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State v. Binford

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

January 11, 2018


         Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-16-610418-A

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Allison S. Breneman

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor By: Kelly Needham Assistant County Prosecutor

          BEFORE: Keough, P.J., E.A. Gallagher, A.J., and Kilbane, J.



         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Carlos Binford ("Binford") appeals from the judgment of the common pleas court, rendered after a jury verdict, finding him guilty of felonious assault, having weapons while under disability, and improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle. Binford contends that his convictions were not supported by sufficient evidence and are against the manifest weight of the evidence; his trial counsel was ineffective; and the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing him to 11 years in prison. Finding no merit to the appeal, we affirm.

         I. Facts and Procedural Background

         {¶2} A grand jury indicted Binford in multicount indictment as follows: Count 1, felonious assault in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(1); Count 2, felonious assault in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(2); Count 3, having weapons while under disability in violation of R.C. 2923.13(A)(3); and Count 4, improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle in violation of R.C. 2923.16(B). The felonious assault charges carried one- and three-year firearm specifications. Binford pleaded not guilty, and the case proceeded to trial.

         {¶3} Deandre Rencher ("Rencher") testified that on June 26, 2016, he called his ex-girlfriend, Shennell Owens ("Owens"), and told her that he wanted to speak to Binford, her current boyfriend, because several people had told him that Binford had broken out the window in Rencher's car several months earlier. Rencher then called his son, Deandre Ward ("Ward") to meet him at Owens's apartment "to watch his back." At that time, Rencher only knew Binford's name as "Los."

         {¶4} Binford and his cousin, Maurice Henderson, met Rencher and Ward at Owens's apartment. Rencher and Binford argued about the window. Rencher told Binford that he owed him $300, the cost to repair the window, and Binford denied breaking the window. Eventually everyone left.

         {¶5} Rencher said that later that day, he went to a park and met up with a friend of his. As they sat on a park bench talking, he saw a car park on a street next to the park. Rencher saw Binford and two other men, one of them Henderson, get out of the car. Rencher testified that Binford then walked up to him and said, "I ain't got nothing for you man, " which Rencher understood to mean that Binford was not going to pay him for the window. Rencher then stood up and began fighting with Binford. He said he eventually pinned Binford against a nearby tree but the other men pulled him and Binford apart, and Binford ran to his car.

         {¶6} Rencher began walking toward Binford's car. He testified that as he reached the street, he saw Binford open the back door of his car, reach in the back seat, pull out a gun, and shoot twice in the air. Binford then got in the driver's seat of his car.

         {¶7} Rencher said that as he turned around, he noticed his son Ward fighting with Henderson. He saw Henderson run away but then fall. Ward ran after him. As Ward neared Henderson, Rencher saw Binford driving his car up the street. Rencher said that the passenger window of Binford's car was open and as Binford drove by Henderson and Ward, he saw Binford "hanging out the window shooting." Rencher said he heard at least five shots. Rencher then heard Ward say, "Dad, I'm hit, " and he ran over to Ward. Henderson jumped off the ground, ran to Binford's car and got in, and they drove away. Rencher testified that several people who were at the park told him Binford's name, and Rencher gave the name to the police when they arrived at the scene.

         {¶8} Ward testified that there were "just words" but no physical altercation when Rencher confronted Binford at Owens's apartment earlier in the day about the broken window. Ward said that later that day, he went to the park to meet his father to borrow $20 from him. He testified that as he parked his car, he saw his father standing in the middle of the street, his shirt ripped and his neck bleeding. Ward also saw Binford, who was getting in his car, and Henderson, who was standing next to Binford's car.

         {¶9} Ward testified that he went up to Henderson and asked him what was going on. According to Ward, he and Henderson "locked up" and tried to slam each other to the ground. As they were fighting, Binford began pulling away. Henderson broke loose from Ward and began running toward the car but then fell down. Ward testified that he ran after Henderson and, as he reached him and was about to kick him, he heard about five shots. Ward said he looked up, saw Binford's hand "hanging out the window, " and felt that he had been shot. At the same time, Henderson got up, ran toward Binford's car and got in, and the car pulled away.

         {¶10} Ward testified that he told the police on the scene that he did not know who shot him because he did not know Binford's name. Later, after he learned Binford's name from his father, he called the police and gave them the name. Cleveland police detective John Kraynik testified that he showed a photo lineup to Ward, who picked Binford out of the lineup. Ward told Kraynik that he was 100 percent positive of his identification.

         {¶11} Owens testified that when Rencher was arguing with Binford at her apartment, she told him that he knew that Binford had not broken his window, and that he was merely trying to get back with her by causing problems with Binford. She concurred that everyone left before there was any physical altercation.

         {¶12} At the close of the state's evidence, Binford moved for Crim.R. 29 acquittal, which the trial court denied.

         {¶13} Henderson testified in Binford's defense. He said that he was with Binford at Owens's apartment earlier in the day on June 26, 2016, and that he spent most of the day with Binford. He said that Binford went up to Rencher at the park and tried to have a conversation with him but the two men started fighting. Henderson admitted that he fought with Ward when Ward showed up at the park. He said that as he was fighting with Ward, he heard shots, so he began running ...

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