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.
BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and RICHARD S. KASAY,
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
S. CALLAHAN JUDGE.
Appellant, Marcus Price, appeals his conviction for tampering
with evidence by the Summit County Court of Common Pleas.
This Court affirms.
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.
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.
OF ERROR NO. 1
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.
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.
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).
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, ¶ 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 ...