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State v. Littlejohn

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

May 10, 2018


          Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-16-611347-A

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Mary Elaine Hall

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor By: Brandon Piteo Assistant Prosecuting Attorney

          BEFORE: S. Gallagher, J., E.T. Gallagher, P.J., and Jones, J.



         {¶1} Appellant Robert A. Littlejohn appeals his convictions on counts of aggravated burglary and felonious assault with associated three-year firearm specifications. Upon review, we affirm.

         {¶2} On November 15, 2016, appellant was charged under a complicity theory with one count of aggravated burglary with one- and three-year firearm specifications, seven counts of felonious assault with one- and three-year firearm specifications, and one count of having weapons while under disability. A codefendant, Rosario D. Robinson, was charged in the indictment as the principal offender. Although the indictment originally identified one victim, the trial court permitted the state to amend the indictment to reflect the names of six victims in the case. The counts otherwise remained the same. The case proceeded to a bench trial on June 5, 2017.

         {¶3} The charges arose from an incident that occurred on November 2, 2016. Testimony at trial revealed that appellant drove Robinson and another unidentified male, known only as "Brick, " to a residence in Bedford, Ohio. The victims' testimony reflected that three men entered the residence together and went into a bedroom where the victims were sitting. Appellant took "a wad" of money out of his pocket to pay for marijuana, and soon thereafter Robinson began firing multiple shots into the bedroom. Several of the victims identified Littlejohn as the second person to enter the room and the person who had the cash. They identified Robinson as the third person to enter the room, and described him as having dreadlocks and indicated he had a gun and shot multiple bullets into the room. There was some testimony to suggest that Brick also may have had a gun.

         {¶4} One of the victims who had been shot had a gun and returned fire. Appellant and Robinson were both shot. Appellant, Robinson, and Brick then left the house together, with Brick driving the two others to the hospital. Appellant directed Brick to take the vehicle to his place of work. Appellant lied to detectives about how and where he was shot, and he changed his story several times.

         {¶5} Appellant testified that he was taking the other two men to a house they directed him to because they wanted to buy drugs, that they wanted to borrow $40 from him to buy marijuana, and that he did not see a gun on anyone with him. Appellant claimed that there was a fourth person who came to the door behind Robinson and pointed a gun at Robinson's face and shot Robinson. He stated multiple shots were fired and that he was shot on his way out of the room. Appellant maintained that he and Robinson were victims.

         {¶6} Robinson also testified that a fourth person came to the door and pointed a gun at his face. He claimed that he grabbed the man's arm and was shot in the face. Robinson denied having a gun on his person and claimed that he was just there to buy marijuana.

         {¶7} The trial court granted appellant's Crim.R. 29 motion for acquittal on Count 9 for having a weapon while under disability. The motion was denied as to the other counts. The trial court found appellant guilty of Counts 1-8, and guilty of the firearm specifications attached to every count. Following merger of offenses, the trial court sentenced appellant to an aggregate prison term of 11 years.[1] Additionally, the court ordered a one-year prison term in Cuyahoga C.P. Nos. CR-15-596038-A, CR-15-596012-A, and CR-15-595441-A to be served consecutively to the 11-year term imposed in this case, for a total prison term of 12 years. The trial court also imposed fines and costs, and informed appellant of postrelease control.

         {¶8} Appellant timely filed this appeal. He raises two assignments of error for our review. Under his first assignment of error, appellant claims the trial court erred when it denied his Crim.R. 29 motion for acquittal on Counts 1-8.

         {¶9} A motion for judgment of acquittal under Crim.R. 29(A) requires a court to consider if the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction. "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 ...

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