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State v. Talbert

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton

August 7, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RANDOLPH TALBERT, Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal From: Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas TRIAL NO. B-1506966

         Judgment Appealed From Is: Affirmed

          Joseph T. Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, and Alex Scott Havlin, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Plaintiff-Appellee,

          Raymond L. Katz, for Defendant-Appellant.

          OPINION.

          MYERS, JUDGE.

         {¶1} Randolph Talbert appeals his conviction, following a jury trial, for the murder of Raj-Paul Doughty. Because we find that the conviction was supported by the manifest weight of the evidence, no prosecutorial misconduct occurred, Talbert was not denied the effective assistance of counsel, and the trial court committed no plain error, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Background Facts

         {¶2} On December 11, 2015, Doughty was shot to death inside the men's room at Lamarr's Lounge, a club in Lincoln Heights.

         {¶3} Shortly after midnight, Doughty entered the men's room and greeted the only other occupant, Jason Rutherford, who was standing at a mirror. Doughty walked into the single, doorless, stall and stood at the toilet. Then, according to Rutherford, within a few seconds, "somebody busted the door and had a gun. I heard a shot. I ducked down and ran." Rutherford said he heard another shot as he ran out of the restroom. At trial, Rutherford did not identify Talbert, whom he knew as "Noggie," as the shooter. And he denied that he had told a police detective that Talbert was the person who had entered the restroom with a gun. Rutherford's statement to police, after he was told Talbert had been arrested, was, "Somebody busted, I guess - - Noggie, or whoever, bust through the door."

         {¶4} Adrian Williams, a promoter at the club, was standing in the crowded area outside the men's room, when he heard one gunshot, followed by more gunshots. He saw two people fall down as he backed into the women's restroom for cover. When he came out of the restroom, he saw Doughty, whom he knew as "Papoo," lying on the floor. The second person was gone.

         {¶5} Jasmine Moreland, a dancer at the club, testified that she was performing for a club patron in the area outside the men's room, when she heard gunshots coming from the bathroom. She testified that "we heard the gunshots, we just stopped and, like, everybody in the back just paused and then the bathroom door just flew open." She testified that Papoo and "the shooter" came out of the bathroom and fell to the floor, and that the shooter was holding a gun in his hand. She said that Papoo was holding onto the other man when they "busted out the door." She testified that she thought the other man "was trying to get [Papoo] off of him, but he still had the gun in his hand while he was trying to get [Papoo] off of him."

         {¶6} Moreland described the gun she saw as "a black, small gun." She said, "It was like it could be like a .25 or something." When asked whether the gun was an automatic or a revolver, Moreland replied, "I think it was automatic, I think. It was the square one." She explained, "When I say square, I'm basically describing it as like, if you know how a .22 is made with a small barrel, like it wasn't small like that. It was just the box type of gun."

         {¶7} At trial, Moreland identified Talbert as the gun-holding man who had come out of the bathroom with Doughty.

         {¶8} An autopsy revealed that Doughty sustained six gunshot wounds to the torso. Entrance wounds indicated that Doughty had been shot four times from behind and once in the chest. The sixth wound had indistinguishable entrance and exit wounds. The coroner testified that the shot to the chest went through Doughty's pulmonary artery, causing him to bleed to death. Three bullets were recovered from Doughty's body.

         {¶9} Police recovered seven .25-caliber cartridge casings and three fired bullets from inside the men's room. A firearms examiner testified that all six fired bullets (three from the autopsy and three from the men's room), and each of the seven casings, had been discharged from the same gun. The gun was never found.

         {¶10} Talbert did not testify or present witnesses on his behalf. The defense's theory of the case was that Talbert had not been in the bathroom when Doughty was shot, and that, as he and the other club patrons fled in panic following the gunfire, he had become entangled with Doughty when Doughty stumbled out of the bathroom. Defense counsel argued that neither Talbert's fingerprints nor his DNA had been found in the ...


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