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State v. Amey

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

May 24, 2018

STATE OF OHIO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
RICHARD R. AMEY DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

         Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-16-604041-A

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT John T. Castele

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor By: Maxwell Martin Assistant County Prosecutor

          BEFORE: Laster Mays, J., Kilbane, P.J., and S. Gallagher, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          ANITA LASTER MAYS, JUDGE

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Richard R. Amey ("Amey") appeals his conviction for voluntary manslaughter and asks this court to reverse his conviction and remand to the trial court for a new trial. We vacate and remand.

         {¶2} Amey was indicted on two counts of murder, a first-degree felony, in violation of R.C. 2903.02(A) and (B); two counts of felonious assault, first-degree felonies, in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(1) and (2); voluntary manslaughter, a first- degree felony, in violation of R.C. 2903.03(A); tampering with evidence, a third- degree felony, in violation of R.C. 2921.12(A)(1); and having weapons while under disability, a third-degree felony, in violation of R.C. 2913.13(A)(2) and 2913.13(A)(3). All of the counts, with the exception of having weapons while under disability, carried one- and three-year firearm specifications.

         {¶3} At the end of a bench trial, the trial court found Amey guilty of voluntary manslaughter and both counts of having weapons while under disability, and not guilty of the other charges. Amey was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for voluntary manslaughter, three years imprisonment for the firearm specification, and three years for having weapons while under disability, which was to be served concurrently to the seven years for voluntary manslaughter. The trial court ordered a total of ten years imprisonment.

         I. Facts

         {¶4} On February 25, 2016, at the Garden Valley apartment complex, Amey and the victim, La'Dale Davis ("Davis") got into a physical altercation. Davis attacked Amey while Amey was walking with Davis's ex-girlfriend, Janice Gresham ("Gresham"). One of the apartment security officers testified that he saw Davis pounding on Amey, and despite him and the other officer telling Davis to stop, Davis would not stop. The officers tried using pepper spray on Davis, but that did not stop Davis from beating Amey. The officers eventually had to pull Davis off of Amey. After the altercation, Amey left the scene.

         {¶5} Around 12:30 a.m., Gresham called Amey over to Shatwoyne Range's ("Range") apartment. After being at the apartment for a while, Amey decided to walk Gresham to her apartment. While inside the building complex, they were confronted by Davis again. Davis was waiting in Graham's stairwell. Davis and Gresham began arguing, and Davis instructed Gresham to enter her apartment and retrieve items that he gave her while they were dating. Gresham's mother, whom she shared her apartment with, barricaded the door after hearing the altercation. Gresham convinced her mother to remove the barricade and allow her to enter.

         {¶6} At this time, Davis forced his way into the apartment and began throwing things around. Amey remained outside of the apartment. Gresham left the apartment and started down the steps when Davis grabbed and punched her in the side of the head causing her to fall on the stairs. Gresham screamed and ran back into the apartment and closed the door. Shortly thereafter, Gresham heard two gunshots and went back outside of the apartment. She saw Davis lying on the steps, and Amey was no longer there.

         {¶7} After the police interviewed Gresham and her mother, they arrested Amey and brought him in for an interview. During the interview, Amey told police that Davis tried to attack him again on the stairs. Amey also stated that Davis told him that he was going to kill him. At that point, Amey pulled his gun and fired twice. One bullet hit Davis and killed him.

         {¶8} Amey was charged with seven counts including murder, felonious assault, voluntary manslaughter, tampering with evidence, and having weapons while under disability. The trial court found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter and having weapons while under disability. While rendering the verdict, the trial court reasoned that Amey was not guilty of murder because he did not purposefully kill Davis. The trial court also found Amey not guilty of felonious assault because it reasoned that Amey did not knowingly cause physical harm to Davis. Amey was sentenced to ten years imprisonment.

         {¶9} Amey filed this appeal, assigning two errors for our review:

I. The state failed to prove sufficient evidence as to each and every necessary element to prove the offense of voluntary manslaughter; and
II. The defendant's conviction for voluntary manslaughter was against the manifest weight of the evidence.

         II. Sufficient and Manifest Weight of the Evidence

         {¶10} In Amey's assignment of errors, he argues that there was not sufficient evidence to prove he committed voluntary manslaughter. He also contends that his conviction for voluntary manslaughter was against the manifest weight the evidence.

When an appellate court reviews a record upon a sufficiency challenge, '"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.'" State v. Leonard, 104 Ohio St.3d 54, 2004 Ohio 6235, 818 N.E.2d 229, ¶ 77, quoting State v. Jenks, 61 Ohio St.3d 259, 574 N.E.2d 492 (1991), paragraph two of the syllabus.
In reviewing a claim challenging the manifest weight of the evidence, [t]he question to be answered * * * is whether there is substantial evidence upon which a jury could reasonably conclude that all the elements have been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. In conducting this review, we must examine the entire record, weigh the evidence and all reasonable inferences, consider the credibility of the witnesses, and determine whether the jury clearly lost its way and created such a manifest miscarriage of justice that the conviction must be reversed and a new trial ordered. (Internal quotes and citations omitted.) Leonard at ¶ 81.

State v. Walker, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 97648, 2012-Ohio-4274, ¶ 33-34.

         {¶11} Amey's specifically argues that there was no proof he acted knowingly in the killing of Davis. R.C. ...


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