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State v. Dumas

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Mahoning

February 24, 2017


         Criminal Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Mahoning County, Ohio Case No. 11 CR 429

          For Plaintiff-Appellee: Atty. Paul J. Gains Mahoning County Prosecutor Atty. Ralph M. Rivera Assistant Prosecuting Attorney

          For Defendant-Appellant: Nathaniel Dumas, Pro se

          Hon. Cheryl L. Waite Hon. Mary DeGenaro Hon. Carol Ann Robb


          WAITE, J.

         {¶1} Appellant Nathaniel Dumas appeals the June 5, 2015 decision of the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas to deny his delayed petition for postconviction relief. Appellant argues that videotaped witness statements provide evidence that multiple witnesses perjured themselves. Without the testimony of these witnesses, Appellant contends that there was insufficient evidence to support his felony murder, aggravated robbery, and accompanying firearm specification convictions. Additionally, Appellant argues that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance of counsel. For the following reasons, Appellant's arguments are without merit and the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

         Factual and Procedural History

         {¶2} This postconviction petition stems from an incident that occurred on April 8, 2011. On that date, Appellant and his cousin, Warren Wright, recruited James Thomas to assist in their plan to rob the Galaxy Seafood store. Appellant and Wright paid Thomas $20 to ring the doorbell buzzer at the Galaxy so that someone would let them inside.

         {¶3} When they arrived at the Galaxy, Appellant dropped off Wright and Thomas a few blocks away before parking in the Galaxy parking lot. Wright and Thomas entered the store and began to execute the robbery. An off-duty police officer who had been hired by the Galaxy as a security guard intervened and attempted to stop the robbery. After the men refused to drop their guns, the security guard fired his weapon, shooting and killing Wright. Appellant fled the scene upon hearing the gunshot.

          {¶4} Thomas, who was wearing a mask during the robbery, was in a group of people waiting to be interviewed by police before leaving the restaurant when another witness implicated him in the robbery. After initially denying involvement in the crime, Thomas eventually admitted that he and Appellant were involved in the robbery. Appellant was arrested and charged with felony murder, aggravated robbery, and a firearm specification.

         {¶5} Pursuant to a Crim.R. 11 plea agreement, Thomas provided a videotaped statement implicating Appellant and testified at trial. An eyewitness who saw Appellant get into the car and drive away after the robbery also testified. The witness could not identify Appellant in a photo array but did testify as to the perpetrator's physical characteristics. Additionally, Wright's sister also testified at trial and stated that Appellant had admitted his role in the robbery to her. After a jury trial, Appellant was found guilty on all charges and was sentenced to a period of incarceration of fifteen years to life on the felony murder charge, ten years of incarceration on the aggravated robbery charge, and three years on the firearm specification. The trial court ordered all counts to run consecutively for an aggregate sentence of twenty-eight years to life.

         {¶6} We affirmed Appellant's conviction and sentence in State v. Dumas, 7th Dist. No. 12 MA 31, 2015-Ohio-2683 ("Dumas I"). Shortly thereafter, we denied Appellant's motion to reopen his appeal in State v. Dumas, 7th Dist. No. 12 MA 0031, 2016-Ohio-4799 ("Dumas II"). Subsequently, Appellant filed a Writ of Mandamus against his trial counsel, appellate counsel, the prosecutor, and the trial court judge in Dumas v. Carofolo, et al ., 7th Dist. No. 15 MA 0065, 2016-Ohio-4820, ("Dumas III") which was also denied.

         {¶7} On May 22, 2015, Appellant filed a motion for leave to file a delayed petition for postconviction relief. On June 5, 2015, the trial court dismissed the petition as untimely. Appellant timely appeals from this judgment.

         {¶8} It is noted that Appellant filed a "Rule 3 Complaint" in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio on August 8, 2014. In Appellant's complaint he asserted the same claims he raises in his postconviction petition. On December 22, 2014, the Court dismissed the action and certified that an appeal from the decision could not be taken in good faith. On March 13, 2015, the docket sheet shows an appeal order from the Sixth Circuit was denied. The docket sheet further shows that a writ of mandamus was filed and denied. An appeal to the Sixth Circuit regarding the writ of mandamus was also denied. On September 27, ...

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