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State v. Taylor

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Summit

July 25, 2018

STATE OF OHIO Appellee
v.
FRED TAYLOR, JR. Appellant

          APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. CR-2016-07-2358

          ALAN M. MEDVICK, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

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

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          LYNNE S. CALLAHAN, JUDGE.

         {¶1} Fred Taylor, Jr. appeals from his convictions in the Summit County Common Pleas Court. This Court affirms.

         I.

         {¶2} On Memorial Day 2016, Mr. Taylor was at a cookout at an apartment complex on Nadia Court in Akron, commonly referred to as the Rosemary Apartments. There were multiple cookouts occurring at the apartment complex that day. The cookout that Mr. Taylor attended included the victim, Javon Knaff, and two witnesses who testified at trial, D.H.-B. and T.O.

         {¶3} At some point during the evening, D.H.-B. observed Mr. Taylor and Mr. Knaff "bickering" over a cigarette. Later, D.H.-B. saw Mr. Taylor and Mr. Knaff in a group in the parking lot. At that point, Mr. Knaff was talking loudly and there appeared to be "[s]omewhat" of a problem. D.H.-B. testified that she was not paying a lot of attention to the group because she was on her cell phone. But when she heard a gunshot, she looked up. She then saw Mr. Taylor fire more shots at Mr. Knaff. Mr. Knaff ran around the parking lot screaming, "'I got shot. He tried to kill me.'" When he got to D.H.-B., he fell on her. He was crying as he told her, "'I don't want to die'" and asked her to call his mother. D.H.-B. applied pressure to Mr. Knaff s wounds in an attempt to stop the bleeding.

         {¶4} T.O. testified that 10 to 15 adults attended the cookout. She observed both Mr. Taylor and Mr. Knaff together, but did not see them argue. She was inside preparing plates for children when the gunshots occurred.

         {¶5} Police received the call for shots fired shortly before 8:00 p.m. Officers Christopher Carson, Jeremy Sosenko, Justin Brumbaugh, and Kyle Walter were the first responders to the scene. Officer Sosenko asked Mr. Knaff who shot him. Rather than answer the question, Mr. Knaff "just kept saying[, ] 'I'm dying.'" Officer Brumbaugh took over applying pressure to Mr. Knaff s wounds until paramedics arrived. During this time, Mr. Knaff just kept repeating "'don't let me die.'"

         {¶6} An ambulance arrived within minutes. A paramedic testified that Mr. Knaff was alert and oriented. He further testified that, during the ambulance ride, Mr. Knaff appeared scared and anxious and was asking "a lot if he was going to die." The paramedic indicated that the wounds appeared to be life-threatening.

         {¶7} Officer Walter rode in the ambulance to the hospital. Mr. Knaff told him his name, date of birth, and social security number. Mr. Knaff also told Officer Walter, "Fred shot [me]." At the hospital, Mr. Knaff was taken into surgery and died at 9:59 p.m.

         {¶8} That same night, shots were fired at the house of Mr. Taylor's mother. Mr. Taylor fled the state. The next month, Mr. Taylor ran from a traffic stop in West Virginia. When he was apprehended, he gave police a false name, date of birth, and social security number. Police ultimately uncovered his identity through a photograph and fingerprints.

         {¶9} Mr. Taylor was indicted for murder in violation of R.C. 2903.02(A) ("purposeful murder"), murder in violation of R.C. 2903.02(B) ("felony murder"), felonious assault in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(1), felonious assault in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(2), and having a weapon under disability in violation of R.C. 2923.13(A)(2). The murder and felonious assault counts also included firearm specifications. Following a jury trial, Mr. Taylor was found not guilty of the purposeful murder charge and guilty of the remainder of the charges. The court merged the felonious assaults and associated firearm specifications into the felony-murder conviction and its associated firearm specification. The court sentenced Mr. Taylor to 15 years to life for murder, 3 consecutive years for the firearm specification, and 3 concurrent years for having a weapon under disability.

         {¶10} Mr. Taylor appeals, raising three assignments of error.

         II.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 1

         THE TRIAL COURT ERRED TO THE PREJUDICE OF MR. TAYLOR BY ADMITTING THE HEARSAY ...


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