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State v. Shropshire

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

October 26, 2017


         Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-16-602693-C

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT James R. Willis James R. Willis Attorney at Law

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor BY: Daniel A. Cleary Brian D. Kraft Assistant County Prosecutors

          BEFORE: Jones, J., Blackmon, P.J., and Laster Mays, J.



         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Ky'Tric Shropshire ("Shropshire"), along with codefendants Jamall Lewis ("Lewis") and Ramel Lee ("Lee"), was charged in January 2016 with several counts and specifications relating to the April 2013 death of Regina Neal ("Neal") and shooting of Charles Elder ("Elder").

         {¶2} With the exception of the gang specifications and a charge of having weapons while under disability, Shropshire's case proceeded to a joint jury trial with Lewis's case.[1]The jury found Shropshire guilty of aggravated murder, murder, attempted murder, and felonious assault, along with the relevant accompanying specifications; he was acquitted of one charge - discharge of a firearm on or near prohibited premises. The trial court found him guilty of the gang specifications and having weapons while under disability. The court sentenced Shropshire to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 25 years. The following facts were elicited at trial.


         {¶3} The shooting and death that occurred in this case were the result of gang violence. The rival gangs at issue were the ATM Jack Boys and the J-Park gang. Elder, one of the victims, testified that a number of his friends are members of the ATM Jack Boys; he denied that he himself was involved in any gang.

         {¶4} On the evening in question, Elder and the other victim, Neal, who was Elder's close friend, went for a walk; they were in an area considered to be ATM Jack Boys territory. Elder testified that both he and Neal were unarmed. As the two walked, Elder felt an impact that caused him to fall over, and then he heard a succession of rapid-fire shots. He had been shot in his calf.

         {¶5} When the shooting stopped, Elder looked back and saw a male figure wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, with the hood drawn tight around his face so that only his nose and mouth were visible; he admitted that it was "kind of dark."

         {¶6} Elder began crawling toward Neal's house, screaming for help. Two of his friends from the ATM Jack Boys, "Diaz" and Jermaine Cottrell, a.k.a. "Mane, " came to his aid. Elder then saw the man with the red hooded sweatshirt drive by in a small white car. His friends called 911, and he was transported by ambulance to the hospital. Because of the gunshot injury, Elder was unable to walk for six months and has sustained permanent nerve damage in his leg.

         {¶7} Elder described his assailant to the police as short and stocky, with a "big nose and big lips." He did not immediately provide the police with a suspect name, but when he did, he told them that he "felt like [he] did recognize" his shooter, and believed it may have been Jamall Lewis, Shropshire's codefendant. Lewis was a known member of the J-Park gang and had had a recent altercation with Elder's brother.

         {¶8} Approximately one month after the shooting, Elder applied for victim's compensation from the state. He indicated to the employee assisting him that he was not able to positively identify his assailant. The employee insisted that he put down a name on the form, so he listed Lewis. Prior to trial, Elder identified Lewis from a photo array; he identified him again at trial.

         {¶9} As part of its investigation into the case, the Cleveland police learned the name of the owner of the white vehicle that Elder saw immediately after the shooting, but excluded the owner from involvement in the shooting. Also during their investigation, the police recovered 16 fired bullet shell casings from the area of the shooting, including shells from .40 caliber, .45 caliber, and 9mm weapons. They linked the .40 shell casings to a Taurus pistol that was seized during an arrest in Bedford Heights. The caliber of the pellet recovered from Neal's body could not be determined, however.

         {¶10} The case went "cold, " until March 2015, when a juvenile, S.L., who was under detention, came forward to cooperate with law enforcement officials.[2] The police interviewed S.L. twice before taking a proffer statement from him on March 6, 2015. The police did not know that he was going to give information about the shooting in this case, and S.L. voluntarily brought it up. The state had not made S.L. any plea offer prior to his proffer. S.L. testified at trial, the substance of which was the same as his proffer, and was as follows.

         {¶11} S.L. was a member of the J-Park gang. Earlier in the day of the shooting, while out walking, he had been the target of a drive-by shooting by whom he believed to be ATM Jack Boys gang member "Mane." So he met with other J-Park gang members Lewis, Shropshire, and Lee at Shropshire's house to plan revenge, which meant either fighting or shooting those they believed were responsible. They borrowed a silver SUV belonging to one of Shropshire's friends and headed to ATM Jack Boys territory; Lee was the driver. Lewis had a .40 caliber weapon and Shropshire had a .45 caliber weapon; S.L. and Lee were not armed. S.L. stated that Lee was wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, Lewis was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, and Shropshire was wearing a blue jacket.

         {¶12} When the group arrived in ATM Jack Boys territory, they circled the area, looking for ATM Jack Boys gang members. They saw a small group of people standing outside and drove to and parked on the next street over so they could plan what they were going to do. They decided that Shropshire and Lewis would go to the small group they had just seen and do the shooting, and S.L. and Lee would remain in the car. Shropshire and Lewis then left the vehicle with their weapons; Shropshire had a .45 caliber weapon, and Lewis had a .40 caliber weapon.

         {¶13} S.L. testified that moments after Shropshire and Lewis left the vehicle, he heard a succession of gunfire, approximating 20 shots in all, and then Shropshire and Lewis reappeared at the vehicle, with their weapons in hand. They quickly got inside the vehicle, and Lee sped away. He drove the group to Shropshire's house, where everyone quickly dispersed and went their separate ways. According to S.L., they did not talk about what had happened. S.L. testified that he learned a few days later through social media that Neal and Elder had been shot. He claimed that he did not know either one of them. S.L. further testified that Shropshire and Lewis got rid of the weapons, and that he (S.L.) later obtained the .45 firearm, which was "going around the neighborhood."

         {¶14} As mentioned, at the time S.L. made his proffer, he was facing a mandatory bindover to adult court for an aggravated robbery charge with firearm and gang activity specifications. After his proffer, however, he entered into a plea agreement with the state and his case was not bound over to adult court. As part of the plea, he was placed at a boarding school for ten months. At the time of trial, he was still under probation and his testimony was part of his plea agreement.

         {¶15} Colin Ginley ("Detective Ginley"), a detective with the Cleveland Police Department's Gang Impact Unit also testified at trial. Detective Ginley was the law enforcement official who interviewed S.L. twice before his proffer, and then took the proffer. The detective testified that the police do not make any guarantees to informants who come forth with information about a crime. Rather, they relay the information to the investigating detectives so that they can try to corroborate the information. If law enforcement is able to corroborate the information given by the informant, the state will consider that help when prosecuting the informant, and the information the informant provided cannot be used against him or her.

         {¶16} Detective Ginley also testified as to the substance of S.L.'s proffer, including describing the earlier shooting and the planned revenge shooting in this case. He testified that police reports confirmed that there had been a shooting in the area around the time S.L. said. He further testified that S.L. told him that Shropshire and Lewis killed Regina Neal.

         {¶17} At the conclusion of the state's case, Shropshire made a Crim.R. 29 motion for judgment of acquittal, which the trial court denied. As mentioned, the jury acquitted him of the discharge of firearm on or near prohibited premises charge, but convicted him on the remaining charges and specifications; the court also convicted him on the specifications tried to it, as well as the having weapons while under disability charge. The trial court sentenced him to life imprisonment, with parole eligibility after 25 years.

         Assignments ...

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