Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Bell

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton

December 13, 2017

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JAMES BELL, Defendant-Appellant.

         Criminal Appeal From: Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas TRIAL NO. B-1401726

          Joseph T. Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, and Scott M. Heenan, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Plaintiff-Appellee,

          Soumyajit Dutta, for Defendant-Appellant.

          OPINION

          MILLER, JUDGE.

         {¶1} Following a jury trial, James Bell was convicted of aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, two counts of felonious assault, and kidnapping-each with an accompanying firearm specification-and having a weapon while under a disability. The trial court imposed an aggregate term of 52 years of incarceration. We affirm.

         A Home Invasion and a Kidnapping

         {¶2} Returning home one evening, Cortaize Parker and Aunise Brown, along with their two children, parked near the backdoor of the family's townhouse. Parker went inside, while Brown started to get the children out of their car seats. Parker heard screams, opened the backdoor, and saw an unidentified man holding Brown and the children at gunpoint. A second unidentified man entered Parker's house, shot Parker in the leg, and let a third man in through the front door. Parker identified Bell as the third man. Parker suffered multiple gunshot wounds from Bell and the unknown assailant. While Parker lay bleeding, the two men ransacked Parker and Brown's home, stole money, and left.

         {¶3} Parker called 9-1-1. He did not identify Bell by name during the call. Parker was transported to the hospital and, almost immediately upon his arrival, was questioned by police officer Adam Wood. Parker told Officer Wood that one of the men involved was "James, " who Parker knew as the brother of Brown's best friend, Melanzie Williams. At the hospital, Parker also separately identified Bell to Detective Dustin Weekly. Parker did not speak with Brown before identifying Bell to police.

         {¶4} Meantime, the three perpetrators forced Brown to leave her children in the townhouse's parking lot and abducted her. They drove her to the apartment of Brown's cousin, Sharon Brown. The men force Brown to lie on a bed while they rummaged through a back room.

         {¶5} Once the men left, Brown immediately called her mother, Anita Brown, and asked Anita to get Brown's children. Brown next called 9-1-1. She told the 9-1-1 operator that she could not identify any of the men involved. Police responded to Sharon's apartment and immediately questioned Brown. She did not identify Bell.

         {¶6} At trial, Brown, who knew Bell, stated that Bell had a very distinctive voice, and that she recognized his voice during the car ride from her home to Sharon's. Brown also testified that, as soon as the men had left Sharon's apartment, she opened the front door of the apartment and saw Bell in the hallway.

         {¶7} The defense questioned Brown about her failure to name Bell at the scene or on the 9-1-1 call. Brown explained that she was too preoccupied with her children's safety to initially identify Bell. However, she thought she had told police later on that night that one of the perpetrators was "James Williams, " Melanzie Williams's brother. At the time, Brown didn't know that James and Melanzie had different last names. The defense also cross-examined Brown concerning her connection to other possible suspects, including a man named Damon Kirkenhall whose fingerprints were found at the scene. She denied knowing Kirkenhall.

         {¶8} Two days after the home invasion, Parker picked Bell out of a photographic lineup. Within a month, Anita Brown received a handwritten, unsigned letter that included details referencing the home invasion and kidnapping. Anita Brown put the letter into a plastic bag, and 14 months later turned the letter over to police. Police tested the letter. Bell's fingerprints were on it.

          {¶9} Bell testified in his own defense. He admitted that he wrote the letter but denied involvement in the home invasion and kidnapping. He testified that he had been at Sharon's apartment complex selling drugs all day, and that he had seen Brown being dragged from a car and forced to go to an apartment. Bell claimed that he grabbed an AK-47, and went to Sharon ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.