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State v. Bradford

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

November 9, 2017

STATE OF OHIO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
BRADLEY L. BRADFORD DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

         Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-15-600941-A

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Britta M. Barthol

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor BY: Ryan J. Bokoch Assistant County Prosecutor

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

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          LARRY A. JONES, SR., J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant, Bradley Bradford ("Bradford"), appeals his convictions for participating in a criminal gang, felonious assault, improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle, improperly discharging a firearm into a habitation, discharging a firearm on or near prohibited premises, and having weapons while under disability. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for a limited resentencing.

         Procedural History and Facts

         {¶2} This case arose out of a conflict between two Cleveland gangs, the Fleet Avenue and Broadway Avenue gangs, that came to a head in the spring and summer of 2015. In April 2015, two members of the Fleet gang were shot at a local bar. On May 4, 2015, a shooting against Broadway members injured Antowine Palmer and killed Pedro "Dro" Barnes ("Dro Barnes"). The May 4 shooting occurred outside of 5010 Finn Avenue. After those shootings, multiple retaliatory shootings occurred in May, June, and July 2015, including the June 20, 2015 shooting death of Fleet gang member Arthur "Archie" Davis.[1]

         {¶3} This appeal involves a drive-by shooting on Scovill Avenue on June 13 and a drive-by shooting at 5010 Finn Avenue on July 5; both incidents took place in the city of Cleveland. Bradford was not convicted of any charges with relation to the June 13 incident; therefore, the discussion that follows will focus mainly on the July 5 shooting.

         {¶4} Bradford was charged in a 50-count indictment along with his brothers, Maurice Bradford and Lawrence Black ("Black"); their mother, Edwina Neal ("Neal"); and alleged fellow gang member Andre Ingram. Neal and Ingram entered into plea agreements with the state and the three brothers elected to proceed to trial before the bench.

         {¶5} At the end of the state's case, the state dismissed Counts 31-34 and 36 as they related to Bradford. The court found Bradford guilty of participating in a criminal gang; felonious assault, with a criminal gang activity, one- and three-year firearm, and forfeiture specifications; improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle with one- and three-year firearm and forfeiture specifications; improperly discharging a firearm into a habitation with criminal gang activity, one- and three-year firearm, and forfeiture specifications; discharging a firearm on or near prohibited premises with one- and three-year firearm specifications; and having weapons while under disability. The court sentenced Bradford to a total of 14 years in prison.

         {¶6} Bradford filed a notice of appeal. Black and Maurice Bradford were also convicted of various crimes and have appealed their convictions; this court recently affirmed Black's convictions but reversed and remanded his case for a limited resentencing. See State v. Black, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 105197, 2017-Ohio-8063; see also State v. Bradford, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 105199.

         {¶7} Further facts will be discussed under the assignments of error.

         Assignments of Error

I. Appellant has been deprived of his liberty without due process of law by his convictions for participating in a criminal gang, improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle, improperly discharging into a habitation, a criminal gang specification and firearm specifications which were not supported by sufficient evidence to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
II. Appellant's convictions were against the manifest weight of the evidence.
III. The trial court erred in ordering consecutive sentences for the firearm specifications in Counts 40 and 41.

         Law and Analysis

         Sufficiency and Manifest Weight of the Evidence

         {¶8} In his first and second assignments of error, Bradford contends that the trial court erred in denying his Crim.R. 29 motion for acquittal and that his convictions for participating in a criminal gang, improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle, improperly discharging into a habitation, a criminal gang specification and firearm specifications lacked sufficient evidence and were against the manifest weight of the evidence. Although they involve different standards of review, because they involve interrelated issues, many of the same arguments and a review of the same evidence, we address Bradford's first and second assignments of error together.

         {¶9} A Crim.R. 29(A) motion for acquittal tests the sufficiency of the evidence. State v. Hill 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 98366, 2013-Ohio-578, ¶ 13. Accordingly, we review a trial court's denial of a defendant's motion for acquittal using the same standard we apply when reviewing a sufficiency-of-the-evidence challenge. Id.

         {¶10} A challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence supporting a conviction requires a determination of whether the state met its burden of production. State v. Hunter, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 86048, 2006-Ohio-20, ¶ 41. When reviewing sufficiency of the evidence, an appellate court must determine "'whether, after viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt."' State v. Leonard,104 Ohio St.3d 54, 2004-Ohio-6235, 818 N.E.2d 229, ¶ 77, quoting State v. Jenks, 61 Ohio St.3d 259, 574 N.E.2d 492 (1991), paragraph two of the syllabus. In a sufficiency inquiry, an appellate court does not assess whether the state's evidence is to be ...


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