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State v. Beatty-Jones

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

August 23, 2019

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
CHRISTOPHER S. BEATTY-JONES Defendant-Appellant

          Criminal Appeal from Common Pleas Court No. 2010-CR-983

          MATHIAS H. HECK, JR., by ANDREW T. FRENCH, Atty. Reg. No. 0069384, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          MICHAEL HALLOCK, JR., Atty. Reg. No. 0084630, Attorney for Defendant-Appellant.

          OPINION

          FROELICH, J.

         {¶ 1} Christopher S. Beatty-Jones appeals from a judgment of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas following his resentencing due to the vacation of his attempted felony murder conviction. For the following reasons, the trial court's judgment will be affirmed.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         {¶ 2} One night in March 2010, James Locker and William St. Peter, who were security guards at an apartment complex, approached Beatty-Jones as he returned to his car in a guest parking lot. When the guards patted down Beatty-Jones for their safety, a struggle ensued. During the confrontation, Beatty-Jones pulled out a gun and shot at St. Peter four times, hitting him in his bulletproof vest, his side, his forearm, and his thumb. St. Peter fell to the ground. Beatty-Jones then fired four or five times upon Locker. When St. Peter got to his feet and turned around, he saw Locker on the ground and Beatty-Jones running away. Beatty-Jones was arrested later that morning. Locker died a few days later.

         {¶ 3} Beatty-Jones was charged with and, after a jury trial, found guilty of six charges, each with a firearm specification. Counts 1, 2 and 3 - felonious assault (serious physical harm), felonious assault (deadly weapon), and attempted felony murder -concerned the assault on St. Peter. Counts 4, 5, and 6 -- felonious assault (serious physical harm), felonious assault (deadly weapon), and felony murder - related to the assault on and death of Locker.

         {¶ 4} At sentencing, the trial court merged Counts 1, 2, and 3 and the accompanying firearm specifications and imposed seven years in prison on Count 3 (attempted felony murder), along with an additional three-year term for the firearm specification to be served consecutively and prior to the seven-year sentence. The court also merged Counts 4, 5, and 6 and the accompanying firearm specifications and sentenced Beatty-Jones on Count 6 (felony murder) to fifteen years to life in prison, plus an additional three years for the firearm specification to be served consecutively and prior to the definite sentence. The sentence for Count 6 was to be served consecutively to Count 3. Beatty-Jones's aggregate sentence was 28 years to life in prison.

         {¶ 5} We affirmed Beatty-Jones's conviction on direct appeal. State v. Beatty-Jones, 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 24245, 2011-Ohio-3719. Beatty-Jones sought post-conviction relief, which was denied. We affirmed the trial court's judgment. State v. Beatty-Jones, 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 27328, 2017-Ohio-2605.

         {¶ 6} In July 2017, Beatty-Jones filed a motion to vacate his conviction for attempted felony murder on the ground that attempted felony murder was not a cognizable offense in Ohio, pursuant to State v. Nolan, 141 Ohio St.3d 454, 2014-Ohio-4800, 25 N.E.3d 1016. The State opposed the motion, claiming that the motion was untimely and barred by res judicata. The trial court ordered the State to file a memorandum addressing the issue raised in Beatty-Jones's motion. The State's reply memorandum agreed that Beatty-Jones's conviction for attempted felony murder (Count 3) was void, and it "agree[d] that this defendant should be appointed legal counsel and re-sentenced on all of his charges except Count 3 (Attempt to Commit Murder)."

         {¶ 7} On November 28, 2017, the trial court granted Beatty-Jones's motion to vacate the attempted felony murder conviction and scheduled a resentencing hearing.

         {¶ 8} The trial court resentenced Beatty-Jones on December 11, 2017. At the hearing, the State reiterated that Beatty-Jones should be resentenced on all charges. It asserted that Counts 1 and 2 and their accompanying specifications should be merged for sentencing and requested sentencing on Count 1. The prosecutor asked the trial court to impose seven years in prison on Count 1, the same sentence that had previously been imposed for the offenses related to St. Peter. The prosecutor also asked the trial court to re-impose the same sentence for Counts 4, 5, and 6 as previously imposed. The State's requested aggregate sentence again was 28 years to life in prison.

         {¶ 9} Defense counsel raised three matters with the trial court. First, counsel asked the court to merge all firearm specifications into a single specification. Counsel argued that the merger of offenses and the merger of specifications involved different analyses. Second, counsel argued, citing Willoughby v. Lukehart, 39 Ohio App.3d 74, 529 N.E.2d 206 (11th Dist.), that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to resentence Beatty-Jones due to an unjustified and lengthy delay between the conviction and resentencing. Third, counsel requested a new trial on the felonious assault charges concerning St. Peter, so that ...


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