Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Rick L. Ferrara
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga
County Prosecutor By: John Colan Patrick J. Lavelle Assistant
BEFORE: Keough, A.J., E.A. Gallagher, J., and McCormack, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
KATHLEEN ANN KEOUGH, A.J.
Defendant-appellant, Mario L. Edmonds ("Edmonds"),
appeals from the trial court's judgment finding him
guilty of involuntary manslaughter, corrupting another with
drugs, drug trafficking, drug possession, and possessing
criminal tools, and sentencing him to nine years
incarceration. Finding no merit to the appeal, we affirm.
Procedural History and Facts
Edmonds was indicted in a multicount indictment on one count
of involuntary manslaughter in violation of R.C. 2903.04(A);
one count of corrupting another with drugs in violation of
R.C. 2925.02(A)(3); two counts of drug trafficking in
violation of R.C. 2925.03(A)(2); two counts of drug
possession in violation of R.C. 2925.11(A); and one count of
possessing criminal tools in violation of R.C. 2923.24(A).
All counts except for the involuntary manslaughter count
carried forfeiture specifications. Edmonds pleaded not
guilty, and the matter proceeded to a bench trial at which
the following evidence was adduced.
On May 31, 2015, at approximately 1 p.m., police and
paramedics responded to an apartment at 3495 East 98th Street
in Cleveland in response to a 911 call of a possible
overdose. The victim's former girlfriend, Marshanette
Johnson ("Johnson"), called 911 when she found
William Cohen ("Cohen") lying unresponsive on the
floor of her apartment with a needle in his hand.
Johnson testified that she and Cohen had been in a
relationship for 38 years, although they were not together in
May 2015. Johnson, a former drug addict, said that Cohen had
been a heroin addict for over 30 years, and that he used
heroin every day. She testified that Cohen arrived at her
apartment sometime between 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on May
31, 2015, and that he was not high when he arrived. She said
that they talked briefly and then left the apartment for
approximately 10 or 15 minutes. Johnson said that after they
went back to the apartment, she went to the bathroom, and
when she came out five minutes later, she saw Cohen lying on
the kitchen floor.
Cleveland police officer Ryan McMahon testified that when he
and his partner responded to the scene, they observed drug
paraphernalia and a cell phone on the kitchen table. Johnson
told the officers that no one other than Cohen had been in
the apartment that day, and that she did not know where Cohen
got the drugs he overdosed on, but that he must have had them
on him when he arrived at her apartment.
Cleveland police detective John Cline testified that he
collected evidence from Johnson's apartment, including
Cohen's cell phone and two tear-offs. The tear-offs
were later submitted to the Cuyahoga County forensic science
laboratory for analysis but an insufficient quantity of DNA
was detected on the items to allow testing. A bottle cap
found on Johnson's kitchen table subsequently tested
positive for heroin and fentanyl residue.
Cuyahoga County Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Erica Armstrong
testified that the results of an autopsy performed on Cohen
demonstrated that he used drugs within 24 hours of his death
and died accidentally from acute intoxication caused by the
combined effects of fentanyl and cocaine. She testified
further that the autopsy showed that Cohen had died within
several minutes of injecting the fentanyl, and that the level
of fentanyl in his system was lethal.
Cleveland police detective Scott Moran ("Moran")
also responded to the scene. He testified that because Cohen
had no other drugs on his person and there were no other
drugs in the apartment, it was apparent the drug
paraphernalia recovered from Johnson's apartment was
related to the drugs Cohen used in his fatal overdose.
Upon looking at Cohen's cell phone, Det. Moran saw that
the last text message Cohen received the day he died was at
11:43 a.m. from telephone number (216) 804-****. A Facebook
search matched the number to Edmonds's Facebook page and
After obtaining a search warrant, the police extracted data
regarding incoming and outgoing calls and text messages from
Cohen's phone. Det. Moran testified that state's
exhibit No. 35, the extraction report, demonstrated the
following. On May 18, 2015, Cohen received a text from
Edmonds's number stating, "U holding me up big bra
what's up." On May 28, 2015, Cohen received a text
from a number later identified as belonging to Edmonds's
mother that said, "My Mario
1216804****." On May 31, 2015, the day he died, Cohen
called that number at 11:04 a.m.; the call lasted only 35
seconds. At 11:35 a.m., Cohen called the number again; this
time the call lasted 1 minute, 16 seconds. At 11:43 a.m.,
Cohen received a text from that number that stated "97
Denison." Cohen called the number after receiving the
text; the call lasted 30 seconds. At 12:08 p.m., Cohen called
the number again; the call lasted 34 seconds.
Det. Moran testified that he had 11 years' experience in
the police department narcotics unit and, as a result of his
undercover work, was knowledgeable about how drug dealers and
users in Cuyahoga County operate and communicate. He said
that the amount of calls, the short duration of the calls,
and the text message with only a location that were found on
Cohen's cell phone were all consistent with the manner in
which drug deals are facilitated.
The police decided to pose as Cohen to see if they could get
Edmonds, the suspected drug dealer, to meet them. At 11:20
a.m. on June 1, 2015, using Cohen's cell phone, Det.
Moran sent a text to Edmonds's number asking "you
around?" Three minutes later, Det. Moran received two
telephone calls from that number. He decided not to answer
the calls because he knew he would not sound like Cohen.
Instead, at 11:23 a.m., Det. Moran sent a text message that
said, "about to leave my girl's, can't talk
right now, wanted to see you."
Only a minute later, at 11:24 a.m., Det. Moran received a
text that said "St. Clair." At 11:26 a.m., Det.
Moran responded, "OK, how long?" He immediately
received a text reply stating, "come to me if you
can." Det. Moran responded, "leaving in a minute.
Where on St. Clair?" At 11:27 a.m., an incoming text to
Cohen's cell phone stated, "66th." Det. Moran
responded at 11:28 a.m. stating, "OK same thing as
yesterday leaving ...