from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas C.P.C. No.
O'Brien, Prosecuting Attorney, and Seth L. Gilbert, for
Timothy Young, Ohio Public Defender, Charlyn E. Bohland, and
Katherine R. Ross-Kinzie, for appellant.
Charlyn E. Bohland.
1} Defendant-appellant, Devonere Simmonds, appeals a
March 30, 2016 decision of the Franklin County Court of
Common Pleas, dismissing his petition for postconviction
relief without a hearing. Because we agree that Simmonds
failed to demonstrate "substantive grounds for relief,
" we affirm the trial court's decision to dismiss
the petition without a hearing.
INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
2} On July 21, 2013, Simmonds shot both James Norvet
and Quinten Prater in the head. Prater, who was shot with a
shotgun, did not survive. Three days later, on July 24,
Simmonds fatally shot a third person, Imran Ashgar, a
convenience store clerk during a robbery. He shot him in the
eye; departed briefly; then returned and shot him a second
time in the head as he lay wounded on the floor. Three days
after that, during
Simmonds' attempt to flee Ohio, Simmonds approached
William Rudd at a gas station, shot him in the face, and
stole his truck. Rudd managed to survive. Simmonds was 17
years old when he committed these offenses.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
3} On July 25, August 28, and August 29, 2013
respectively, Simmonds was charged as a juvenile for the
shootings of Ashgar, Prater, and Rudd. (July 25, 2013 Compl.
13JU-10445; Aug. 28, 2013 Compl. 13JU-11920; Aug. 29, 2013
Compl. 13JU-11966.) In a hearing held on January 13 2014, the
prosecution noted that during the events underlying common
pleas case No. 13JU-11920 Simmonds also shot another person
(Norvet). (Jan. 13, 2014 Hearing Tr. at 9-10, filed on Jan.
5, 2015.) The juvenile court issued decisions on January 13,
and 14, 2014 binding over Simmonds for trial as an adult in
each of the three cases. (Jan. 13, 2014 Bindover Decision
13JU-10445; Jan. 14, 2014 Bindover Decision 13JU-11920; Jan.
14, 2014 Bindover Decision 13JU-11966.)
4} On January 16, 2014, having been bound over to
stand trial as an adult, a Franklin County Grand Jury
indicted Simmonds for two counts each of aggravated murder
and murder (Ashgar and Prater), five counts of aggravated
robbery (Prater, Norvet, Ashgar, and Rudd), two counts each of
attempted murder and felonious assault (Norvet and Rudd), and
one count of having a weapon while under a disability. (Jan.
16, 2014 Indictment.) Each offense (except the weapon
offense) included a gun specification under R.C. 2941.145.
5} Simmonds was tried by a jury on the counts
relating to Ashgar, Rudd, and one count (for which he was
eventually acquitted) related to another party; the remaining
counts relating to Prater and Norvet were severed for later
trial, and the weapon under disability count was tried to the
bench. (Dec. 5, 2014 Jury Verdict Count 4; July , 2014
Hearing Tr. at 16-17; Dec. 8, 2014 Hearing Tr. at
797-98.) A previous decision of this Court
summarized the facts adduced at trial:
Simmonds basically executed the store clerk by shooting him
in the eye once and then returning to shoot the clerk in the
head a second time after the clerk briefly survived the first
shot. A few days later, while fleeing central Ohio, Simmonds
found himself in need of a motor vehicle. He shot the owner
of a vehicle in the head while stealing the car. The owner
miraculously survived the shooting and was able to testify at
State v. Simmonds, 10th Dist. No. 14AP-1065,
2015-Ohio-4460, ¶ 2. Our previous decision noted that
the weight of evidence against Simmonds was
"massive" and included, among other things, a
surveillance tape showing Simmonds executing the clerk,
Ashgar. Id. at ¶ 7. Following trial, on
December 5, 2014, the jury returned a verdict of
"guilty" on all counts related to Ashgar and Rudd.
(Dec. 5, 2014 Verdicts Counts 1-3, 5-7.)
6} On Friday, December 5, 2014, after the jury
delivered its verdicts, the trial court denied a request for
a presentence investigation as to Simmonds and asked counsel
if they would be amenable to convening for sentencing the
following Monday, December 8, 2014. (Dec. 5, 2014 Tr. Vol. 5
at 788-89.) Counsel indicated that date would be agreeable.
Id. Other than the request for a presentence