Court No. 15CR000048
A. Haselman, Fulton County Prosecuting Attorney, for
A. Kendall, for appellant.
DECISION AND JUDGMENT
1} This is an appeal from the judgment of the Fulton
County Court of Common Pleas, following a jury trial,
convicting appellant of one count of domestic violence in
violation of R.C. 2919.25, a misdemeanor of the fourth
degree, and one count of involuntary manslaughter in
violation of R.C. 2903.04(A), a felony of the first degree,
with an attendant gun specification. For the reasons that
follow, we affirm.
Facts and Procedural Background
2} The testimony from the trial reveals that in the
early morning hours of April 25, 2015, appellant confronted
his estranged wife in the parking lot of DB Billiards in
Wauseon, Ohio. As appellant's wife exited the pool hall
and entered her vehicle, appellant drove up behind her and
blocked her vehicle with his car. Appellant than exited his
vehicle and banged on his wife's driver's-side
window; first with his fist, then with a gun.
3} The victim, Josh McJilton, saw this altercation
and intervened. Security footage from the pool hall shows
that the victim approached appellant and the two stood close
together face to face. Appellant fired a warning shot in the
air, but the victim did not move back. Appellant then began
backing away and fired shots towards the ground near
appellant's feet. One of the shots hit the victim in the
left leg. The victim then either fell or lunged forward.
Appellant fired another shot, which hit the victim in the
right chest, and because of the shallow angle, passed through
the victim's body, perforating the victim's lung and
heart. The victim died as a result of this gunshot wound.
4} Appellant was indicted on charges of domestic
violence and murder. He entered a plea of not guilty, and the
matter proceeded to a jury trial. Prior to the start of
trial, appellant filed a motion for a change of venue,
arguing that due to the extensive pre-trial publicity,
appellant could not receive a fair trial in Fulton County.
The trial court held this motion in abeyance until after voir
dire. At voir dire, most of the potential jurors indicated
that they had some familiarity with the case, either through
news reports, social media, or word of mouth. Those jurors
who indicated that they could not set their prior knowledge
aside and reach a verdict solely on the facts presented at
trial were immediately excused. A large number of the
remaining jurors stated that they could decide the case based
on the facts presented at trial, and acknowledged that news
reports can contain errors, or may not present all of the
facts. After the challenges for cause, and the use of all of
the peremptory challenges, the jury consisted of nine
individuals who had admitted to some level of pre-trial
exposure to the facts of the case. However, all of the jurors
reported that they could be fair and impartial. Upon the
seating of the jury, the trial judge denied appellant's
motion for a change of venue, stating that he was confident
that appellant could receive a fair trial.
5} Following the presentation of the evidence, the
trial court instructed the jury on the charges of domestic
violence and murder. The court also instructed the jury on
the lesser included offenses of involuntary manslaughter in
violation of R.C. 2903.04(A), with the underlying predicate
offense being a felony, and reckless homicide in violation of
R.C. 2903.041. Notably, the court denied appellant's
request to alternatively instruct the jury on involuntary
manslaughter, with the underlying predicate offense being a
misdemeanor, in violation of R.C. 2903.04(B).
6} The jury returned with a verdict finding
appellant guilty of domestic violence and involuntary
manslaughter with the gun specification. At sentencing, the
trial court imposed a total prison sentence of 14 years.
Assignments of Error
7} Appellant has timely appealed his judgment of
conviction, and now asserts two assignments of error for our
I. The trial court abused its discretion and denied Mr.
Cordoba his right to a fair and impartial jury when it
overruled his motion for a change of venue, in violation of
Mr. Cordoba's rights under the Sixth and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States ...