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State v. Rodriquez

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

August 15, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ANGEL RODRIQUEZ (a.k.a. ANGEL RODRIGUEZ), Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case Nos. CR-17-618219-A, CR-17-621652-G, CR-17-622198-B, and CR-17-624182-A

          Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Andrew F. Rogalski, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.

          Mark A Stanton, Cuyahoga County Public Defender, and Noelle A. Powell and Jeffrey Gamso, Assistant Public Defenders, for appellant.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          EILEEN T. GALLAGHER, PRESIDING JUDGE

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Angel Rodriquez, appeals his sentence and claims the following two errors:

1. Angel Rodriquez was denied his rights to a fair trial and due process guaranteed by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and by Article I, Sections 10 and 16 of the Ohio Constitution when he was sentenced by a judge who had become personally involved and could no longer act without bias or prejudice.
2. Angel Rodriquez was denied his rights to a fair trial and due process as guaranteed by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitutions and by Article I, Sections 10 and 16 of the Ohio Constitution when the judge imposed his sentence based on improper considerations.

         {¶ 2} We find no merit to the appeal and affirm the trial court's judgment.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         {¶ 3} Rodriquez was charged with several offenses in four separate indictments; Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-17-618219-A, Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-17-621652-G, Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-17-622198-B, and Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-17-624182-A. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Rodriquez pleaded guilty to one count of felonious assault with a three-year firearm specification in C.P. No. CR-17-618219-A; one count of participating in a criminal gang with a three-year firearm specification, one count of felonious assault with a three-year firearm specification, and one count of aggravated menacing in C.P. No. CR-17-621652-G; one count of receiving stolen property and one count of having weapons while under disability in C.P. No. CR-17-622198-B; and one count of felonious assault with a three-year firearm specification in C.P. No. CR-17-624182-A. The plea agreement included an agreed sentencing range of 12 to 18 years for all four cases, and the trial court agreed to be bound by it.

         {¶ 4} The factual basis for Rodriquez's guilty pleas were discussed at length at the plea and sentencing hearings. In C.P. No. CR-17-618219-A, the indictment alleged that in May 2017, Rodriquez shot a woman, who was a friend of the mother of Rodriquez's baby. The friend, C.R, had been waiting in a car outside Rodriquez's house while the mother was inside picking up the baby when Rodriquez and the mother exited the home in the midst of an argument. The argument turned physically violent, and Rodriquez shot C.R. as she was running away. (Tr. 17, 94.)

         {¶ 5} In C.P. No. CR-17-624182-A, the indictment alleged that in July 2017, Rodriquez fired several gunshots into a van occupied by four young teenagers and two adult chaperones, who were on their way to the beach. (Tr. 96.) The van happened to stop at an intersection outside Rodriquez's house, and Rodriquez "thought they looked at him in the wrong way." (Tr. 96.) Photographs of the bullet holes in the van were introduced at sentencing. (Tr. 96.) Fortunately, no one was physically injured, and all six victims independently identified Rodriquez as the shooter in photo lineups.

         {¶ 6} In C.P. No. CR-17-621652-G, the indictment alleged that Rodriquez shot and seriously injured a rival rap artist's teenage brother as he was leaving school at the end of the day. (Tr. 93.) After the shooting, Rodriquez warned the victim, who had been shot in the leg, that "next time I won't miss." (Tr. 93.) The indictment also alleged that Rodriquez participated in a criminal gang while committing the offense.

         {¶ 7} Finally, in October 2017, Rodriquez was arrested in possession of a stolen firearm. (Tr. 92.) Rodriquez was subsequently charged with, and pleaded guilty to, having a weapon while under disability and receiving stolen property in C.P. No. CR-17-622198-B.

         {¶ 8} Two detectives from the Cleveland Police Department discussed Rodriquez's history of gang activity at the sentencing hearing. According to the detectives, Rodriquez was an active participant in the Westside Mafia subset of the Heartless Felons criminal gang. Detective Beveridge explained that he has known Rodriquez as an aspiring rap artist for years and tried to protect him from being killed as was the case with several of his rapper friends. Detective Beveridge spoke with Rodriquez's mother and with Rodriquez himself, but "obviously it didn't work." (Tr. 86.) The trial ...


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