FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF
LORAIN, OHIO CASE No. 17CR095509
D. TOTH, ATTORNEY AT LAW, FOR APPELLANT.
P. WILL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY, AND LINDSEY C. POPROCKI,
ASSISTANT PROSECUTING ATTORNEY, FOR APPELLEE.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
S. CALLAHAN Judge.
Defendant-Appellant, Devonte Randleman, appeals from his
convictions in the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas. This
Someone shot S.D. four times after he came home in the middle
of the night. The police discovered his body lying in his
driveway along with a pair of sunglasses and an iPhone.
Because his apartment had been ransacked, the police surmised
that a burglary had been in progress when S.D. unexpectedly
returned home. An anonymous tip led them to Mr. Randleman,
and evidence found at the scene also pointed toward his
involvement. Forensic testing of the sunglasses and iPhone
detected Mr. Randleman's DNA on those items.
Additionally, his DNA was detected on a loaded firearm the
police found lying on a dresser inside S.D.'s apartment.
The iPhone was registered to Mr. Randleman's girlfriend
and used by Mr. Randleman. The police discovered that someone
remotely wiped the phone and restored it to its factory
settings a little over two hours after the murder. They also
discovered that, later that same day, Mr. Randleman purchased
a new cell phone.
A grand jury indicted Mr. Randleman on one count of
aggravated murder; one count of murder; one count of felony
murder; two counts of aggravated robbery, charged under
alternative subsections; two counts of aggravated burglary,
charged under alternative subsections; two counts of
felonious assault, charged under alternative subsections; one
count of tampering with evidence; one count of having a
weapon under disability; and numerous firearm specifications.
The matter proceeded to trial, and a jury found Mr. Randleman
guilty on all counts. The trial court then sentenced him to a
total of 33 years to life in prison.
Mr. Randleman now appeals from his convictions and raises
three assignments of error for review. For ease of analysis,
this Court rearranges his assignments of error.
OF ERROR NO. 2
STATE OF OHIO VIOLATED THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE OF THE
FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT, AND BATSON V. KENTUCKY, WHEN THE
PROSECUTOR EXCUSED THE ONLY AFRICAN AMERICAN JUROR FOR BEING
"DISHONEST" WHEN HE ONLY DISCLOSED A CRIMINAL
CONVICTION THROUGH A JURY QUESTIONNAIRE AND NOT AFFIRMATIVELY
DURING VOIR DIRE.
In his second assignment of error, Mr. Randleman argues that
his due process rights were violated when the trial court
allowed the State to strike Juror Number 5, the only member
of the jury pool who was an African American. Upon review,
this Court rejects his argument.
"The Equal Protection Clause of the United States
Constitution prohibits deliberate discrimination based on
race by a prosecutor in his exercise of peremptory
challenges." State v. Campbell 9th Dist. Summit
No. 24668, 2010-Ohio-2573, ¶ 33, citing Batson v.
Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 89 (1986). "'A court
adjudicates a Batson claim in three
steps.'" State v. Were, 118 Ohio St.3d 448,
2008-Ohio-2762, ¶ 61, quoting State v. Murphy,
91 Ohio St.3d 516, 528 (2001).
In the first step, a defendant must make a prima facie
showing that the [S]tate has exercised a peremptory challenge
on the basis of race. Once the prima facie showing has been
made, the State must offer a basis for striking the
prospective juror that is race-neutral. Finally, the trial
court must consider the parties' positions to determine
whether the defendant has demonstrated purposeful
(Internal citations omitted.) State v. Jackson, 9th
Dist. Summit No. 27739, 2017-Ohio-278, ¶ 6. The final
step directs the court to examine the State's
race-neutral explanation "'in context to ensure
[its] reason is not merely pretextual.'" State
v. Pickens, 141 Ohio St.3d 462, 2014-Ohio- 5445, ¶
63, quoting State v. Frazier, 115 Ohio St.3d 139,
2007-Ohio-5048, ¶ 65. The court "must 'assess
the plausibility' of the prosecutor's reason for
striking the juror 'in light of all evidence with a
bearing on it.'" Pickens at ¶ 63,
quoting Miller-El v. Dretke, 545 U.S. 231, 252
(2005). "The conclusion of the trial court that the
[S]tate did not possess discriminatory intent in the exercise
of its peremptory challenges will not be reversed on appeal
absent a determination that it was clearly erroneous."
State v. Hernandez, 63 Ohio St.3d 577, 583 (1992).
During voir dire, the prosecutor asked the prospective jurors
whether any of them, their family members, or their friends
had ever been "accused or convicted of a crime."
Two prospective jurors responded, and the prosecutor asked
those jurors about their experiences and whether those
experiences would affect their impartiality. The prosecutor
then asked the jury pool: "Anyone else? Someone? Anyone
else? Here? Anyone?" Because no one else responded, the
prosecutor changed topics. Later during voir dire, however, a
third prospective juror asked to return to the
prosecutor's question and discuss the matter in private.
After she did so, a fourth prospective juror ...