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State v. Daniels

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Stark

August 5, 2019

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
WILLIE CARL DANIELS Defendant-Appellant

          Criminal appeal from the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2018CR0551

         JUDGMENT: Affirmed.

          For Plaintiff-Appellee JOHN D. FERRERO, BY: KRISTINE BEARD.

          For Defendant-Appellant WAYNE GRAHAM, JR.

          JUDGES: Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P.J. Hon. William B. Hoffman, J. Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, J.

          OPINION

          GWIN, P.J.

         {¶1} Appellant Willie Carl Daniels ["Daniels"] appeals his convictions and sentences after a jury trial in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas.

         Facts and Procedural History

         {¶2} On March 15, 2018, Icies Fragasse, (Icies) was preparing to move into her first apartment. At around 6:00 P.M. Icies's family and friend's arrived to help her paint. The friends and family present that evening included Icies's mother, Gretchen Fragasse (Gretchen), Icies's brother, Micha Fragasse (Micha), Micha's friend, John Sankey aka Mills (John), and Icies's aunt, Jennifer Stone (Jennifer).

         {¶3} While Gretchen and Icies were painting the living room, they heard loud music and arguing in the alley next to the building. Gretchen looked out the window, and saw a woman in a white SUV and a man nearby. Later, Gretchen saw the man carry a basket of laundry back to the truck. Icies and Gretchen did not know the couple. Minding their own business, they went back to painting.

         {¶4} Gretchen testified that as she was painting, a man kicked in the front door. Micha approached the man and said, "who are you?" "What are you doing" "Get out of my sister's house." The man grabbed Micha and Micha struggled to push the man out the door. John attempted to help Micha in the struggle. As the two men struggled to push the man out of the apartment, Gretchen heard three gun shots-"pop, pop, pop." Not realizing she had been shot in the leg, Gretchen ran toward the door to help her son, Micha. When Gretchen reached the door, she looked right at the man doing the shooting. She recognized him as the man in the alley by the white SUV. Micha crawled back into the house saying, "I was shot mom, it's burning, I'm thirsty." Gretchen saw a bullet wound in Micha's stomach and blood pouring through Micha's hands.

         {¶5} Icies ran into the kitchen and saw the man calmly walk past the front door and briefly look inside the apartment. Icies then saw John in the alleyway. She testified that John's shoulder was bleeding and he could not use his arm. She saw John collapse in a puddle of his own blood. Icies testified that it looked like blood was "tumbling out of his [John's] body." Icies testified that Micha was bleeding as much as John and that her mother's leg was bleeding. Jennifer called the police who arrived quickly.

         {¶6} Christopher McCartney (McCartney), an employee of Timken Steel, was working that evening and was driving near 15th Street. McCartney testified that he heard gunshots and saw a white SUV speeding away from the area. He followed the vehicle as far as 18th Street, was unable to get the license plate number, but called the company to report the incident.

         {¶7} Canton Patrol Officers Krug, Lott and Slone, and Canton Detective Mongold were dispatched to the shooting scene. Officer Krug observed John laying in the alley, near the apartment, in a pool of blood. Officer Krug briefly spoke with John and continued to the residence. Inside the residence, he observed Micha who had been shot in the stomach, spoke with Gretchen and observed that she had puncture wounds to her leg and foot. Body cam video from the responding officers depicting the scene was played for the jury.

         {¶8} Canton Police Officer Randy Weirich, assigned to the crime scene unit, arrived to collect evidence, take photographs, and process the scene. The photographs depicted the condition of the apartment including the damage to the front door, large amounts of blood, and tire tracks in the alley directly behind the building. Officer Weirich did not recover any bullets or shell casings at the scene. Officer Weirich then went to the hospital and took photographs of John and Gretchen's injuries. Micha was unavailable. Officer Weirich testified that Gretchen and John's injuries were consistent with gunshot wounds, likely from a large caliber handgun. No firearm was recovered.

         {¶9} Officer Slone spoke with Gretchen and learned that the suspect had been driving a white SUV. After speaking with nearby residents he learned that the newest resident in the building was a Willie Daniels, I, Daniels's father. Officer Slone subsequently contacted the BMV and requested a list of white SUVs in Stark County. The BMV information identified Aaron Smith as the owner of a white SUV in Stark County. Officer Slone also learned that Daniels had been issued two traffic citations while he was driving Aaron Smith's white SUV and that the vehicle had temporary tags.

         {¶10} Both Detective Mongold and Officer Slone identified Daniels as the suspect. Following the police department's procedures and protocols, Detective Mongold used the information to prepare a photo line-up with Daniels' picture to be shown to Gretchen and Icies.

         {¶11} Meanwhile, using CJIS, Officer Slone located a resident address for Willie Daniels. The next day, officers went to the residence to see if they could find the white SUV. While at the residence officers observed a white GMC Jimmy with temporary tags pull up. They observed Daniels was in the driver's seat and a white female was in the passenger's seat. Daniels was arrested for the shooting without incident.

         {¶12} Detective Mongold prepared the photo line-ups for Gretchen and Icies. Detective Mongold testified that an officer unfamiliar with the investigation oversaw the photo-line up reviews. He also testified that witnesses are asked to rank photos in a range from one to five, one being least likely to be the suspect and five being a positive identification. After observing the random photos, Icies positively identified Daniels as a number five as the perpetrator. Gretchen ranked two photos as a four. One of the photos ranked as a four was ...


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