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State v. Johnson

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Stark

March 31, 2017

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
JUSTIN LAMAR JOHNSON Defendant-Appellant

         Appeal from the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2016CR0046

          For Plaintiff-Appellee JOHN D. FERRERO Prosecuting Attorney, By: RONALD MARK CALDWELL Assistant Prosecuting Attorney.

          For Defendant-Appellant MARY G. WARLOP, Abney Law Office, LLC.

          JUDGES: Hon. William B. Hoffman, P.J. Hon. John W. Wise, J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J.

          OPINION

          BALDWIN, J.

         {¶1} Appellant Justin Lamar Johnson appeals a judgment of the Stark County Common Pleas Court convicting him of having a weapon while under disability (R.C. 2923.13(A)(3)) and sentencing him to twenty-four months incarceration. Appellee is the State of Ohio.

         STATEMENT OF THE FACTS AND CASE

         {¶2} Appellant was indicted by the Stark County Grand Jury with felonious assault, discharging a firearm on or near prohibited premises, and having a weapon while under disability. The case proceeded to a jury trial on the charges of felonious assault and discharging a firearm on or near prohibited premises, while the charge of having a weapon under a disability was tried to the court.

         {¶3} The State presented testimony at trial that on December 23, 2015, appellant attended a party on Plain Avenue in Canton. Julius Jones and his girlfriend Shelby Bell were at the party. Conflicting testimony was presented as to whether just alcohol, or both alcohol and drugs were consumed at the party. During the party, Logan Cundiff showed a handgun to people at the party. Appellant offered to buy the handgun. However, the homeowner ordered everyone to leave, breaking up the party.

         {¶4} According to the State's evidence, Jones and Bell went to a nearby drive-thru to buy cigarettes and beer on their way home. As they walked down an adjacent alley after leaving the drive-thru, they saw appellant walking toward them. Jones became angry and asked appellant why he was following them. Logan Cundiff also arrived on the scene. Appellant pulled out the gun Cundiff had shown him at the party, and attempted to shoot it several times at the ground, but the gun jammed. Bell tried to pull Jones away, knowing Jones was not armed. Appellant fired a round in the air, and then fired the gun at Jones, striking him in the chest. Appellant's stepfather testified that appellant knocked on his door that night, and told him that he shot someone.

         {¶5} Appellant turned himself in to Detective Mike Talkington. He told Talkington that he did not shoot Jones, and that he could not tell him who did shoot Jones because of a street code.

         {¶6} Appellant testified at trial that he attended the party, and learned that Jones was angry because appellant had had sex with Bell. Appellant ran into Bell and Jones in the alley by the drive-thru, and Jones pointed a gun at appellant. Appellant fled the scene, and ran into his cousin. His cousin showed him a gun, and offered to accompany appellant back to the scene. When they proceeded back to the scene, appellant noticed that Logan Cundiff was also there. Jones told appellant that he wanted to fight him, but appellant walked away. As he was walking, he heard a gunshot, and turned to see Jones on the ground and his cousin walking over to him. Appellant then fled the scene.

         {¶7} The jury found appellant not guilty of felonious assault and discharging a firearm on or near prohibited premises. However, the court convicted him of having a weapon under disability:

THE COURT: Mr. Johnson, it is not uncommon that when verdicts of this nature are decided that they are inconsistent.
This is gonna be an inconsistent verdict.
It's gonna be the order of the Court that the Court finds you ...

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