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State v. Guice

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Lorain

December 29, 2017

STATE OF OHIO Appellee
v.
JARELLE N. GUICE Appellant

         APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF LORAIN, OHIO CASE No. 12CR085522

          STEPHEN P. HANUDEL, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          DENNIS P. WILL, Prosecuting Attorney, and NATASHA RUIZ GUERRIERI, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          CALLAHAN, JUDGE.

         {¶1} Defendant-Appellant, Jarelle Guice, appeals from his convictions in the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas. This Court affirms.

         I.

         {¶2} Late one evening, Mr. Guice ignored a police officer's signal to stop his car and led the officer on a brief car chase. At the time, Mr. Guice was the subject of a BOLO ("be on the lookout") because he had threatened his ex-girlfriend several hours earlier. The chase ended when Mr. Guice, having driven to the duplex community where his ex-girlfriend was staying, crashed his car into a neighboring unit. When the officer following him arrived a few seconds later, Mr. Guice fired a gun in the direction of the officer's cruiser, causing the officer to retreat. Mr. Guice then broke into the duplex unit where his ex-girlfriend was staying, held the gun to his head, and threatened suicide.

         {¶3} Multiple officers responded to the scene and ultimately cornered Mr. Guice in an outside area. A standoff then ensued and lasted for approximately twenty minutes. During the standoff, Mr. Guice threatened suicide and repeatedly encouraged officers to shoot him. Though officers continuously commanded him to drop his weapon and attempted to calm him, Mr. Guice ignored their attempts at intervention and ultimately stated that "he was going to kill a f***ing cop tonight." Four officers were standing in a group to the north of Mr. Guice, and two of those officers were armed with a shotgun and an assault rifle. Within two minutes of declaring his intention to kill a police officer, Mr. Guice commented on the size of those officers' guns, turned toward their group, and fired his gun in their direction. Multiple officers then returned fire, subdued Mr. Guice, and ended the standoff.

         {¶4} A grand jury indicted Mr. Guice on four counts of attempted aggravated murder, five counts of felonious assault, five counts of assault, and one count each of attempted murder, aggravated burglary, having a weapon under disability, receiving stolen property, inducing panic, obstructing official business, and criminal damaging. Nineteen of Mr. Guice's counts contained attendant firearm specifications. Additionally, his felonious assault and assault counts were charged as higher-level felonies due to the presence of an enhancing element (i.e., that the victims were peace officers).

         {¶5} A jury trial took place and, at its conclusion, the State dismissed the receiving stolen property count. The jury then deliberated on the remaining counts and specifications and found Mr. Guice guilty. The court merged all of his felonious assault and assault counts into his attempted aggravated murder and attempted murder counts and ultimately sentenced him to a total of 15 years in prison.

         {¶6} Mr. Guice now appeals from his convictions and raises six assignments of error for this Court's review. For ease of analysis, this Court consolidates several of his assignments of error.

         II.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 1

         THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY NOT DISMISSING THE ATTEMPTED AGGRAVATED MURDER AND ATTEMPTED MURDER COUNTS (1-5) PURSUANT TO CRIM. R. 29 BECAUSE THE EVIDENCE WAS INSUFFICIENT AS TO [MR] GUICE'S INTENT TO KILL.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 2

         THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY NOT DISMISSING THE ATTEMPTED AGGRAVATED MURDER COUNTS 1-4 PURSUANT TO CRIM. R. 29 BECAUSE THE EVIDENCE WAS INSUFFICIENT AS TO [MR] GUICE'S PRIOR CALCULATION AND DESIGN.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 3

         THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY NOT DISMISSING THE AGGRAVATED BURGLARY CHARGE PURSUANT TO CRIM. R. 29 BECAUSE THE EVIDENCE WAS INSUFFICIENT AS TO [MR] GUICE'S INTENT TO COMMIT A CRIME WITHIN THE OCCUPIED STRUCTURE.

         {¶7} In the foregoing assignments of error, Mr. Guice argues that the trial court erred by denying his Crim.R. 29 motion because several of his convictions are based on insufficient evidence. This Court disagrees.

         {¶8} "'[This Court] review[s] a denial of a defendant's Crim.R. 29 motion for acquittal by assessing the sufficiency of the State's evidence.'" State v. Bulls, 9th Dist. Summit No. 27029, 2015-Ohio-276, ¶ 6, quoting State v. Frashuer, 9th Dist. Summit No. 24769, 2010-Ohio-634, ¶ 33. Whether the evidence in a case is legally sufficient to sustain a conviction is a question of law that this Court reviews de novo. State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 386 (1997).

An appellate court's function when reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a criminal conviction is to examine the evidence admitted at trial to determine whether such evidence, if believed, would convince the average mind of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The relevant inquiry is whether, after viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

State v. Jenks, 61 Ohio St.3d 259');">61 Ohio St.3d 259 (1991), paragraph two of the syllabus. "In essence, sufficiency is a test of adequacy." Thompkins at 386.

         {¶9} A defendant commits aggravated murder if he purposely causes the death of another "with prior calculation and design." R.C. 2903.01(A). "'Prior calculation and design' denotes 'sufficient time and opportunity for the planning of an act of homicide * * *' coupled with circumstances that demonstrate 'a scheme designed to implement the calculated decision to kill * * *.'" State v. Powell 9th Dist. Summit No. 28170, 2017-Ohio-5629, ¶ 9, quoting State v. Cotton, 56 Ohio St.2d 8 (1978), paragraph three of the syllabus. "While a few fleeting moments of deliberation or instantaneous deliberations are inadequate to support prior calculation and design, 'a prolonged period of deliberation is [also] unnecessary.'" State v. Hairston, 9th Dist. Lorain No. 05CA008768, 2006-Ohio-4925, ¶ 80, quoting Taylor v. Mitchell, 296 F.Supp.2d 784, 821 (N.D.Ohio 2003). In determining whether an individual acted with prior calculation and design, courts consider the totality of the circumstances. State v. Guerra, 9th Dist. Lorain No. 12CA010188, 2013-Ohio-5367, ¶ 6.

         {¶10} In the absence of prior calculation and design, purposeful killing constitutes murder. R.C. 2903.02(A). "A person acts purposely when it is his specific intention to cause a certain result, or, when the gist of the offense is a prohibition against conduct of a certain nature, regardless of what [he] intends to accomplish thereby, it is his specific intention to engage in conduct of that nature." Former R.C. 2901.22(A). The attempt statute prohibits any person from "purposely or knowingly * * * engag[ing] in conduct that, if successful, would constitute or result in [an] offense." R.C. 2923.02(A).

         {¶11} The aggravated burglary statute prohibits any person, "by force, stealth, or deception, " from

trespass[ing] in an occupied structure * * * when another person other than an accomplice of the offender is present, with purpose to commit in the structure * * * any criminal offense, if * * * [he] has a deadly weapon * * * on or about [his] person or under [his] control.

(Emphasis added.) R.C. 2911.11(A)(2). To satisfy the italicized portion of the statute, the State relied on Mr. Guice's obstructing official business count. A person obstructs official business when he, "without privilege to do so and with purpose to prevent, obstruct, or delay the performance by a public official of any authorized act within the public official's official capacity, [does] any act that hampers or impedes a public official in the performance of the public official's lawful duties." R.C. 2921.31(A). Obstructing official business is a fifth-degree felony if, while committing the offense, the offender "creates a risk of physical harm to any person * * *." R.C. 2921.31(B).

         {¶12} Officer Wesley Fordyce testified that, on June 2, 2012, he met with Mr. Guice's ex-girlfriend because Mr. Guice had been harassing her. He learned that she and Mr. Guice had recently ended their relationship, but that Mr. Guice was still contacting her, claiming she owed him money. Mr. Guice's ex-girlfriend told Officer Fordyce that Mr. Guice wanted to meet with her and became very upset when she refused. She described how Mr. Guice "began calling her and threatening her and saying he was going to kill her the next time he saw her." Following his conversation with the ex-girlfriend, Officer Fordyce filed a report and advised her to follow up with the prosecutor's office.

         {¶13} A.B. was friends with Mr. Guice and his ex-girlfriend and lived in a "four-way duplex" along with her two children. The day after Mr. Guice's ex-girlfriend spoke with Officer Fordyce, she was staying with A.B. A.B. testified that she had invited the ex-girlfriend to stay with her because the ex-girlfriend and Mr. Guice's "on-again-off-again" relationship had yet again ended. A.B. testified that Mr. Guice came to her home that day because he wanted to talk to his ex-girlfriend. Mr. Guice was "pretty mad" at the time and began kicking the door when he was refused entry. Although A.B. attempted to calm Mr. Guice by talking to him through the door, she indicated that he then became even angrier and began making threats. She specified that he threatened to "shoot up [her] house" and "beat[] [his ex-girlfriend's] ass." In response to Mr. Guice's arrival, the ex-girlfriend called the police. A.B. stated that Mr. Guice left before the police arrived.

         {¶14} Officer Randall Leiby was dispatched to A.B.'s home at approximately 8:50 p.m. as a result of the ex-girlfriend's call. He spoke with both the ex-girlfriend and A.B., and the ex-girlfriend ultimately signed a complaint against Mr. Guice for a temporary protection order. As a result of the incident, a BOLO was issued for ...


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