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State v. Johnston

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

December 12, 2019

State of Ohio, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Hakeem O. Johnston, Defendant-Appellant.

          APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas C.P.C. No. 17CR-818

         On brief:

          Ron O'Brien, Prosecuting Attorney, and Kimberly M. Bond, for appellee.

          Todd W. Barstow, for appellant.

         Argued:

          Kimberly M. Bond.

          Todd W. Barstow.

          DECISION

          KLATT, P.J.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Hakeem O. Johnston, appeals from a judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas finding him guilty, pursuant to jury verdict, of aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, involuntary manslaughter, and felony murder, with associated 54-month firearm specifications as to each, and guilty, pursuant to bench verdict, of having weapons while under disability ("WUD"), with an associated 54-month firearm specification. Because the manifest weight of the evidence supports the verdicts, we affirm.

         {¶ 2} In 2017, Laquam Gratsy lived in a two-story house located at 255 South Ogden Avenue. The house was well-known as a "trap house" where persons could buy, sell, and abuse drugs. (Tr. at 179.) Two surveillance cameras mounted at the top left and top right of the front porch captured images of persons entering and exiting the house through the front door, which led to directly into the living room. These cameras also captured images of persons walking along the side of the house near the front door. In addition, a surveillance camera mounted at the top of the back of the second story monitored ingress and egress through the back door, which led directly into the kitchen.

         {¶ 3} On January 30, 2017, Michael Reime rode with appellant, known as "Chilli," Devante Harris, known as "Shooter," a man known as "Steve-O," and a man named Max to the Ogden Avenue address. At the time, Reime and Gratsy were good friends; however, Reime had known appellant and Shooter less than a day. Appellant told Reime that a woman at the Ogden house owed him money. Both appellant and Shooter were armed with .40 caliber handguns; appellant's gun had an extended clip.

         {¶ 4} The front porch surveillance cameras captured images of the group arriving at the Ogden house at approximately 7:42 p.m.; Reime and the others walked around the side of the house to the back door. (State's Ex. 153-154.) Gratsy's brother, Emilio, immediately permitted Reime to enter the house. The other four men initially were denied entry; however, they eventually were permitted inside. Gratsy and Kiana Bacino were seated at the kitchen table conducting drugs transactions. Marcus Cooley, a homeless crack addict who sometimes worked as a "doorman," regulating traffic in and out of the house in exchange for drugs, was also in the kitchen. (Tr. at 433-34.) Reime and Steve-O walked through the kitchen to the living room, where several young women were abusing drugs. Emilio eventually left the house; however, Gratsy, Bacino, Cooley, appellant, Shooter, and Max remained in the kitchen.

         {¶ 5} At some point, appellant, allegedly angry because some of the individuals inside the house owed him money, pulled out his gun and ordered Gratsy, Bacino, and Cooley to lie down on the floor. Gratsy, however, remained seated at the table. After Shooter and Max robbed the others, appellant struck Gratsy in the back of the head with the gun. When Gratsy stood up, appellant again struck him with the gun, this time on the left side of his face. Gratsy, unconscious, fell to the floor, close to Bacino, who had complied with appellant's order to get on the floor. Appellant then fired one shot at Gratsy, hitting him in the back.

         {¶ 6} Reime, still in the living room, heard the gunshot. About five seconds later, appellant entered the living room, held a gun to Reime's face, and told him to get down on the floor. Appellant, Shooter, ...


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