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State v. Litton

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Ashtabula

August 21, 2017

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RUSSELL DWAYNE LITTON, a.k.a. LITTON, RUSSEL DWAYNE Defendant-Appellant.

         Criminal 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, (For Defendant-Appellant).

          OPINION

          CYNTHIA WESTCOTT RICE, P.J.

         {¶1} 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 affirm.

         {¶2} 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.

         {¶3} 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 remaining counts.

         {¶4} 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.

         {¶5} 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.

         {¶6} 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.

         {¶7} 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.

         {¶8} 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.

         {¶9} 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.

         {¶10} 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 ...


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