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State v. Bridges

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

November 16, 2017

STATE OF OHIO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
BRANDON BRIDGES DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

         Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-16-608028-A

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Judith M. Kowalski

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

          BEFORE: E.A. Gallagher, P.J., Kilbane, J., and Jones, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          EILEEN A. GALLAGHER, PRESIDING JUDGE

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Brandon Bridges appeals the sentences imposed after he pled guilty to one count of robbery, one count of abduction and one count of having a weapon while under disability. Bridges contends that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing consecutive sentences, resulting in an aggregate sentence of five years in prison. He also contends that the trial court erred in failing to merge the having a weapon while under disability count with the other counts for sentencing purposes. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         {¶2} On July 28, 2016, a Cuyahoga County Grand Jury indicted Bridges on charges of aggravated robbery in violation of R.C. 2911.01(A)(1) (Count 1); robbery in violation of R.C. 2911.02(A)(2) with one-year and three-year firearm specifications (Count 2); kidnapping in violation of R.C. 2905.01(A)(2) with one-year and three-year firearm specifications (Count 3) and having a weapon while under disability in violation of R.C. 2932.13(A)(2) (Count 5). A codefendant, Tyrone Leegrand, was also indicted on Counts 1, 2 and 3 and a separate count of having a weapon while under disability (Count 4). The charges arose out of a July 7, 2016 incident in which Bridges and Leegrand allegedly held a 76-year-old woman at gunpoint and demanded her purse and keys. The victim, who had been parking her car to meet her son and daughter-in-law for brunch, refused and swung at Leegrand. While the victim was struggling to retain her property, her son drove up the street, saw the attempted robbery and struck Bridges with the front of his car. Bridges and Leegrand ran off and were later arrested.

         {¶3} On February 9, 2017, Bridges and the state reached a plea agreement. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Bridges agreed to plead guilty to (1) an amended Count 2, reducing the robbery charge from a second-degree felony to a third-degree felony and deleting the three-year firearm specification, (2) an amended Count 3, reducing the kidnapping charge to a charge of abduction, a third-degree felony, and deleting the one-year and three-year firearm specifications and (3) Count 5, the having a weapon while under disability charge. The parties agreed that Counts 2 and 3 would merge for sentencing, that the state would elect to sentence on Count 2 and that Counts 2 and 5 did not merge for sentencing.

         {¶4} After a thorough plea colloquy, Bridges pled guilty to the amended charges as agreed. The trial court found that Bridges had entered his guilty pleas knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily with a full understanding of his rights and accepted his guilty pleas. In exchange for Bridges' guilty pleas, Count 1 was nolled. The trial court referred the case for preparation of a presentence investigation report.

         {¶5} At the sentencing hearing, the trial court heard from Bridges, defense counsel and the state. After listening to the parties' statements and arguments, reviewing the PSI and expressly considering both the principles and purposes of sentencing under R.C. 2929.11 and the relevant statutory factors under R.C. 2929.12, the trial court sentenced Bridges to an aggregate prison term of five years: four years on Count 2 (one-year on the firearm specification to be served prior to and consecutive to 36 months on the robbery offense) and 12 months on Count 5 to be served consecutively to the sentence on Count 2. The trial court also imposed three years of postrelease control.

         {¶6} In support of its imposition of consecutive sentences, the trial court found that consecutive sentences were necessary to protect the public from future crime and to punish Bridges, that consecutive sentences were not disproportionate to the seriousness of his conduct and to the danger he poses to the public, that Bridges committed the offenses while under postrelease control for a prior conviction in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court and on probation from a prior offense in the Rocky River Municipal Court and that his history of criminal conduct demonstrates that consecutive sentences are necessary to protect the public from his commission of future crime. The trial court set forth its findings in its March 2, 2017 sentencing journal entry.

         {¶7} Bridges appeals his sentences, raising the following assignments of error for review:

FIRST ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR:
The trial court abused its discretion and erred to the prejudice of appellant by sentencing him to a total of five years imprisonment, including consecutive terms, in that a consecutive sentence is not necessary to protect the public, and is disproportionate to the seriousness of the offender's conduct.
SECOND ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR:
The trial court erred when it failed to merge one count of having a weapon under disability with the other charges for purposes of sentencing.

         Law and Analysis

         Imposition of Consecutive Sentences

         {¶8} In his first assignment of error, Bridges contends that the trial court abused its discretion and erred in imposing consecutive sentences because the record does not support ...


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