Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Stephen L. Miles
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga
County Prosecutor, Brent Kirvel Assistant Prosecuting
BEFORE: S. Gallagher, J., McCormack, P.J., and Laster Mays,
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
C. GALLAGHER, JUDGE
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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