Court No. 2015-CR-013
J. Baxter, Erie County Prosecuting Attorney, and Jonathan M.
McGookey, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.
B. Hojnicki-Mathieson, for appellant.
DECISION AND JUDGMENT
1} This is an appeal from a December 15, 2015
judgment of the Erie County Court of Common Pleas, which,
following jury trial, convicted appellant, Randal Young, of
one count of aggravated robbery, in violation of R.C.
2911.01, a felony of the first degree, one count of theft in
violation of R.C. 2913.02, a felony of the fifth degree, one
count of safecracking, in violation of R.C. 2911.31, a felony
of the fourth degree, one count of felonious assault, in
violation of R.C. 2903.11, a felony of the third degree, one
count of weapons under disability, in violation of R.C.
2923.13, a felony of the second degree, one count of
safecracking, in violation of R.C. 2911.31, a felony of the
fourth degree, one count of vandalism, in violation of R.C.
2909.05, a felony of the fifth degree, one count of theft in
violation of R.C. 2923.02, a misdemeanor of the first degree,
and one count of possession of criminal tools, in violation
of R.C. 2923.24, a felony of the fifth degree. In addition,
appellant was found to be a repeat violent offender.
Appellant was sentenced to a total term of incarceration of
36 years. For the reasons set forth below, this court affirms
the judgment of the trial court, in part, and reverses it, in
2} Appellant sets forth the following two
assignments of error:
1. APPELLANT RECEIVED CONSTITUTIONALLY INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE
OF COUNSEL AND WAS DEPRIVED OF A FAIR TRIAL AND DUE PROCESS
OF LAW AS GUARANTEED BY THE 14TH AMENDMENT TO THE
U.S. CONSTITUTION AND SECTION 16, ARTICLE 1 OF THE OHIO
2. THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED PREJUDICIAL ERROR IN PERMITTING
THE JURY TO DETERMINE THE EXISTENCE AND NATURE OF
APPELLANT'S PRIOR CONVICTION FOR AN OFFENSE OF VIOLENCE,
IN VIOLATION OF R.C. 2941.149
3} The following undisputed facts are relevant to
this appeal. On December 29, 2014, appellant relocated from
Memphis, Tennessee to Sandusky, Ohio. Appellant moved into
the Sandusky apartment of co-defendant, Thaddious Jefferson,
and his girlfriend. The record shows that appellant possessed
multiple convictions for aggravated robbery and was well
known by law enforcement agencies in Tennessee.
4} At approximately midnight on December 31, 2014,
Joshua McDowell and Tom Ewald, two Shell gas station
employees, were transferring cash from the register into the
store safe. While McDowell had his back turned towards the
register, a masked man entered the station, pointed a gun at
McDowell, and ordered him to lie on the floor.
5} The gunman ordered Ewald to give him all of the
money and threatened to shoot if the police showed up. The
cash stolen in the robbery included a substantial quantity of
change. The New Year's Eve robber wished the victims a
happy new year and left the station with approximately
$993.09 in cash and change. Immediately after the robber
left, the victims called 9-1-1. McDowell conveyed to the
9-1-1 operator that the suspect would be carrying a Shell
station bag full of change.
6} Shortly thereafter, the responding officers
arrived on scene and began reviewing the Shell station's
security camera video footage. Around the same time,
appellant's co-defendant was observed walking in the
vicinity of the gas station and was stopped by officers.
Although later found to have been involved in the crime, the
co-defendant was ruled out as being the masked gunman based
upon review of the video footage. Because a substantial
amount of change was stolen in the robbery, the detective in
charge of the investigation examined the available video from
the local Kroger Coinstar machine. Although the Coinstar
machine had no internal camera, a store camera was positioned
in the vicinity of the machine.
7} That footage showed a man who the detective
determined to be a match of the masked gunman from the Shell
robbery. In the Kroger footage, the man is wearing the exact
same clothing as the Shell station robber. The video also
shows the man filling out a Western Union money order form
which was used to send money to a woman in Tennessee,
appellant's home state. The form included the
sender's address, phone number, and appellant's name,
8} Upon discovery of appellant's name and
address, the detective called the Memphis Police Department.
The detective forwarded the Memphis Police Department the
name and photos from the Shell station and Kroger video
footage in an email. Memphis Police were familiar with
appellant given his criminal history in their jurisdiction.
One officer had previously interviewed appellant, and was
able to positively identify appellant from the video ...