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State v. Young

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Sixth District, Erie

June 23, 2017

State of Ohio Appellee
v.
Randal Young Appellant

         Trial Court No. 2015-CR-013

          Kevin J. Baxter, Erie County Prosecuting Attorney, and Jonathan M. McGookey, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.

          Mollie B. Hojnicki-Mathieson, for appellant.

          DECISION AND JUDGMENT

          OSOWIK, J.

         {¶ 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 part.

         {¶ 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 CONSTITUTION
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, Randal Young.

         {¶ 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 ...


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