United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
JERRY J. EACHOLES, Petitioner,
WARDEN, SOUTHEASTERN CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION, Respondent.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Gregory Wehrman, United States Magistrate Judge
an inmate in state custody at the Southeastern Correctional
Institution, through counsel, has filed a petition for a writ
of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. This
matter is before the Court on the petition, respondent's
return of writ, and petitioner's reply. (Docs. 1, 5, 13).
For the reasons stated below, the undersigned recommends that
the petition be denied.
December 6, 2012, the Butler County, Ohio grand jury returned
an eight-count indictment charging petitioner with one count
each of murder, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, and
having weapon under disability. (Doc. 5, Ex. 1). The murder,
aggravated burglary, and aggravated robbery all contained
filed a motion to dismiss the firearm specifications, arguing
that he could not be found guilty of the specifications on a
theory of complicity. (Doc. 5, Ex. 2). On July 24, 2013, the
trial court denied petitioner's motion. (Doc. 5, Ex. 3).
case proceeded to trial. Petitioner filed a Rule 29 motion
for acquittal, which was denied by the trial court.
(See Doc. 5, Ex. 10, ¶12). Petitioner was
subsequently found guilty of murder, aggravated burglary, and
aggravated robbery. (Doc. 5, Ex. 6). The jury found
petitioner not guilty on the firearm specifications and the
charge of having weapons while under disability. On October
21, 2013, petitioner was sentenced to prison terms of fifteen
years to life for the murder conviction and ten years for the
aggravated burglary conviction, to be served consecutively.
(See id.). The trial court merged the aggravated
robbery conviction for the purpose of sentencing upon finding
that it was an allied offense of similar import to murder,
resulting in a total aggregate prison sentence of twenty-five
years to life in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and
through counsel, filed a timely notice of appeal to the Ohio
Court of Appeals. (Doc. 5, Ex. 7). Petitioner raised the
following two assignments of error in his appellate brief:
1. The trial court erred to the prejudice of appellant by
permitting the introduction of co-conspirator hearsay
statements without the State presenting independent proof of
2. The State's evidence was constitutionally insufficient
to support convictions for murder, aggravated burglary, and
(Doc. 5, Ex. 8). On September 15, 2014, the Ohio Court of
Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court. (Doc. 5,
December 17, 2014, petitioner filed a “notice of pro-se
appearance, ” indicating that petitioner would
represent himself in all future pleadings. (Doc. 5, Ex. 11).
Petitioner also requested that the appeals court grant him an
extension of time to file an application to reopen his appeal
pursuant to Ohio App. R. 26(B) and to order his appellate
counsel to provide him with transcripts. (See Doc.
5, Ex. 12). The court denied petitioner's motions on
December 29, 2014. (Doc. 5, Ex. 15).
on October 28, 2014, petitioner, through counsel, filed a
timely notice of appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court. (Doc. 5,
Ex. 16). In his memorandum in support of jurisdiction,
petitioner raised the following two propositions of law:
I. Co-conspirator statements are inadmissible under Evid.R.
801(D)(2)(e), and violate a Defendant's Constitutional
Rights to Due Process, Confrontation and a Fair Trial.
II. The bare testimony of a convicted felon that a defendant
conspired with her and others to commit those felonies is
insufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he
was guilty of those felonies in the complete absence of any
evidence that he planned, participated in, or assisted the
others in any manner.
(Doc. 5, Ex. 17). On March 11, 2015, the Ohio Supreme Court
declined to accept jurisdiction of the appeal. (Doc. 5, Ex.
through counsel, filed the instant federal habeas corpus
action. (Doc. 1).
raises one ground for relief in the petition:
GROUND ONE: The State elicited insufficient
evidence to convict Eacholes of complicity to murder,
complicity to burglary, and complicity to aggravated robbery.
Specifically, there was insufficient evidence to show that
Eacholes acted to purposely facilitate the murder, burglary,
and aggravated robbery. There was insufficient evidence to
show that Eacholes knew that his co-defendants possessed guns
for use in the offenses. And there was insufficient evidence
to show that Eacholes had foreknowledge of the guns used by
co-defendants in the offenses.
(Doc. 1 at PageID 2).
has filed a return of writ in opposition to the petition.
(Doc. 5). According to respondent, petitioner's sole
ground for relief is without merit.
August 4, 2016, petitioner filed a traverse and motion to
submit a state-law question to the Ohio Supreme
Court. (Doc. 12). The Court denied the motion on
March 29, 2017. (Doc. 15).
THE PETITION SHOULD BE DENIED
federal habeas case, the applicable standard of review
governing the adjudication of constitutional issues raised by
petitioner to the state courts is set forth in 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(d). Under that provision, a writ of habeas corpus
may not issue with respect to any ...