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State v. Walton

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

May 17, 2018

STATE OF OHIO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
KAREEM WALTON DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

          Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-16-607989-A

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Stephen L. Miles, Also Listed Kareem Walton

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor BY: Blaise D. Thomas Kerry A. Sowul Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys.

          BEFORE: Celebrezze, J., S. Gallagher, P.J., and Keough, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          FRANK D. CELEBREZZE, JR., J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant, Kareem Walton ("appellant"), brings the instant appeal challenging his guilty plea and the sentence imposed by the trial court. Appellant's attorney, pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 87 S.Ct.1396, 18 L.Ed.2d 493 (1967), filed a motion to withdraw as counsel and dismiss the appeal. After a thorough examination of the record, we affirm the trial court's judgment and grant appointed counsel's motion to withdraw.

         I. Factual and Procedural History

         {¶2} The instant matter arose from a July 9, 2016 incident during which appellant crashed his vehicle into a tree in the Glenville neighborhood on Cleveland's east side. Five victims were injured during the crash, and three of the five victims died from the injuries they sustained.

         {¶3} On July 26, 2016, in Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-16-607989-A, appellant was indicted with three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, second-degree felonies in violation of R.C. 2903.06(A)(1)(a); three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, third-degree felonies in violation of R.C. 2903.06(A)(2)(a); two counts of aggravated vehicular assault, third-degree felonies in violation of R.C. 2903.08(A)(1)(a); two counts of aggravated vehicular assault, fourth-degree felonies in violation of R.C. 2903.08(A)(2)(b); and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a first-degree misdemeanor in violation of R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(a).

         {¶4} The parties reached a plea agreement. On June 13, 2017, appellant pled guilty to the indictment. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Counts 1, 2, and 3 would merge with Counts 4, 5, and 6 for sentencing purposes; Counts 7 and 8 would merge with Counts 9 and 10. Furthermore, the state agreed to advocate for a sentence that did not exceed 25 years in prison.

         {¶5} On June 16, 2017, the trial court sentenced appellant to an aggregate 25-year prison term. The state elected to sentence appellant on Counts 1, 2, 3, 7, and 8. The trial court sentenced appellant to six years on Counts 1, 2, and 3; three years on Count 7; four years on Count 8; and time served on Count 11. The trial court ordered Counts 1, 2, 3, 7, and 8 to run consecutively. The trial court ordered appellant's 25-year prison sentence to run concurrently with his three-year prison sentence in Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-16-607990-A.[1]

         {¶6} On August 9, 2017, appellant, acting pro se, filed an appeal challenging the trial court's judgment and a motion for appointment of appellate counsel. On August 24, 2017, this court granted appellant's motion and appointed counsel to represent appellant.

         {¶7} On December 3, 2017, appointed counsel filed an Anders brief and a motion for leave to withdraw as counsel. Therein, appointed counsel identified two potential issues to raise on appeal: (1) whether appellant knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily pled guilty; and (2) did the trial court abuse its discretion in imposing consecutive sentences.[2] Counsel ultimately determined that proceeding with an appeal relating to appellant's guilty plea or the trial court's sentence would be frivolous.

         {¶8} On December 4, 2017, this court held counsel's motion to withdraw in abeyance pending an independent review of the record. This court ordered appellant to file a pro se brief before January 18, 2018.

         {¶9} Appellant filed a pro se appellate brief on February 20, 2018. Therein, he raised two assignments of error:

I. The [s]tate breached the plea agreement it had entered into with [appellant] when, during sentencing, the [s]tate asked that the maximum consecutive sentence be imposed, in violation of [appellant's] Due Process protections under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 10 of the Ohio Constitution.
II. The trial court erred, and violated Hand, in using [appellant's] juvenile record in support of imposing greater than minimum sentences and in support of imposing consecutive sentences, in violation of his Due Process protections under the Fourteenth Amendment to the ...

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