the beginning of [the second interview] approximately three and a half (3 ½) minutes in, Mr. Ream saying to you that you're going to have to provide me with a counsel?
A: Yes.
Q: And what was your response?
A: I told him we could talk if we – if he wanted to talk. If he wanted counsel I would get him counsel and I think through that whole interview I I [sic] probably brought that up a half a dozen times.
* * *
Q: Do you remember at approximately three (3) minutes later approximately 6:50 into the statement where [Ream] said to you that he was willing to cooperate but he wanted to have s- [sic] an attorney appointed there so he could talk to him so that he knew how [to] answer the questions?
A: No, he never he never directly asked for an attorney I would have stopped the interview right away.
Q: So, he never stated to you that he wanted an attorney there to assist him in how to answer the questions?
A: No, he said he was willing to talk to me about things that he could remember and he didn't want to talk about things he couldn't remember without an attorney. I told him I understood that. You can answer any question you want and you can refuse to answer anything you want or just can just simply refuse to talk to me altogether.

Suppression Hearing Tr., p. 17-19.

(¶9} After Ream was done with cross-examination, the State moved to admit Ream's signed advice of rights forms and the recorded interview DVDs into evidence.

(¶10} The recordings reveal the following relevant evidence. Once Detective Baker entered the interview room, he introduced himself, gave Ream cigarettes and obtained general information about Ream. Ream was then read his advice of rights form, which led Ream and Detective Baker to have the following exchange:

Baker: First thing I wanna do though, you are not arrested at this moment, okay? Not technically in custody. I'm going to read you your rights, these items here, one through five are your Miranda rights, I'm going to read them out loud for you. You can follow along with this paper. [Reads Miranda rights out loud]. Do you understand what those rights mean?
Ream: Yeah. I can give you some basics, but I do need a public defender or somebody to tell me what I should be saying, what I shouldn't.
Baker: Okay, alright. What I am going to do is go through this [form] and have you sign it, that I presented you with your rights.
Ream: [inaudible]
Baker: Hang on a second, one step at a time. Just slow down a bit, now I am going to ask you to sign these consent to search forms okay? This waiver of rights down here this paragraph, will you read that out loud?
[Ream begins to read the waiver paragraph out loud]
Ream: Uhh it says, "I do not want an attorney."
Baker: Yeah, you don't have to agree to that.
[Ream finishes reading the waiver out loud]
Baker: Do you understand what that means?
Ream: Yeah.
Baker: That means you have been provided with your rights and you understand what they are. And if you decide to talk to me now and answer any questions you can stop answering questions at any time, okay?
Ream: Yeah, I'm just going to give you the basics. Because I can't can't [sic] even piece it all together.

(Suppression Hearing, State's Exhibit 3). At this point, Ream signed the advice of rights form.

(¶11} The interview continued with Ream telling Detective Baker about the shooting. About 26 minutes into the interview, the following exchange occurred regarding the assignment of a public defender:

Ream: I will make you a deal. Give me some time to recount what happened. Get a public defender here with me so he can tell me what I am allowed to tell you because it's your job to provide the prosecutor with information and I can't give you information right now, my mind in spinning right now * * *. So please, I provided you with the basics right now, let me rethink what actually happened. Right now I am running a fever. Thank you for the cigarettes * * * that ain't right, I flipped out on him. I sat there for hours not realizing -
Baker: That you shot your brother?
Ream: Yeah, it didn't seem real, so unrealistic.

(Id.). Ream then continued to talk to Detective Baker about the incident, without asking for an attorney.

(¶12} The second interview of Ream occurred on October 20, 2011. Detective Baker again conducted the interview. Before asking any questions concerning the investigation, Detective Baker asked Ream to once again read and sign the advice of rights form. The following conversation then took place:

Ream: They're gonna have to provide me with some counsel. I'll be happy to talk to you and fill in the gaps, but right now I'm still trying to remember what the gaps are.
Baker: You are in custody and I do have to read you your rights and we will talk about them. The reason I brought you up today because the prosecutor called me * * * they have, obviously, completed the process of the crime scene * * * there are some questions about certain things that happened based on what you told me yesterday.
Ream: You know what, I'm still drawing blanks.
Baker: Let me ask you this question. I don't want to get into it, without being legal. It is for your protection. If I go over the waiver of rights form with you and go through that process like we did on day one, when we first sat down, can we talk about some of the things that happened?
Ream: I'll tell you this. Let's rehash the last two weeks.
Baker: Ok we can do that. Let's do this [pointing to the waiver] then we'll do that. * * * I don't want you to go through anything without acknowledging that [referring to the waiver].
* * *
[Detective Baker reads the waiver out loud for Ream].
Ream: Before I sign this, I am more than willing to cooperate, I need to have whoever they assigned [to] me present for any pertinent questions.
Baker: That's fair. We can do this, if you want to talk about certain things that's fine with me.
Ream: I'm gonna help you piece together what led up to all this. That I can do and I know I am in the clear.
Baker: Let me cover my butt here. If you don't want to talk to me without a lawyer we don't have to talk at all.
Ream: Well I can say things up to the incident but I'm still trying to figure out how the incident got started to be honest with you.
Baker: If we come across something that you want to talk to me and we come across something that you don't want to talk about, we don't have to.
Ream: We'll go ahead and I will sign these papers for you. And we'll start from a couple of weeks ago, and I will tell you what led up to that point, but I am not going to answer anything that I don't know what to tell you.

(Suppression Hearing, State's Exhibit 4). At this point, Ream read the waiver statement out loud and subsequently signed the form.

(¶13} Detective Baker then asked Ream questions regarding what led up to the shooting. Throughout the questioning, Ream answered Detective Baker's questions. However, Ream mentioned a public defender a few times. Nevertheless, after these isolated statements, Ream offered more information about the shooting. Ream's references to a public defender led to the following discussion:

Baker: Let me ask you something here. This isn't even about your case, it ain't about what you did. A couple of times now you've brought up the fact, let me talk to the, whoever my public defender will be, do you think your public defender, is it because you don't want to talk to me about it without counsel? If that's the case, all you have to do it tell me that. Or do you think that, in your mind, that talking to the public defender is gonna help you remember some things. I am confused now.
Ream: No. So he can tell me what I am allowed to say.
Baker: Are you afraid to tell me some things? Is that it?
Ream: You know what, I can't remember a lot of what actually took place right there, because my mind was going about 15 different directions before that happened, trying to remember what I couldn't take what I needed to do before. And out of the blue, he got really, I mean he just he was almost like the devil came over him or something you know, that's what I remember * * *.
Baker: You talk a lot and I listen * * * I don't want to sit here and I'm not gonna play a tricking game with you. When I read you your Miranda rights, it's for a reason, and I have to abide by it. If you don't, I have some questions that pertain directly to –
Ream: I don't trust me.
* * *
Baker: I guess in my world, most of the time anyway, things are black and white. A guy either wants to talk to me or he doesn't.
Ream: I want to, I just can't.
Baker: Or you feel like legally you don't want to talk to me because you want to talk to your attorney.
Ream: Well that's part of it, that's part of it. But the part of it, is I'm blanked out * * *.
Baker: I just kinda wanna distinguish which one of the two it is. Because, if it's Rick legally James R. Ream[1] wants to not talk to me because he wants his attorney, I want to leave the room.
Ream: No, that's not it. Look I know you are a good guy okay, I know what your position is here. I wanna fill in the gaps, I wanna clarify that right here and now. But I can't remember exactly what took place other than him lunging * * *.
Baker: I would never be upset with you, I would never be mad, I would never call you a a a liar or a deceiver for the simple fact you can't remember what happened because so much happened. Like I said, I am just trying to distinguish between whether or not you wanna talk to me about it, about what you can remember, and the gaps you can fill in or if you just don't want to. That's what I am trying to get at.
Ream: The only reason I said that about the legal counsel, is because I think having a mediator here, okay, will help out a little bit. That's what I am saying.
Baker: I am not pressuring you or anything.
Ream: No you're not. No no no no please don't put that on yourself
Baker: I am not trying to make you talk about anything you don't want to talk about.

(Suppression Hearing, State's Exhibit 4).

(¶14} On April 2, 2011, the trial court denied Ream's motion to suppress. The trial court found that Ream was properly advised of his Miranda rights, he validly waived them, and he never invoked his right to counsel during either interview.

Daubert Hearing

(¶15} On July 9, 2012, Ream disclosed that he intended to call Dr. Matthew Ziccardi as an expert witness at trial. On July 19, 2012, the State filed a Motion in Limine to prohibit Dr. Ziccardi from testifying at trial regarding his July 5, 2012 report. Dr. Ziccardi's report, in relevant part, stated the following:

After reviewing the records and interviewing Mr. Ream for over four hours, I submit my clinical opinion that he was in a state of shock after the alleged offense and did not act in a rational manner. His actions in the many hours after the alleged offense, including leaving to get gas, money, and breakfast, are inconsistent with an individual trying to elude capture and/or punishment. His mind set was that an individual who was overwhelmed by the event and stricken with grief, shame, and fear. His actions on the following morning, including giving possessions to family members and approaching police, are again consistent with a person who feels he is facing punishment for the situation.
In delving into Mr. Ream's background, he has suffered from mental illness for much of his adult life. He has been hospitalized on two occasions for suicidal ideation and depression and battled substance abuse. He also has a history of poor judgment and decision making, such as living at a homeless shelter despite having the means to support himself His relationship with his brother was both close and tortured, wherein he idolized his brother but was also bullied by him. This is why he reacted in such an illogical manner after the alleged offense. He simply could not believe his actions, the outcome, or the fact that he ...

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