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State v. Martin

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Lorain

May 15, 2017

STATE OF OHIO Appellee
v.
MARKUS MARTIN Appellant

         APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF LORAIN, OHIO CASE No. 14CR089904

          APPEARANCES: DAVID L. DOUGHTEN, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          DENNIS P. WILL, Prosecuting Attorney, and ELIZABETH LINDBERG, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          JULIE A. SCHAFER Presiding Judge.

         {¶1} Defendant-Appellant, Markus Martin appeals his convictions in the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         I.

         {¶2} This matter arises from the shooting death of Davion Strupe. A group of about fifteen people believed that Mr. Strupe had broken into the home of Martin's brother. When the group located Mr. Strupe in a residence, a number of them pulled him out of the house and began to beat him. The group included Martin and Tristen Belfiore. As Mr. Strupe was escaping from the group, Belfiore shot him. The shooting resulted in Mr. Strupe's death. Multiple witnesses stated they heard Martin giving orders during the beating and that he yelled to Belfiore to shoot Mr. Strupe as he was escaping from the group.

         {¶3} The Lorain County Grand Jury subsequently indicted Martin on the following eleven counts: (I) aggravated murder in violation of R.C. 2903.01(B), a special felony, with two gun specifications; (II) murder in violation of R.C. 2903.02(A), a special felony, with two gun specifications; (III) murder in violation of R.C. 2903.02(B), a special felony, with two gun specifications; (IV) kidnapping in violation of R.C. 2905.01(A)(3), a felony of the first degree; (V) kidnapping in violation of R.C. 2905.01(B)(1), a felony of the first degree; (VI) aggravated burglary in violation of R.C. 2911.11(A)(1), a felony of the first degree; (VII) felonious assault in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(1), a felony of the second degree; (VIII) felonious assault, in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(2), a felony of the second degree, with two gun specifications; (IX) felonious assault in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(2), a felony of the second degree; (X) burglary in violation of R.C. 2911.12(A)(1), a felony of the second degree; (XI) aggravated riot in violation of R.C. 2917.02(A)(2), a felony of the fourth degree.

         {¶4} Martin pleaded not guilty and the matter proceeded through the pretrial process. Following a jury trial, the State dismissed the one-year firearm specification on counts one, two, three, and eight. Subsequently, a jury found Martin not guilty of aggravated murder, but guilty of the remaining counts in the indictment. However, the jury found Martin not guilty of the attendant three-year firearm specifications on counts one, two, three, and eight. Additionally, the jury made the special findings with regard to the charge of murder in count three that Martin committed the murder of Mr. Strupe as a proximate result of committing or attempting to commit (1) kidnapping as defined in counts four and five; (2) aggravated burglary as defined in count six; and (3) burglary as defined in count ten. The trial court sentenced Martin according to law.

         {¶5} Martin filed this timely appeal, raising two assignments of error for our review.

         II.

         Assignment of Error I

         Defense counsel's failure to object, move to strike, or request a limiting instruction in response to a witness's unsolicited statement that the appellant had been in prison and the failure to request a Daubert hearing on the accuracy of the extraction procedure for text messaging deprived the defendant of his right to effective assistance of counsel.

         {¶6} In his first assignment of error, Martin contends he received ineffective assistance of counsel when his trial counsel: (1) elicited testimony during cross-examination concerning the relationship between Belfiore and Martin; (2) failed to object, move to strike, or request a limiting instruction in response to a witness's statement; and (3) failed to request a Daubert hearing. We disagree.

         {¶7} In order to prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, Martin "must establish (1) that his counsel's performance was deficient to the extent that 'counsel was not functioning as the "counsel" guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment' and (2) that but for his counsel's deficient performance the result of the trial would have been different." State v. Velez, 9th Dist. Lorain No. 13CA010518, 2015-Ohio-642, ¶ 18, quoting Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984). This court need not address both prongs of the Strickland test if it should find that Martin failed to prove either prong. State v. Ray, 9th Dist. Summit No. 22459, 2005-Ohio-4941, ¶ 10. A trial counsel's performance will not be deemed ineffective unless it falls below an objective standard of reasonable representation. State v. Bradley, 42 Ohio St.3d 136, 143 (1989), paragraph two of the syllabus. Further, there exists a strong presumption of the adequacy of counsel's performance and that counsel's actions were sound trial tactics. State v. Hoehn, 9th Dist. Medina No. 03CA0076-M, 2004-Ohio-1419, ¶ 45. Moreover, "debatable trial tactics do not give rise to a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel." Id. citing State v. Clayton, 62 Ohio St.2d 45, 49 (1980).

         {¶8} First, Martin contends that his trial counsel was ineffective when he elicited testimony from the detective regarding the relationship between Belfiore and Martin because

          "[t]here is no strategic reasoning within the professional norm for defense counsel to attempt to elicit how close Belfiore and Martin were at the time of the shooting." The specific exchange that Martin points to occurred when his trial counsel cross-examined a detective ...


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