Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT John P. Parker
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga
County Prosecutor BY: Brian Radigan Assistant County
BEFORE: Boyle, J., Stewart, P.J., and Laster Mays, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
J. BOYLE, J.
Defendant-appellant, Eric M. McNeir, appeals his convictions.
On appeal, he raises two assignments of error:
1. The guilty pleas were not voluntarily made and the
Court's extensive colloquy/comments were coercive when
considered as a whole and McNeir's rights under
Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238 (1969) were
2. The trial court violated Due Process and ORC 2945.37(B) by
failing to hold a competency hearing before accepting
McNeir's guilty pleas.
Finding no merit to either of McNeir's assignments of
error, we affirm.
Procedural History and Factual Background
On November 20, 2015, the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury indicted
McNeir with two counts of aggravated murder; one count of
murder; one count of attempted murder with a notice of prior
conviction and a repeat violent offender specification; two
counts of aggravated robbery with a notice of prior
conviction and a repeat violent offender specification; seven
counts of felonious assault with a notice of prior conviction
and a repeat violent offender specification; two counts of
tampering with evidence; one count of having weapons while
under disability; one count of involuntary manslaughter; and
two counts of discharge of firearm on or near prohibited
premises. Except for the counts of tampering with evidence,
all of the counts carried one- and three-year firearm
specifications. McNeir pleaded not guilty to all of the
During a pretrial hearing on May 16, 2016, the court inquired
as to the status of plea negotiations between the parties.
After the state explained that it would amend the indictment
and recommend a sentence of 18 to 22 years in exchange for
McNeir's plea of guilty, the trial court engaged in an
extensive colloquy with McNeir explaining his options,
including the different sentences that he potentially faced
under the plea agreement versus at trial.
The trial court then asked McNeir a number of preliminary
questions concerning his age and comprehension of the
proceedings against him. In response to the court's
questions, McNeir stated that he did not know his age, what
was going on, or who his lawyers were. As a result, the court
had a detailed conversation with McNeir and his counsel in an
effort to address McNeir's alleged confusion. After
McNeir's defense counsel informed the court that they had
met with their client several times and that he understood
everything they explained to him, the trial court explained
to McNeir that his trial was set for the following week.
McNeir, however, again expressed confusion. The trial court,
in support of its belief that McNeir's confusion was a
ruse, set forth his observations of McNeir's slouched,
seated position and failure to maintain eye contact on the
record. The trial court then recessed and gave defense
counsel time to privately speak with McNeir.
After the recess, defense counsel for McNeir advised the
court that they were "instructed by [their] client to
motion the Court for a mental health assessment with regard
to competency." The trial court asked McNeir's
defense counsel if "there [was] anything in [their]
professional dealings with [McNeir] that [they thought was]
supportive of that request[, ]" to which counsel stated
that he would "rather not answer that question."
The court then had a lengthy discussion with McNeir, during
which the court stated that it believed McNeir was playing
games and not genuinely confused and asked if McNeir had any
thoughts or reasons on why a competency evaluation was
necessary. After McNeir continued to claim that he was
confused and explained that he did not know why ...