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Trzeciak v. Coleman

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division

December 12, 2017

JOSEPH TREZCIAK, Petitioner,
v.
JOHN COLEMAN, Warden, Toledo Correctional Institution, Respondent.

          Susan J. Dlott District Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          MICHAEL R. MERZ, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This is a habeas corpus case brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 by Petitioner Joseph Trezciak with the assistance of counsel. The case was initially filed in the Northern District of Ohio where Petitioner is in custody, but was transferred here shortly after filing because Mr. Trezciak's conviction occurred in the Brown County, Ohio, Common Pleas Court, and Brown County is in the Southern District of Ohio. Both the Northern and Southern Districts thus have jurisdiction and the transfer was proper under 28 U.S.C. § 2241(d).

         The case is pending on the Petition (ECF No. 1), the State Court Record (ECF No. 10), the Return of Writ (ECF No. 11), and the Petitioner's Reply (ECF No. 13). The Magistrate Judge reference in the case was recently transferred to the undersigned to help balance with Magistrate Judge workload in the Western Division.

         Procedural History

         On August 7, 2013, the Brown County Grand Jury issued an indictment charging Trzeciak with one count of murder (Ohio Revised Code § 2903.02(A)) (Count 1), with a firearm specification. The charge stemmed from the June 7, 2013, shooting death of Trezciak's cousin James Mootispaw, at the Hyde Park Apartments in Mt. Orab, Brown County, Ohio as Mootispaw attempted to flee with $1, 200 of Trzeciak's money. The case was tried to a jury which returned guilty verdicts on the murder count and the firearm specification. The Common Pleas Court then imposed a sentence of fifteen years to life on the murder count plus a consecutive three years on the firearm specification.

         Petitioner then appealed to the Twelfth District Court of Appeals, raising the following assignments of error:

1. The trial court erred by giving improper and inaccurate instructions to the jury.
2. The trial court erred by failing to exclude prejudicial evidence.
3. The verdict was against the weight of the evidence.

         The Twelfth District affirmed the conviction, rejecting these assignments. State v. Trzeciak, 2015-Ohio-2219, 2015 Ohio App. LEXIS 2135 (12th Dist. Jun. 8, 2015), further appellate jurisdiction declined, 2015-Ohio-5225, 2015 Ohio LEXIS 3378 (Dec. 16, 2015).

         Having failed to obtain Ohio Supreme Court review of his conviction, Mr. Trezciak through counsel filed his Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus raising the following grounds for relief:

GROUND ONE: Petitioner's conviction was obtained in violation of the due process clause of the constitution as a result of the court's erroneous jury instructions.
Supporting Facts: The trial court improperly instructed the jury that the essential element of purposely could be met regardless of the defendant's intentions.
GROUND TWO: The conviction was obtained in violation of the right to due process and a fair trial by the admission of irrelevant, inadmissible, and unduly prejudicial evidence.
Supporting Facts: The trial court admitted demonstrative exhibits from the prosecutors' office which included photographs of the defendant overlaid with the ...

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