Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Ashtabula
Appeal from the Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas, Case
No. 2016 CR 00231.
Nicholas A. Iarocci, Ashtabula County Prosecutor, and Shelley
M. Pratt, Assistant Prosecutor, (For Plaintiff-Appellee).
Michelle M. French, Law Offices of Michelle M. French, LLC,
CYNTHIA WESTCOTT RICE, P.J.
Appellant, Russell Dwayne Litton, a.k.a. Litton, Russel
Dwayne, appeals his conviction, following his guilty plea, of
illegal manufacture of methamphetamine ("meth"). At
issue is whether the trial court erred in accepting
appellant's guilty plea. For the reasons that follow, we
On June 8, 2016, appellant was charged in a four-count
indictment with illegal manufacture of meth, a felony-two;
illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the
manufacture of meth, a felony-three; aggravated possession of
meth, a felony-five; and possessing criminal tools, a
felony-five. Appellant pled not guilty.
On December 6, 2016, appellant, then 51 years old, entered a
"Written Plea of Guilty and Plea Agreement" with
the state pursuant to which he agreed to plead guilty to
illegal manufacture of meth and the state agreed to nolle the
During the plea hearing, appellant told the court he was
satisfied with his attorney. He acknowledged his attorney had
informed him of the charges against him, the potential
sentence, and his constitutional rights. The court advised
appellant that by pleading guilty, he would be waiving his
right to a jury trial, his right to confront the state's
witnesses, his right to subpoena witnesses, his privilege
against self-incrimination, and his right to have the state
prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Appellant said that he waived these rights; that he was
"voluntarily pleading guilty of [his] own free
will;" and that he understood that by pleading guilty he
was admitting he committed the offense of illegal manufacture
of meth. Appellant acknowledged that no threats or promises
had been made to induce him to plead guilty.
The court explained to appellant the nature of the charges,
his potential exposure for illegal manufacturing of meth, and
the terms of the plea bargain.
Appellant acknowledged that, pursuant to the plea bargain, in
exchange for his guilty plea to illegal manufacturing of
meth, the state would dismiss the remaining charges and
recommend that the court sentence him to three years in
prison, which was the minimum sentence, to run concurrently
to his sentence in an unrelated case for which the court had
recently sentenced him to a prison term. The court advised
appellant that he had negotiated a jointly recommended
sentence and that the court would impose that sentence.
The court asked appellant what happened that caused him to
get into trouble. Appellant said he invited two friends to
his apartment for dinner, his co-defendant, Michael Lockwood,
and a female. After dinner, appellant told them to "go
ahead and hang out." He then went to his sister's
house to visit.
Appellant said that when he returned home, "I smelled
it, the chemicals." He told Lockwood he was leaving and
would be back in awhile. Appellant said he went for a walk
and smoked a cigarette. He then returned and went in the
front door. He said he walked out the back door and saw an
officer trying to break in his bedroom door. Appellant said
another officer came in the apartment through the front door
and arrested him.
The prosecutor then outlined the state's evidence. He
said that Deputy Matthew Johns of the Ashtabula County
Sheriff's Department was on foot patrol when he saw an
older, shaggy-haired male, later identified as appellant,
"walk in the shadows" near a closed business.
Appellant walked past the fence and gates that surrounded the
business and walked around inside the fenced area for some
time. The deputy said the area was dark and the business was
clearly closed. He thus believed appellant was engaging in
criminal activity. As a result, the deputy called for backup.
Deputy Johns continued to watch appellant from a distance. He
eventually saw appellant exit the fenced area and walk over
to a nearby ...