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State v. Young

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Butler

February 26, 2018

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
BRADLEY DEAN YOUNG, Defendant-Appellant.


          Michael T. Gmoser, Butler County Prosecuting Attorney, Michael Greer, Government Services Center, 315 High Street, 11th Floor, Hamilton, Ohio 45011, for plaintiff-appellee

          Repper, Pagan, Cook, Ltd., Christopher J. Pagan, 1501 First Avenue, Middletown, Ohio 45044, for defendant-appellant


          RINGLAND, JUDGE.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Bradley Young, appeals his murder conviction in the Butler County Court of Common Pleas. For the reasons detailed below, we affirm.

         {¶ 2} On December 2, 2015, at approximately 6:00 a.m., Rebekah K. called 911 for emergency assistance with regard to her two-year-old daughter, K.K., who was not breathing. Deputy Greg Turner and several other law enforcement officials arrived at Young's residence where Young was attempting to give CPR to K.K. Deputy Turner took over for Young and began administering CPR to K.K. until the EMT squad arrived.

         {¶ 3} While life-saving efforts were ongoing, authorities made contact with Young and Rebekah. In describing the events leading to the 911 call, neither Young nor Rebekah reported that K.K. had been beaten or abused. Young, however, mentioned that he and K.K. had been in a recent car accident. Young also claimed that K.K. had recently fallen from a chair in the kitchen and that K.K. had a bump and cut on the back of her head from the faucet.

         {¶ 4} There were, however, conflicting stories about who was with K.K. immediately prior to the 911 call. Subsequent investigations revealed that Young and Rebekah had been communicating through text messages. Shortly after 7:00 a.m., Young and Rebekah sent the following messages to each other:

Young: There [sic] going to try and make us look like bad parents babe not sure how they got three different stories either Chuck[1]never said anything this is stupid.
Young: I love you and stay strong will be with.her [sic] soon
Rebekah: I know babe I love you to [sic]
Young: Just telling them she was laying with both of us in the living in the couch [sic] so they don't try and turn it around on you or me.

         {¶ 5} K.K. was transported to Atrium hospital, arriving in a state of cardio pulmonary arrest. While at Atrium, emergency personnel were able to restart K.K.'s heart and staff performed a CT scan on K.K.'s brain. Because of the seriousness of her injuries, K.K. was transported to Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

         {¶ 6} Following transportation to Cincinnati Children's, medical staff performed a second CT scan on K.K.'s brain. However, efforts to revive K.K. were unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead on December 4, 2016.

         {¶ 7} Detectives interviewed Young and Rebekah while K.K. was still in the hospital. Young maintained that he had never harmed K.K. and insisted that both he and Rebekah were with the child on the couch when she suddenly cried out and began having problems breathing. Young continued, however, to tell law enforcement about various "accidents" that had happened to K.K. Young maintained that K.K. had previously fallen off a chair, had been involved in the previously mentioned car accident, and K. K. had recently struck her head on a faucet.

         {¶ 8} On December 10, 2016, Young was indicted for involuntary manslaughter, endangering children, permitting child abuse, and murder.

         Voir Dire

         {¶ 9} On September 26, 2016, Young's case proceeded to a multiple-day jury trial. During voir dire, Juror 883 disclosed that, 41 years ago, he had been convicted of a felony drug offense in Indiana. Juror 883 indicated that he had been incarcerated for that offense for five months in the "youth center." Juror 883 continued to explain that he was released and subsequently earned an engineering degree.

         {¶ 10} Young moved to strike Juror 883 for cause under R.C. 2313.17 and R.C. 2945.25 on the basis of the former felony conviction. The state disagreed and argued that Juror 883 was eligible to serve. Following the exchange, the trial court denied Young's request to strike Juror 883 for cause. Thereafter, Young used two preemptory challenges on two other jurors, but waived any use of his remaining preemptory challenges. Therefore, Juror 883 was empaneled on the jury.


         {¶ 11} The state introduced the testimonies of various medical experts and law enforcement personnel. Deputy Turner testified about his communications with Young and Rebekah after EMTs arrived. Deputy Turner testified that he spoke with Rebekah and Young because he was concerned about bruising he observed on K.K.

         {¶ 12} Deputy Turner described Rebekah as emotional and distressed. Rebekah told Deputy Turner that K.K. had experienced a nightmare and eventually stopped breathing. Young reported the same general information to Deputy Turner.

         {¶ 13} The state called Bradley Peters, a fire lieutenant and EMT for Madison Township. EMT Peters spoke with Young and Rebekah to find out what had happened to K.K. EMT Peters stated:

[Young] stated that he was asleep alone with the child. [K.K.] was face down on his chest. At some point the child had woken up screaming, crying hysterically. [Young] stated that he thought she possibly had had a nightmare. He got up to go into a different part of the household to get the child's mother. At that point, * * * [K.K.] started breathing ineffectively and they contacted 911 to have us dispatched.

         {¶ 14} The state also called Sergeant Jamy Chaney with the Trenton Police Department. Sergeant Chaney spoke with Rebekah, who she described as "nervous, upset, concerned." Rebekah stated that K.K. had been screaming and crying, keeping her and Young awake all night. Rebekah indicated that they were holding K.K. when she went limp and stopped breathing.

         {¶ 15} Sergeant Chaney then asked Young if he knew what had happened and Young replied that K.K. had fallen from a chair in the kitchen and hit the back of her head causing a bump and a cut. Young also stated that he and K.K. had been "in a minor, like, fender bender car accident several days before."

         {¶ 16} Deputy Brian Romans from the Butler County Sheriffs Office described Rebekah as upset, "emotionally shaken, " and stuttering her words. Rebekah told Deputy Romans that K.K. had two "night terrors" that night, the first occurring approximately two hours before the last one. During the second night terror, Rebekah stated that K.K. was screaming loudly and "gasping for air." Young was holding K.K. when she stopped breathing and Young then told Rebekah to call 911.

         {¶ 17} Deputy Romans then spoke to Young. Deputy Romans testified:

[Young] went on to explain to me that they were located on the couch. He was lying on the couch with K.K. on his chest. Rebekah was in the bedroom. He stated that during that time, * * * [K.K.], had experienced a night terror that Rebekah had claimed that they were having and he woke her up, he stood up, she started crying, gasping for air, and at one point she went limp.
He stated that he walked to the bedroom to get Rebekah. He summons her to call 911 and that is when they begin CPR.

         {¶ 18} Detective Joe Ventre of the Butler County Sheriffs Office testified and authenticated several photographs of Young's hands, which were visibly cut and bruised.

         {¶ 19} On the fourth day of trial, the state called Rebekah to the stand. Rebekah testified on direct examination, and Young's counsel conducted a lengthy cross-examination. Near the end of the day, Young's counsel indicated that it still had several hours of additional cross-examination to perform and the matter was adjourned until the following day.

         {¶ 20} The next day, Young's counsel asked the trial court to hold a competency hearing for Rebekah. Rebekah was questioned by the state, Young's counsel, and the trial court. Following questioning, Young's counsel moved to strike Rebekah's testimony due to incompetency. Alternatively, Young's counsel moved for a mistrial.

         {¶ 21} The trial court determined that Rebekah was "incapable of relating just impressions of the facts truthfully" and found her incompetent to testify. The trial court then struck Rebekah's testimony and Young withdrew the request for a mistrial. The trial court then instructed the jury:

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm instructing you and I'm ordering you to disregard the testimony of [Rebekah]. Now, I appreciate that that's a difficult concept to disregard something that you've actually heard. The Court cannot instruct you to delete something from your mind of what you've actually heard. What I'm ordering you to do is, if somehow you should remember anything that [Rebekah] testified to, you're instructed to disregard it.
For example, say to yourself, I cannot consider or be influenced by that in any way or for any purpose. Obviously that testimony must not be mentioned or otherwise be made part of your deliberations. Understood? ...

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