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State v. Lewis

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Logan

July 29, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
JASMINE D. LEWIS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

          Appeal from Logan County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No. CR 17 06 0180

          Kort Gatterdam and David F. Hanson for Appellant

          Eric C. Stewart for Appellee

          OPINION

          WILLAMOWSKI, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Jasmine D. Lewis ("Lewis") appeals the judgment of the Logan County Court of Common Pleas, alleging that that trial court erred in dismissing her petition for postconviction relief ("petition"). For the reasons set forth below, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

         Facts and Procedural History

         {¶2} On June 13, 2017, Lewis was indicted on one count of complicity to aggravated burglary in violation of R.C. 2911.11(A)(1), R.C. 2923.03; one count of complicity to aggravated robbery in violation of R.C. 2911.01(A)(1), R.C. 2923.03; and one count of complicity to murder in violation of R.C. 2903.02, R.C. 2923.03. Doc. 1. These charges came with a firearm specification. Doc. 1. On June 19, 2017, Lewis pled not guilty to these charges. Doc. 10.

         {¶3} On August 14, 2017, Lewis appeared before the trial court for a change of plea hearing. Change of Plea Hearing Tr. 1. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the State offered to dismiss the charge of complicity to aggravated burglary, the charge of complicity to aggravated robbery, and the firearm specification if Lewis agreed to plead guilty to one count of complicity to murder in violation of R.C. 2903.02. Change of Plea Hearing Tr. 3, 14. Doc. 55, 56. The penalty for the offense of complicity to murder is set forth in R.C. 2929.02(B)(1), which reads, in its relevant part, as follows:

whoever is convicted of or pleads guilty to murder in violation of section 2903.02 of the Revised Code shall be imprisoned for an indefinite term of fifteen years to life.

R.C. 2929.02(B)(1).

         {¶4} At her change of plea hearing, the trial court explained the penalty for her crime in the following colloquy:

The Court: The offense carries with it a maximum fine of $15, 000. It is a life sentence with eligibility for parole after 15 years. Do you understand the maximum sentence?
[Lewis]: Yes, sir.

         Change of Plea Hearing Tr. at 9. (Emphasis added.) Lewis subsequently pled guilty to one count of complicity to murder in violation of R.C. 2903.02. Doc. 56. The trial court then found Lewis guilty and ordered a presentence investigation ("PSI"). Change of Plea Hearing Tr. 14. Doc. 56.

         {¶5} On September 21, 2017, Lewis appeared before the trial court for sentencing. Sentencing Hearing Tr. 1. At this hearing, defense counsel stated the following:

And the agreed-upon plea is 15 years to life. We would ask for a lesser amount if the Court can see fit so that she may possibly entertain the possibility of parole at an earlier date.

(Emphasis added.) Id. at 5. The trial court then sentenced Lewis to a term of life in prison with parole eligibility after fifteen years. Doc. 58.

         {¶6} On October 24, 2017, Lewis filed her direct appeal with this Court. Doc. 69. In this previous appeal, Lewis argued "that her counsel was ineffective for not informing her that she could not get a sentence lower than life in prison with parole eligibility after fifteen years." State v. Lewis, 3d Dist. Logan No. 8-17-43, 2018-Ohio-1911, ¶ 6. The Supreme Court of Ohio has applied the Strickland test for ineffective assistance of counsel in the context of guilty pleas. State v. Xie, 62 Ohio St.3d 521, 524, 584 N.E.2d 715 (1992), citing Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984). In such a situation, "a defendant must show that (1) counsel's performance was deficient, and (2) there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's errors, the defendant would not have pled guilty." State v. Conley, 3d Dist. Marion No. 9-16-10, 2016-Ohio-8408, ¶ 10, citing Xie at 524.

         {¶7} To substantiate this claim, Lewis pointed to the fact that her defense counsel asked the trial court for a sentence that would allow for Lewis to be eligible for parole before she had served fifteen years when R.C. 2929.02(B)(1) mandates "an indefinite term of fifteen years to life." R.C. 2929.02(B)(1). Thus, this request was predicated on an erroneous understanding of the law. Lewis asserted that her attorney had promised her that she could receive a sentence of less than fifteen years in prison. She further claimed that she would not have pled guilty if ...


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