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State v. Hammond

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

November 16, 2017

STATE OF OHIO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
RAMAL HAMMOND DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

         Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-14-586371-A

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Stephen L. Miles

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, Brent Kirvel Assistant Prosecuting Attorney

          BEFORE: S. Gallagher, J., McCormack, P.J., and Laster Mays, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          SEAN C. GALLAGHER, JUDGE

         {¶1} Appellant Ramal Hammond appeals his conviction for murder, two counts of felonious assault, and having a weapon while under disability, and the trial court's determination that he was competent to stand trial. Upon review, we affirm.

         {¶2} Appellant was indicted on multiple counts relating to the alleged murder of Jamal Rolling ("the victim"). Within 24 hours of the victim being shot, appellant was shot and suffered a traumatic brain injury that caused severe cognitive impairment, including amnesia for the time surrounding the events involved in this matter. Appellant was evaluated for competency, and a competency hearing was held by the trial court. On June 27, 2016, the trial court issued a journal entry with a detailed decision finding appellant competent to stand trial.

         {¶3} Appellant waived his right to a jury trial, and the case proceeded to a bench trial. Fifteen witnesses were called to testify by the state. Appellant chose not to testify.

         {¶4} The record reflects that the victim was shot and killed in the early morning hours of April 14, 2014, shortly after leaving his girlfriend's apartment with appellant, who had come to the window. Although there were no eyewitnesses to the shooting, several witnesses placed the victim with appellant prior to the shooting, there was evidence that appellant left the scene and returned without a jacket he had been wearing, and there was evidence that the victim repeated appellant's name to his girlfriend before losing consciousness.

         {¶5} The victim's girlfriend testified that after hearing the gunshot, she looked out the window and saw the victim trying to run toward her house, and that by the time she made it to him, he collapsed to the ground, and he kept saying "Ramal, Ramal." Two other witnesses testified to seeing appellant and the victim walking off by themselves several minutes before hearing the shooting. The men had approached them and asked for a shell for smoking marijuana. Fifteen to twenty minutes after appellant and the victim walked away together, a gunshot was heard followed shortly after by a scream. The victim was observed on the ground mumbling to his girlfriend with blood coming out of his mouth.

         {¶6} Testimony and evidence of the crime scene reflected that the victim had traveled several hundred feet before collapsing. The medical examiner confirmed that this would have been possible and that it would have been possible for the victim to verbalize before losing consciousness, though he would expect the individual to lose consciousness immediately or within a few seconds of collapsing.

         {¶7} DNA from a firearm found at the scene matched the victim. The firearm was fully loaded with one round in the chamber, the safety off, and the hammer cocked back and prepared for shooting. A spent casing was also found that was determined not to have been fired from the same firearm.

         {¶8} A former girlfriend of appellant testified that she picked up appellant from his mother's home a short time after the shooting of the victim. She testified that appellant denied anything to do with what happened to the victim. Appellant's mother offered testimony that appellant told her he and the victim were going to get a shell in which to roll marijuana and that when appellant left the victim to go in search for better marijuana, he heard gunshots. Detective Kathleen Carlin, an investigating officer, testified that she learned from appellant's mother that the shooting of the victim may have been in retaliation for an attempted robbery or a robbery incident involving the victim.

         {¶9} Later in the day, appellant requested a ride to the home of an acquaintance and was heard remarking that something was "fishy." Nobody answered the door at the home, and appellant told others to leave him there. A few minutes later, ...


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