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State v. Steward

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

December 19, 2019

State of Ohio, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Mi A. Steward, Defendant-Appellant.

          APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas SADLER, J. C.P.C. No. 17CR-4209

         On brief

          Ron O'Brien, Prosecuting Attorney, and Barbara A. Farnbacher, for appellee.

          Brian J. Rigg, for appellant.

          DECISION

          SADLER, J.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Mi A. Steward, appeals from a judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas convicting her of two counts of felonious assault, in violation of R.C. 2903.11, and improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation, in violation of R.C. 2923.161. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         {¶ 2} The events that gave rise to this case occurred on July 22, 2017, when the two victims, Darla Irvin and Andrea Mann, arrived at Irvin's home after a night out. Irvin's home was located at the end of a cul-de-sac at 1811 Alcoy Drive in Columbus, Ohio. In her trial testimony, Irvin stated when she and Mann exited their vehicle at approximately 9:30 or 10:00 p.m., she noticed a dark colored vehicle parked in the cul-de-sac. She stated that when she and Mann reached her front door, she was startled by the sound of gunshots.

         When she turned in the direction of the shots, she saw a car pull away. Irvin testified the shots were fired from the middle of the street towards her house and that she believed three shots were fired. According to Irvin, she called 911 about five minutes later and reported the incident. The recording of that call was played for the jury, over appellant's objection, and admitted into evidence as State's Exhibit 1.[1] During the call, the following exchange took place:

MS. IRVIN: Oh, my God. This girl -- me and my friend just pulled up to my house, and we noticed there was a car already sitting outside. And a girl -- we know the girl. She got out and shot at my house. Like shot at me and my house. There's bullet holes in my house. And drove off in a truck.
911 DISPATCHER: How long ago was this?
MS. IRVIN: I don't know. It was like 5 minutes ago. Not even 5 minutes. Probably 2 minutes ago.
911 DISPATCHER: Okay. And was anybody hit?
MS. IRVIN: Oh, my gosh. No, there was nobody hit.
MS. IRVIN: My house is like the third one.
911 DISPATCHER: What's her name?
MS. IRVIN: Her name is Sommer Steward. It was two of them. So her and her cousin.
MS. MANN: (Inaudible.)
911 DISPATCHER: (Inaudible.)
MS. IRVIN: Yeah, her niece. Her niece's name is Mi Angel Steward. Her niece was driving, and she's already wanted for felonious assault. And the girl Sommer Steward is the one who was shooting.

(Tr. Vol. II at 47-49.)

         {¶ 3} When police arrived at Irvin's home in response to the 911 call, Irvin told Detective Anthony Richardson of the Columbus Division of Police that Sommer was the shooter and that appellant was the driver of the vehicle. The police took photographs of the front of Irvin's home and the kitchen. The photographs purportedly show at least one bullet strike on the front of the home and another bullet strike through the kitchen stove. (State's Exs. 3-1 through 3-19.) Irvin also signed her name to the photographs of appellant and Sommer that were shown to them by police, identifying them as the perpetrators. (State's Exs. 16 and 17.)

         {¶ 4} At trial, Irvin testified she is now 31 years old, and she had been friends with Sommer since childhood. She stated she had also grown up with appellant, who was Sommer's niece. Irvin told the prosecutor that she did not want to be in the courtroom testifying against Sommer and appellant. In her trial testimony, Irvin insisted that she was unable to identity either the shooter or the driver on the night of the shooting because she never got a look at their faces, it was dark outside, and she was under the influence of illegal narcotics at the time of the incident. When Irvin was asked at trial why she told police Sommer was the shooter, she answered as follows:

We had just got into an altercation, so like I said, we was texting back and forth. They were saying they were going to come out and do something to me. Like I said, I just assumed, you know, it was them. My friend [Mann] said it was them, so I just assumed it was them.

(Tr. Vol. II at 192.)

         {¶ 5} Mann took the stand and asserted that she was not in the courtroom to give testimony against appellant. She later stated she did not want to see anything bad happen to Sommer either. Like Irvin, Mann had been a childhood friend of Sommer. According to Mann, she first met Sommer when Sommer was 10 years old, and she first met appellant when appellant was nine years old.[2] She stated she was 32 years of age at the time of trial, and she estimated Sommer was 29 or 30 years old. She admitted she and Sommer "had altercations when we were younger, but nothing to complain about." (Tr. Vol. II at 34.) She stated that her relationship with Sommer has been "rocky for the last year or so due to this altercation." (Tr. Vol. II at 34.)

         {¶ 6} Mann testified she and Irvin are best friends, and they were both using drugs on the night of the shooting. Mann admitted she was an opiate addict for six years, but she maintained she was sober at the time of trial. Mann recalled that Irvin called 911 immediately after the shooting incident on July 22, 2017 and that she was standing close to the phone during that phone call. During the 911 conversation, Mann can be heard in the background speaking with Irvin as Irvin is relaying the license plate number of the vehicle appellant was driving. At one point during the conversation, Mann got on the phone and told the 911 operator "[t]hey threatened to do this. They threatened to come over to my house. They threatened to do all of that." (Tr. Vol. II at 47.)

         {¶ 7} After listening to the 911 recording, Mann acknowledged that it was her voice on portions of the recording. She testified she "[w]ent and got high" after the 911 call and before the police arrived. (Tr. Vol. II at 56.) Mann also remembered talking to police that night, making a statement, and identifying photographs of Sommer and appellant. (State's Exs. 14 and 15.) However, she testified "I just don't remember what I said and where it really came from." (Tr. Vol. II at 56-57.) Outside the presence of the jury, Mann listened to the tape recorded interview she gave to police on the night of the incident, in order to refresh her recollection. After listening to the recording, Mann testified, without objection, as follows:

Q. Ms. Mann, did you have an opportunity to listen to your interview with the police from that night of the shooting?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And do you remember telling the police who you saw running right towards you and the house?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And who did you tell the police was running towards you and the house?
A. Sommer Steward.
Q. And did you tell the police that Sommer Steward had something in her hand when she was running towards ...

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