from Marion County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No.
14-CR-0444 and 16-CR-0596
D. Witkin for Appellant
P. Collins for Appellee
Defendant-appellant Korey T. Randle ("Randle")
appeals the judgments of the Marion County Court of Common
Pleas, alleging (1) that the offenses of aggravated robbery
and kidnapping should have merged at sentencing; (2) that the
State violated ethical duties in the prosecution of this
case; (3) that the trial court erred by overruling his motion
for a mistrial after the prosecution requested a recess to
"bolster" a State witness's testimony; and (4)
that the jury returned a verdict against the manifest weight
of the evidence. For the reasons set forth below, the
judgments of the lower court are affirmed.
and Procedural History
At 7:00 in the morning on July 22, 2017, Matthew Thomas
("Thomas") left work and returned to his home on
Cherry Street in Marion, Ohio. Trial Tr. 315. At roughly
10:00 that morning, Randle came to Thomas's house for a
visit. Id. at 317. According to Thomas, he and
Randle, at some point that morning, decided to commit a
robbery. Id. at 322. They got in Thomas's
car-which was a maroon Chrysler PT Cruiser with flames
decaled on the front-and drove to Randle's house.
Id. at 322, 354. Thomas testified that they picked
up jumpsuits at Randle's house and then drove to Al's
Country Market. Id. at 322, 324.
Once they arrived at Al's Country Market, Thomas parked
in the lot in front of the store. Id. at 324. Thomas
testified that he got out of the car and walked into the
front door of the store while Randle walked around the back
of the store. Id. at 325. When Thomas entered the
store, no one was behind the counter. Id. at 148,
326-327. Thomas testified that he then saw Randle walk around
the corner with an employee of Al's Country Market-who
was Paulette Bullion ("Bullion")-walking in front
of him at knife point. Id. at 326-327.
Thomas testified that he and Randle yelled orders to Bullion.
Id. at 327. Bullion testified that, at this point,
the two men ordered her to put the money from the register
into a bag. Id. at 174. Once Bullion had emptied the
contents of the cash register and the lottery box into a
plastic bag, Thomas told Bullion to go to the back of the
store. Id. at 349. Randle, holding his knife, walked
Bullion to the back of the store where he directed Bullion to
go into a closet. Id. at 352. Thomas and Randle then
pushed a table and chair in front of the door. Id.
at 352. After the table was secured in front of the door,
Thomas grabbed Bullion's purse off of the table, and
Randle and Thomas exited the store. Id. at 352-353.
Shortly after Thomas and Randle left, a customer entered the
store. Id. at 152. Bullion, from inside the closet,
called out to the customer, who let Bullion out of the
closet. Id. Bullion then called the police.
Thomas testified that he and Randle then drove out of the
parking lot of Al's Country Market and went to the house
of Iris Rogers ("Rogers"), who was Randle's
cousin. Id. at 327, 426. At Rogers's house,
Randle gave Thomas his half of the money that they had stolen
from Al's Country Market. Id. at 332. Thomas
stated that he spent this money on cocaine at Rogers's
house. Id. at 332. From this location, Thomas began
driving back to his house on Cherry Street. Id. at
334. Law enforcement had, by this time, identified the maroon
PT Cruiser that Thomas drove to Al's Country Market as
belonging to Thomas and were searching for Thomas.
Id. When Thomas drove onto Cherry Street, the police
saw his vehicle and apprehended him. Id. Thomas did
not cooperate with the sheriffs office in this investigation.
Id. at 338. He did cooperate with the
prosecutor's office after a plea agreement had been
negotiated. Id. at 378. At this point, Thomas
implicated Randle in the offenses that were committed in
Al's Country Market. Id.
Randle was indicted on November 17, 2016. Doc. 1.
Randle's trial began on February 2, 2017. Trial Tr. 1. At
trial, Bullion testified about the incident. Id. at
147. On cross examination, she testified about the statement
that she gave to the police. Id. at 178, 180. The
Defense questioned her about a statement she made that
indicated that one of the perpetrators sounded as though they
had a foreign accent. Id. at 180. However, at trial,
she explained that the accent sounded like an attempt by the
perpetrator to disguise his voice. Id. She also
stated that the perpetrator sounded clearer as he continued
to speak. Id.
At the beginning of Thomas's direct examination, the
prosecutor asked Thomas whether he committed the robbery with
another person. Id. at 310. In response, Thomas
said, "I need a minute." Id. At this
point, the prosecutor asked the trial judge for a brief
recess and said, "I don't want to coach him."
Id. The trial court ordered a recess of ten minutes
over the objection of the Defense. Id. at 311. After
the ten-minute recess, the Defense made a motion for a
mistrial, arguing that the jury may have been compromised by
this "prejudicial occurrence" and that Thomas
should have been prepared to testify prior to coming to court
on the day of trial. Id. at 311. In response the
Your Honor, I don't think it's unusual for an
accomplice witness to get cold feet. He's worried about
his health and safety. He's worried about the health and
safety of his family. I just reminded him that-what he's
supposed to be doing here today. He needed to gird his loins
for a moment. He's prepared to testify. I don't think
a mistrial is necessary. I think that would be the strictest
sanction. I don't know that the jury has been compromised
Id. at 312. The trial court then overruled the
Defense's motion for a mistrial. Id.
Thomas then testified as to why he was "reluctant to
testify." Id. at 314. Thomas explained that,
while he was in the county jail, another inmate was attacked.
Id. Thomas identified the person who had perpetrated
this attack. Id. at 314-315. Ten months after Thomas
testified in that case, he was called a "snitch" by
another inmate who struck him in the face with "a lock
in a sock." Id. at 315-316. The force of this
blow caused scarring to his face and broke his jaw.
Id. at 315. As the result of this prior incident,
Thomas expressed concern at trial that he would be labeled a
"snitch" and would be attacked again. Id.
On cross examination, the Defense discussed several false
statements that Thomas had made to the grand jury.
Id. at 398-407. Thomas admitted that he lied to the
grand jury about his involvement in these crimes.
Id. at 401. On redirect, he testified, however, that
he did not lie to the grand jury about Randle's
involvement in these crimes. Id. at 410, 424. He
also pointed to the fact that his statements about
Randle's involvement before the grand jury were
consistent with his statements before the trial court.
Id. The Defense also questioned Thomas about his
three prior convictions, several false statements he made to
the police, his reluctance to testify at trial about
Randle's involvement, and the terms of his plea
agreement. Id. 385, 386, 394, 409-410.
The State also called several witnesses who connected Randle
and Thomas to each other on the day of the incident. Kyle J.
Hopkins was one of Thomas's neighbors and testified that
he saw Randle and Thomas together on the morning of July 22,
2016. Id. at 445. Angelo Flores then testified that
he saw Randle on Cherry Street shortly after Thomas was
arrested and that he gave Randle a ride back to Randle's
house. Id. at 439, 442. Rogers testified that Randle
and Thomas were at her house on July 22, 2016. Id.
at 427. The prosecution also introduced a recording of a
phone call that Thomas made from jail in which he speaks of
being with Randle on July 22, 2016. Id. at 361. The
prosecution also called Peggy Romine ("Romine"),
who works at the County Corrections Center, to authenticate
documents that showed Randle deposited funds into
Thomas's commissary account while Thomas was in jail.
Id. at 272-273.
On February 6, 2017, the jury found Randle guilty of
aggravated robbery in violation of R.C. 2911.01(A)(1) and
kidnapping in violation of R.C. 2905.01(A)(2). Doc. 98, 99.
Randle filed his timely notice of appeal on March 31, 2017.
Doc. 127. On appeal, Randle raises the following four
assignments of error:
First Assignment of Error
The offenses of aggravated robbery and kidnapping
should have merged in this matter.
Second Assignment of Error
In this matter, the State violated an ethical duty to
reveal that the indictment in this matter was based on
perjured testimony, demonstrate [sic] that the perjury had
been remedied before proceeding to trial, and reveal [sic]
any promises of immunity regarding such perjury.
Third Assignment of Error
The trial court improperly overruled appellant's
motion for a mistrial regarding the State's request for a
recess to bolster their witness's testimony.
Fourth Assignment of Error
The jury's decision to convict the appellant was
against the manifest weight of the evidence.
consider these assignments of error in the order in which
they were ...