FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF
SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. CR 2015 10 3270
APPEARANCES: NATALIE M. NIESE, Attorney at Law, for
BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and RICHARD S. KASAY,
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
S. CALLAHAN JUDGE.
Defendant-Appellant, Deandre Baskerville, appeals from his
convictions in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas. This
On an evening in August 2015, Mr. Baskerville went to the
mall with his cousin. While there, he saw an acquaintance,
the victim in this matter, and approached him. According to
Mr. Baskerville, the victim owed him money and he wanted to
speak with the victim regarding their business arrangement.
There is no dispute that, while the two spoke, an argument
developed, and the victim became increasingly upset.
Eventually, the two walked out of the mall together as they
continued to argue. The argument ended when Mr. Baskerville
removed a knife from his pocket and stabbed the victim once
in the side of the neck. The victim then stumbled back into
the mall where he died shortly thereafter. According to Mr.
Baskerville, he stabbed the victim in self-defense. He
admitted, however, that he ran from the scene, disposed of
his knife, sanitized his car, burned the clothes he was
wearing, and left Ohio. The police apprehended Mr.
Baskerville in West Virginia the following month.
A grand jury indicted Mr. Baskerville on two counts of murder
and one count of aggravated murder, felonious assault, and
carrying a concealed weapon. The matter proceeded to a jury
trial, at the conclusion of which the jury found Mr.
Baskerville not guilty of aggravated murder, but guilty of
his remaining charges. The trial court sentenced him to
fifteen years to life in prison.
Mr. Baskerville now appeals from his convictions and raises
eight assignments of error for our review. For ease of
analysis, we rearrange and consolidate several of the
assignments of error.
OF ERROR NO. 1
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ALLOWING INTRODUCTION OF EVIDENCE OF
OTHER CRIMES, WRONGS OR ACTS TO SHOW MR. BASKERVILLE'S
CHARACTER IN VIOLATION OF THE RULES OF EVIDENCE DENYING MR.
BASKERVILLE DUE PROCESS AND EQUAL PROTECTION OF LAW UNDER
BOTH THE [U.S.] CONSTITUTION AND THE OHIO CONSTITUTION.
In his first assignment of error, Mr. Baskerville argues that
the trial court abused its discretion when it allowed the
State to introduce evidence about his prior convictions. He
argues that the evidence was irrelevant, prejudicial, and
violated Evid.R. 404(B). Upon review, Mr. Baskerville has not
shown that the trial court abused its discretion.
Under Evid.R. 404(B), other acts evidence "is not
admissible to prove that the defendant acted in conformity
with the character demonstrated by the other acts, but other
acts evidence may be admissible for different purposes."
State v. Guerra, 9th Dist. Lorain No. 12CA010188,
2013-Ohio-5367, ¶ 17. The Rule "contains a
non-exhaustive list of exceptions under which other acts
evidence may be admitted for a purpose other than to show
propensity." State v. Calise, 9th Dist. Summit
No. 26027, 2012-Ohio-4797, ¶ 41. It specifies, for
example, that other acts evidence may be admitted for
purposes "such as proof of motive, opportunity, intent,
preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake
or accident." Evid.R. 404(B).
The admission of other acts evidence is a three-step process:
The first step is to consider whether the other acts evidence
is relevant to making any fact that is of consequence to the
determination of the action more or less probable than it
would be without the evidence. Evid.R. 401. The next step is
to consider whether evidence of the other crimes, wrongs, or
acts is presented to prove the character of the accused in
order to show activity in conformity therewith or whether the
other acts evidence is presented for a legitimate purpose,
such as those stated in Evid.R. 404(B). The third step is to
consider whether the probative value of the other acts
evidence is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair
State v. Williams, 134 Ohio St.3d 521,
2012-Ohio-5695, ¶ 20. "Trial court decisions
regarding the admissibility of other-acts evidence under
Evid.R. 404(B) are evidentiary determinations that rest
within the sound discretion of the trial court. Appeals of
such decisions are considered by an appellate court under an
abuse-of-discretion standard of review." State v.
Morris, 132 Ohio St.3d 337, 2012-Ohio-2407, syllabus.
Mr. Baskerville acknowledges that the State did not introduce
evidence about his prior convictions in its case-in-chief.
Rather, he disclosed his prior convictions when he took the
stand in his own defense. The State then inquired about the
details of his prior convictions when cross-examining him.
Mr. Baskerville argues that there was no reason for the State
to "rehash and repeat" his convictions because he
had already disclosed them. He also asserts that the
circumstances underlying his convictions were irrelevant to
his charges and that their introduction only served to
portray him as a violent person.
Mr. Baskerville's argument essentially consists of two
prongs. Under the first prong, the issue is whether the State
could ask Mr. Baskerville about his prior convictions on
cross-examination. Under the second prong, the issue is
whether the State could ask Mr. Baskerville about the facts
underlying his prior convictions. Because Mr. Baskerville
testified about his prior convictions during direct
examination, he "open[ed] the door for the [S]tate to
question him about them on cross-examination." State
v. Williams, 38 Ohio St.3d 346, 350 (1988). Thus, the
State was free to inquire about his prior convictions. Mr.
Baskerville's testimony on direct examination, however,
did not address the details of his prior convictions. As
such, Evid.R. 404(B) still applied when the State went beyond
the fact of his convictions and sought to question him about
their underlying circumstances. See id.
On direct examination, Mr. Baskerville conceded that he had a
prior record consisting of a "[m]ajority of drug
charges, well, marijuana charges, * * * and * * * a gun
charge of basically a weapons under disability * * *."
He stated that he had six or seven felonies and had
"been to the penitentiary twice." It was his
testimony that he had "copped out" to all of his
prior felonies because he was guilty of them. Accordingly, he
offered testimony that, when he was actually guilty of a
crime, he conceded his wrongdoing and accepted his
On cross-examination, the State asked Mr. Baskerville whether
his prior weapons charge prohibited him from carrying a gun,
and he agreed that was the case. Over objection, the State
then asked him why he had been carrying a gun, and Mr.
Actually to protect myself. I was faced with a situation
where I got into it with a group [of] men at a bar. I
didn't know these guys from Adam and Eve, and word around
town they were going to do something to me, and these are the
type of guys that like to use guns, and, I mean, they was
just for my protection. I had got stopped with the gun,
actually. I was going through a sobriety checkpoint and got
check with the guns and money and weed.
his answer, the State asked Mr. Baskerville whether he had
started carrying a knife after being caught with a gun. Mr.
Baskerville responded that he did not carry a knife on a
daily basis, but did carry one, at times, for protection. He
agreed that the "street business" he conducted was
dangerous and, at times, necessitated that he carry one. The
State then turned to the sanctions Mr. Baskerville had
received for his prior crimes.
The State asked Mr. Baskerville whether all his prior
convictions had been low-level felonies, and he agreed that
was true. The following exchange then took place:
[PROSECUTOR:] And they all probably got probation?
[MR. BASKERVILLE:] I had to go to prison.
[MR. BASKERVILLE:] I mean, for a couple of them, yes.
[PROSECUTOR:] Well, let's ask. Originally when you
started getting your convictions you got probation, right?
[MR. BASKERVILLE:] For one, yeah, the first time I got
probation, but after ...