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State v. Coleman

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Summit

May 16, 2018

STATE OF OHIO Appellee
v.
CHARLES D. COLEMAN Appellant

          APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF SUMMIT, OHIO CASE Nos. CR 2016 10 3554 (B) CR 2016 05 1716 (B)

          APPEARANCES: KANI HARVEY HIGHTOWER, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          SHERRI BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and JACQUENETTE S. CORGAN, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          THOMAS A. TEODOSIO, JUDGE

         {¶1} Appellant, Charles D. Coleman, appeals from his convictions in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas. This Court affirms, but remands the matter for the trial court to issue a nunc pro tunc judgment entry.

         I.

         {¶2} In May of 2016, R.M. wanted to trade food stamps for heroin, so a female acquaintance connected him to an individual who was willing to facilitate an exchange. Mr. Coleman and two others ("Terrance" and "Anthony") arrived at R.M.'s residence and forced him go with them to a nearby Save-a-Lot store while they used his food stamp card. The men all traveled to the store together in one vehicle, and two of them went inside to buy food with R.M.'s food stamp card. Afterward, they drove to a turnaround at the end of a road and all three men physically attacked R.M. He managed to escape and locate a nearby Stow police officer that the men had just recently passed on the road. The officer soon located and stopped the vehicle as it came back down the road from the turnaround and eventually arrested all four men, including R.M. Mr. Coleman was indicted on a felony charge of illegal use of food stamps or WIC program benefits as well as misdemeanor assault.

         {¶3} In October of 2016, an Akron police officer was dispatched to investigate a suspicious vehicle parked in the entrance to a parking lot with three men inside. Terrance was in the driver's seat, Anthony was the front passenger seat, and Mr. Coleman was in the rear seat, directly behind the driver. Anthony was arrested on an active warrant and he admitted that there was a gun under his seat. After Terrance and Mr. Coleman were removed from the vehicle, officers located Anthony's gun as well as another loaded gun stashed deep down in the map pocket behind the driver's seat. Mr. Coleman was indicted on a felony charge of improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle.

         {¶4} Mr. Coleman waived his right to a jury trial and both matters proceeded to a bench trial. The trial court found him guilty of all three offenses and sentenced him to two years of community control.

         {¶5} Mr. Coleman now appeals from his convictions and raises two assignments of error for this Court's review. Although he appealed both of his criminal cases separately, this Court consolidated the two appeals, as both cases were tried together in the trial court.

         II.

         {¶6} Before addressing Mr. Coleman's assignments of error, we must first address an error brought to this Court's attention by the State, regarding the trial court's judgment entry and Mr. Coleman's conviction for improper handling. Mr. Coleman was convicted of improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle under R.C. 2923.16(B), which is undeniably a felony of the fourth degree. See R.C. 2923.16(I) ("A violation of division (B) of this section is a felony of the fourth degree"). A review of the record reveals that the charge was properly indicted as a felony of the fourth degree and that Mr. Coleman was found guilty at trial of a felony of the fourth degree. During his sentencing hearing, the trial court properly sentenced Mr. Coleman for a felony of the fourth degree. However, the court's judgment entry contains a clerical error as it mistakenly refers to the offense as a felony of the fifth degree. As it is clear from the record that this is simply a clerical error, we must remand the matter for the trial court to issue a nunc pro tunc judgment entry to reflect that Mr. Coleman was found guilty of improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle under R.C. 2923.16(B), a felony of the fourth degree. See State v. Higgins, 9th Dist. Summit No. 27700, 2018-Ohio-476, ¶ 21.

         {¶7} We now turn to the merits of Mr. Coleman's assignments of error.

ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR ONE
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED AS A MATTER OF LAW AND DENIED THE DEFENDANT HIS CONSTITUTIONAL DUE PROCESS RIGHTS WHEN IT FAILED TO SUSTAIN THE DEFENDANT'S CRIM.R. 29 MOTIONS FOR ACQUITTAL BASED ON INSUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE

         {¶8} In his first assignment of error, Mr. Coleman argues that his convictions are based on insufficient evidence and the trial court erred in not granting his Crim.R. 29 motion for acquittal. We disagree.

         {¶9} "We review a denial of a defendant's Crim.R. 29 motion for acquittal by assessing the sufficiency of the State's evidence." State v. Frashuer, 9th Dist. Summit No. 24769, 2010-Ohio-634, ¶ 33. "A sufficiency challenge of a criminal conviction presents a question of law, which we review de novo." State v. Spear, 9th Dist. Summit No. 28181, 2017-Ohio-169, ¶ 6, citing State v. Thompkins,78 Ohio St.3d 380, 386 (1997). "Sufficiency concerns the burden of production and tests whether the prosecution presented adequate evidence for the case to go to the jury." State v. Bressi, 9th Dist. Summit No. 27575, 2016-Ohio-5211, ¶ 25, citing Thompkins at 386. "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 doubt." Id., quoting State v. Jenks,61 Ohio St.3d 259 (1991), paragraph two of the syllabus. ...


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