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State v. Hector

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

December 21, 2017

State of Ohio, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Eugene C. Hector, Defendant-Appellant.

         APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas No. 16CR-363

         On brief:

          Ron O'Brien, Prosecuting Attorney, and Seth L. Gilbert, for appellee.


          Seth L. Gilbert.

         On brief:

          Jeremy A. Roth, for appellant.


          Jeremy A. Roth.


          SADLER, J.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Eugene C. Hector, appeals from the judgment entry of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas finding him guilty of aggravated robbery, robbery with associated firearm specifications, and tampering with evidence. For the following reasons, we affirm the decision of the trial court.


         {¶ 2} In January 2016, appellant was indicted on one count of aggravated robbery, pursuant to R.C. 2911.01, two counts of robbery, pursuant to R.C. 2911.02, and one count of tampering with evidence pursuant to R.C. 2921.12. The aggravated robbery and robbery counts each carried a three-year firearm specification.[1] Appellant entered a plea of not guilty. The case proceeded to a jury trial, where plaintiff-appellee, State of Ohio, argued appellant was complicit in the January 7, 2016 armed robbery of a market.

         {¶ 3} Officer Kyle Jacobs of the Whitehall Division of Police testified that on January 7, 2016 at 10:56 p.m., he was dispatched to a Hamilton Road market regarding a robbery that had just occurred. Jacobs, the first officer to arrive, spoke to employees of the market who were present during the robbery. The employees were not able to provide a good description of the robbery suspect but did describe the vehicle driven by the robbery suspect as a grayish Dodge Durango.

         {¶ 4} Almareli Alcauter testified to working at the market on the evening of January 7, 2016, along with her father, Jorge Alcauter Mata, her friend, Erica Saucedo, and another girl named Yumeri. Alcauter's daughter, who was two years old at the time, was also present in the market. At about 10:50 p.m., with the market empty of customers, the group took a break. Mata just sat down with his granddaughter close to the cash registers when a man walked in wearing a mask like the one worn in the movie "Scream" and holding a gun. (Tr. Vol. 1 at 56.) Alcauter, who was standing almost next to her dad and daughter, personally saw the gun and described it as a black, semi-automatic handgun. Alcauter testified to being familiar with the difference between semi-automatics and revolvers.

         {¶ 5} Once in the market, the man said several times, "[p]ut your hands up. Get on the floor, " and then "[p]ut the money in the bag." (Tr. Vol. 1 at 56-57.) He pointed the gun at everyone while he was talking. Alcauter attempted to push a panic button, but the alarm did not go off; she put her hands up but did not get on the floor. When Mata tried to tell the man that an employee could not open the cash register, the man "went directly to my dad and daughter and pointed the gun to them." (Tr. Vol. 1 at 57.) Eventually, after about five minutes, the man got money from the cash register and ran out of the market. Alcauter testified that after he left, they all ran out of the market to see if they could see a car. Alcauter saw the man go into an SUV parked outside the market next to her own car; she believed the SUV was backed into the parking spot. Alcauter believed the man's SUV was still running because he left right away. She testified she was "pretty sure" someone else was in the car although she could not see their face. (Tr. Vol. 1 at 61.) Alcauter agreed this incident was scary "because he had a gun, and he was pointing it everywhere, and then because he went directly to my daughter and my father." (Tr. Vol. 1 at 67.)

         {¶ 6} Saucedo testified to working at the market on the night of the robbery. According to Saucedo, she was standing next to the cash register with Yumeri when the masked man entered the market and told everyone to put their hands up and get on the floor. Saucedo looked for an alarm but could not find one. The man told Saucedo to open the cash register, and she replied that she could not open it. The cash register eventually opened and the man grabbed the money, shoved it into his pockets while dropping most of it on the floor, and walked out. Saucedo did not go out into the parking lot and did not see the vehicle.

         {¶ 7} Mata testified to working at the market on the evening of the robbery. He had just sat down with his granddaughter in his arms when the masked man came into the market, pointing and aiming a black handgun. According to Mata, the man went to the cash registers, aimed the gun at the cash register girl, and asked for money. When she answered Mata was the only one who was able to open the cash registers, the man came to Mata and pointed the gun at him. The girl at the cash register was "pushing buttons left and right" and finally pushed a button that opened the register. (Tr. Vol. 1 at 94.) The man took some money and left the market. Mata believed the entire incident lasted two to three minutes. Mata testified he did not see the man get into a vehicle; by the time Mata exited the market, a greyish Dodge SUV was already running and a customer told Mata that the man was in that SUV.

         {¶ 8} Adam Hatchett testified to accepting a plea deal whereby he entered a guilty plea on the charges of aggravated robbery with the firearm specification, tampering with evidence, and five counts of receiving stolen property as well as entering a guilty plea on a prior aggravated robbery. The plea deal includes an agreed upon sentence of 13 years incarceration and Hatchett's promise to testify truthfully regarding appellant's involvement in the market robbery.

         {¶ 9} Hatchett lived on South Hamilton Road with Melissa Poindexter, his girlfriend and mother of his children. Hatchett characterized appellant as his cousin through marriage and someone he has known almost his whole life. Around the time of the market robbery, Hatchett was "doing pills, " specifically "Percocet 30s" without a prescription. (Tr. Vol. 1 at 104.) He would get money to support his Percocet habit from his job pay, his girlfriend, and stealing, and basically would do anything he could to avoid going through withdrawals from the drug. Hatchett and appellant would take Percocet together and had taken Xanax together a couple times.

         {¶ 10} On January 7, 2016, Hatchett was trying to find money to get pills. Around 6:00 p.m., he took Poindexter's Dodge Durango and picked up appellant. According to appellant, they "rode around for a while trying to figure out a way to get some money so [they could] get some pills." (Tr. Vol. 1 at 109.) At first, they were going to try to break into cars but that did not work out. Hatchett told appellant about a prior robbery of a smoke shop that Hatchett committed by himself and suggested they try another robbery to get money. Hatchett agreed that he and appellant decided to commit a robbery together and then "cas[ed] out the [market]" by driving by it and contemplating whether or not they were going to rob it. (Tr. Vol. 1 at 110.)

         {¶ 11} Eventually, Hatchett drove the car to the parking lot of the market and backed the car into a spot where they could see the front door but not the inside of the market. At that point, Hatchett and appellant watched the market to see if the customers "cleared out." (Tr. Vol. 1 at 116.) Hatchett confirmed that appellant was awake and was not asleep in the car. Hatchett testified that once all the customers cleared out, Hatchett ran inside wearing a "Scream mask" while appellant remained in the car. (Tr. Vol. 1 at 118.) According to Hatchett, the gun he used was "fake." (Tr. Vol. I at 119.) Hatchett admitted that he "waived [] around" the gun and "pointed it at people's faces" while demanding money; he thought the girl at the register was scared. (Tr. Vol. 1 at 119.) He further testified that he did see Alcauter's daughter and pointed the gun in her direction. Hatchett "can't say if [he] was threatening them or not" but was not intending to hurt them. (Tr. Vol. 1 at 120.) According to Hatchett, he got approximately $800 from the cash register, ran out of the market nearly colliding with a customer, started the SUV, and sped out of the parking lot. Appellant was in the passenger side of the vehicle still awake.

         {¶ 12} Hatchett drove the SUV down Noe-Bixby Road, where he "got rid of the mask and "fake" gun. (Tr. Vol. 1 at 125.) According to Hatchett, he asked appellant to throw the mask out the window, which appellant did. They went to an apartment complex, and Hatchett threw his jacket in a trash can. Hatchett and appellant then drove back to Hatchett's house, and both men went into Hatchett's house and talked about what happened with Poindexter. They "split the money up" in half and called for pills. (Tr. Vol. 1 at 128.) Two pill dealers arrived at Hatchett's house and both appellant and Hatchett bought about $200 worth of pills a piece, then hung out at Hatchett's house, "did some pills, " and eventually Hatchett or the pill dealers took appellant home. (Tr. Vol. 1 at 129.)

         {¶ 13} Hatchett was arrested on January 12, 2016 and eventually confessed to the market robbery. Hatchett testified that he initially tried to cover for appellant but then told the "whole story." (Tr. Vol. 1 at 136.) Appellant was later arrested. According to Hatchett, when then two saw each other in a holding cell prior to a court date, appellant confronted him saying, "Oh, yeah, you're telling, your girl's telling, " and then sucker punched Hatchett. (Tr. Vol. 1 at 139.)

         {¶ 14} On cross-examination, Hatchett testified that on January 7, 2016, he had been doing pills all day, beginning early in the morning. He agreed pills affect his memory but testified he still remembers the robbery of the market. Regarding how appellant helped him in the robbery, appellant responded, "[h]e was with me in the car, and we just rode by and was looking at the place"; Hatchett could not recall exactly what was said word for word. (Tr. Vol. 1 at 147.) Pressed further, Hatchett elaborated, "[a]ll I know is that we was together, rode by the place, cased the place out, and I was the one who went in and committed the robbery. * * * We're both scoping the place out. * * * He helped by watching outside to make sure all the customers were gone, there was nobody else in the parking lot, there was nobody else in the building. That's how he helped me." (Tr. Vol. 1 at 147-48.) Hatchett testified they spent about 15 to 20 minutes parked outside the market before Hatchett decide to go in. The two did not have a plan for what they would do if a customer attempted to go into the market while Hatchett was inside. Hatchett confirmed appellant was not the "getaway driver." (Tr. Vol. 1 at 149.) Regarding throwing away evidence, Hatchett added that he asked appellant to throw the mask away because the passenger side of the SUV was closer to some woods along the road. Regarding the plea deal, Hatchett agreed that he would have faced the possibility of over 30 years of prison if he did not sign the agreement.

         {¶ 15} Poindexter testified that she lived with Hatchett and their three children and that she has known appellant for over eight years. On January 7, 2016, sometime after she came home from work, Hatchett left alone and returned several hours later with appellant. According to Poindexter, Hatchett and appellant were "kind of amped up, excited, " and laughing, and appellant said to her "[w]e're moving up in the world, Missy. We're doing big things. He's got me doing big things." (Tr. Vol. 1 at 179-80.) Hatchett pulled out a large amount of cash in small denominations and was flashing the money and pretending like he was counting it. According to Poindexter, Hatchett "handed some of it to [appellant], and then put the rest of it back inside his pocket." (Tr. Vol. 1 at 181.) Poindexter did not ask them where they got the money but "asked them to leave the room, because I didn't know what was happening, and I didn't want it to happen in front of my kids." (Tr. Vol. 1 at 181.) Hatchett and appellant went downstairs; later Poindexter heard the two pill dealers in the house. Poindexter either called or texted Hatchett and told him to leave because she did not like the pill dealers being in the house. Eventually, the pill dealers and appellant left.

         {¶ 16} The next day, Poindexter was pulled over by a Gahanna police officer, and her car was impounded. On January 12th, she received a call informing her Hatchett had been taken by police and returned home to find police executing a search warrant in her home. Poindexter testified that during an initial meeting with police detectives, she was shown the market video and told police she recognized her vehicle and Hatchett. The detectives asked her if she knew appellant and she answered yes, and she did not know where he was currently staying. She spoke to Hatchett and told ...

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