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State v. Price

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Summit

June 7, 2017

STATE OF OHIO Appellee
v.
MARCUS D. PRICE Appellant

         APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. CR 2015 07 1991 B

          APPEARANCES: NEIL P. AGARWAL, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          SHERRI BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and RICHARD S. KASAY, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          LYNNE S. CALLAHAN JUDGE.

         {¶1} Appellant, Marcus Price, appeals his conviction for tampering with evidence by the Summit County Court of Common Pleas. This Court affirms.

         I.

         {¶2} On February 15, 2015, Mr. Price walked into an alley with two friends, David Quarterman and A.H. One of the two men shot A.H. in the back of the head, then fired a second shot into his temple after he fell to the ground in the snow. Mr. Price and Mr. Quarterman left the alley together and walked to a nearby house, where Mr. Price washed his hands with bleach and changed clothes. They left the neighborhood together when a third person provided a ride.

         {¶3} Police identified both men as suspects, and both were charged with aggravated murder, murder, and tampering with evidence. Each provided a statement to the police that identified the other as the gunman. Mr. Quarterman pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and, as part of his plea agreement, agreed to testify at Mr. Price's trial. A jury found Mr. Price not guilty of aggravated murder and murder, but guilty of tampering with evidence in violation of R.C. 2921.12(A)(1). The trial court sentenced Mr. Price to three years in prison, and Mr. Price filed this appeal.

         II.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 1

         THE TRIAL COURT VIOLATED [MR. PRICE'S] U.S. CONSTITUTION'S SIXTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS WHEN IT DENIED HIM THE ABILITY TO EFFECTIVELY CROSS-EXAMINE A WITNESS REGARDING HIS BIAS AND MOTIVATION FOR TESTIFYING.

         {¶4} In his first assignment of error, Mr. Price argues that the trial court erred by refusing to allow him to cross-examine Mr. Quarterman about the sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole that he avoided by pleading guilty. This Court disagrees.

         {¶5} Criminal defendants enjoy the right to cross-examine witnesses as provided by Evid.R. 611(B), but the scope of cross-examination is a matter within the discretion of the trial court. See State v. Green, 66 Ohio St.3d 141, 147 (1993). This Court reviews a trial court's decision to limit the scope of cross-examination for an abuse of discretion. State v. Treesh, 90 Ohio St.3d 460, 480 (2001). An abuse of discretion is more than an error of judgment; it means that the trial court was unreasonable, arbitrary, or unconscionable in its ruling. Blakemore v. Blakemore, 5 Ohio St.3d 217, 219 (1983).

         {¶6} Evidence of a plea agreement between a witness and the State of Ohio is admissible under Evid.R. 616(A) to demonstrate bias. State v. Drummond,111 Ohio St.3d 14, 2006-Ohio-5084, ¶104, citing State v. Brooks,75 Ohio St.3d 148, 152 (1996). The fact that a witness pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for a reduced penalty suffices to demonstrate potential bias, however, and "[a] comparison of the potential penalties under the plea agreement versus the original charges does not add to this demonstration." State v.Gresham, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 81250, 2003-Ohio-744, ΒΆ 9. Indeed, when a defendant faces the same charges as the witness faced, "to inform the jury of the specific penalties available against the witnesses before and ...


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