FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF
LORAIN, OHIO CASE Nos. 92CR041558 92CR041574
JAMES SLAUGHTER, PRO SE, APPELLANT.
P. WILL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY, AND NICHOLAS A. BONAMINIO,
ASSISTANT PROSECUTING ATTORNEY, FOR APPELLEE.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
JENNIFER HENSAL JUDGE.
Kevin James Slaughter appeals from the judgment of the Lorain
County Court of Common Pleas, denying his motion for
resentencing. This Court affirms.
In 1993, Mr. Slaughter pleaded guilty to aggravated murder
and aggravated robbery. The trial court accepted Mr.
Slaughter's pleas and sentenced him to life imprisonment
with parole eligibility after 30 years for aggravated murder,
and "10 to 25 years imposed as actual
incarceration" for aggravated robbery. The trial court
ordered the sentences to run consecutively. Mr. Slaughter did
not file a direct appeal. He subsequently filed three motions
to withdraw his guilty pleas, all of which were denied, and
all of which he did not appeal.
On February 15, 2018, Mr. Slaughter filed a "Motion to
Resentence[, ]" challenging his 30-year sentence for
aggravated murder on the basis that the trial court failed to
sentence him pursuant to statute. Specifically, he argued
that the trial court erred by sentencing him to a minimum
term of 30 years, as opposed to the statutorily required 30
"full" years, which renders his sentence contrary
to law and void. Mr. Slaughter's motion was precipitated
by the fact that the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and
Correction ("ODRC") denied him good-time credit,
treating him as if the trial court sentenced him to 30
"full" years. The trial court denied Mr.
Slaughter's motion. He has appealed, raising one
assignment of error for our review.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED AS A MATTER OF LAW WHEN IT DENIED
SLAUGHTER'S MOTION TO BE RESENTENCED TO CORRECT SENTENCE
PURSUANT TO FORMER R.C. 2929.03(C)(2).
In his sole assignment of error, Mr. Slaughter argues that
the omission of the word "full" from his sentence
renders it void and, therefore, not subject to res judicata.
Accordingly, he argues that the trial court erred by denying
his motion for resentencing. This Court disagrees.
We begin our review by noting that "[m]ost sentencing
challenges must be brought by a timely direct appeal."
State v. Ibn-Ford, 9th Dist. Summit No. 27380,
2015-Ohio-753, ¶ 7, citing State v. Holdcroft,
137 Ohio St.3d 526, 2013-Ohio-5014, ¶ 8. "Res
judicata 'bars the assertion of claims against a valid,
final judgment of conviction that have been raised or could
have been raised on appeal.'" State v.
Marbury, 9th Dist. Summit No. 26889, 2013-Ohio-5306,
¶ 5, quoting State v. Ketterer, 126 Ohio St.3d
448, 2010-Ohio-3831, ¶ 59. "A void sentence,
however, may be challenged at any time."
Ibn-Ford at ¶ 7. "A void sentence is one
that a court imposes despite lacking subject-matter
jurisdiction or the authority to act." State v.
Payne, 114 Ohio St.3d 502, 2007-Ohio-4642, ¶ 27. As
the Ohio Supreme Court has explained, "[a]ny attempt by
a court to disregard statutory requirements when imposing a
sentence renders the attempted sentence a nullity or
void." State v. Beasley, 14 Ohio St.3d 74, 75
As previously noted, Mr. Slaughter argues that his sentence
is void because the trial court disregarded the statutory
requirement of sentencing him to 30 "full" years
for aggravated murder. See R.C. 2929.03(C)(2)(a)(i).
In support of his position, Mr. Slaughter relies upon the
Tenth District's decision in State v. Berry,
10th Dist. Franklin No. 08AP-762, 2009-Ohio-1557. There,
"[t]he trial court imposed a sentence of 30 years to
life on the aggravated murder counts, which the trial court
stated was to be 'actual' incarceration[.]"
Id. at ¶ 3. Because the ODRC "was treating
[the defendant] as if he were eligible to receive good time
credit that would allow him to be considered for parole prior
to completion of his sentence[, ]" the State moved for
resentencing, arguing that "the court's omission of
the word 'full' from its sentencing entry rendered
the sentence void." Id. at ¶ 6. Without
holding a new sentencing hearing, the trial court issued an
amended judgment entry wherein it replaced the word
"actual" with "full" in describing the
defendant's 30-years-to-life sentence for aggravated
murder. Id. at ...