526 N.E.2d 274 (Ohio 1988), 86-642, State v. Beuke

Docket Nº:86-642.
Citation:526 N.E.2d 274, 38 Ohio St.3d 29
Opinion Judge:MOYER, C.J.
Party Name:The STATE of Ohio, Appellee, v. BEUKE, Appellant.
Attorney:Arthur M. Ney, Jr., Pros. Atty., Leonard Kirschner, Robert P. Ruehlman and William E. Breyer, Cincinnati, for appellee. Arthur M. Ney, Jr., prosecuting attorney, Leonard Kirschner, Robert P. Ruehlman and William E. Breyer, for appellee., H. Fred Hoefle and Peter Outcalt, for appellant.
Judge Panel:SWEENEY, LOCHER, HOLMES, DOUGLAS and HERBERT R. BROWN, JJ., concur. WRIGHT, J., dissents in part and concurs in part.
Case Date:July 20, 1988
Court:Supreme Court of Ohio

Page 274

526 N.E.2d 274 (Ohio 1988)

38 Ohio St.3d 29

The STATE of Ohio, Appellee,


BEUKE, Appellant.

No. 86-642.

Supreme Court of Ohio.

July 20, 1988

Page 275

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 276

Submitted Dec. 8, 1987.

Syllabus by the Court

1. When an offender commits offenses in different jurisdictions as part of a course of criminal conduct, venue lies for all the offenses in any jurisdiction in which the offender committed one of the offenses or any element thereof. (R.C. 2901.12[H].)

2. Consistent with the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, a person who commits a crime partly in one state and partly in another state may be tried in either state.

Michael F. Beuke appeals from his convictions on various charges, including aggravated murder, for which he received the sentence of death.

On the morning of May 14, 1983, Gregory M. Wahoff picked up a hitchhiker, later identified as the defendant-appellant, Michael Beuke. Beuke produced a .38 caliber revolver and ordered Wahoff to drive east on I-275, explaining that he just wanted to take Wahoff's car and would bring it back. After exiting the freeway briefly to refuel the car at a Sohio gas station whose attendant later identified Beuke at trial, Wahoff re-entered the freeway and was directed to drive to Trustee Lane or Road, a small dirt road in Hamilton County, Ohio.

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At the end of this road, Beuke told Wahoff to stop the car and get out. After both men exited the car, Wahoff offered the defendant his wallet by throwing it at him. Leaving the wallet where it fell, Beuke ordered Wahoff to walk to a wooded area. When Wahoff refused, Beuke asked him, "Do you want to die here?" At that point, Wahoff tried to get the gun from the defendant by running towards him. He missed his chance and kept on running, but did not get far. Beuke shot Wahoff in the back, the bullet lodging against his spine, and Wahoff fell to the ground, paralyzed. When he caught up with Wahoff, Beuke placed the gun against Wahoff's face and fired a second shot. Fully conscious, Wahoff played dead. Apparently convinced that he had killed Wahoff, Beuke got into Wahoff's car and drove away.

The defendant was seen driving out of Trustee Lane by a nearby resident who later identified him at trial. Beuke drove Wahoff's car, a red or maroon GTO, back to an area near where he had been hitchhiking on Colerain Avenue. The car broke down and Beuke had to push it some distance into a Ponderosa Steak House parking lot. As he pushed the car, he was seen by another witness who was also able to identify him at trial.

Meanwhile, the sheriff's department had been called to the scene of the shooting. On a hillside near Trustee Lane, a sheriff's deputy found Wahoff conscious but unable to walk. The bullet was surgically removed from his back and given to the police. A second [38 Ohio St.3d 30] bullet was recovered from the hillside two days later. Wahoff's car was found on May 16, 1983 in the Ponderosa Steak House parking lot where defendant had left it. Latent fingerprints belonging to Beuke were recovered from the car. The police also learned that a large green plastic cup was missing from Wahoff's car.

On May 23, 1983, Kim E. Wilson, a high school student who lived on Romohr Road in rural Clermont County, Ohio, watched as her mother helped Beuke free a 1974 green Thunderbird which was stuck off the side of the road. Beuke had borrowed the car from a friend and co-employee, Michael J. Cahill. Kim apparently directed Beuke to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Voss where Beuke measured rooms for carpeting ordered from Beuke's employer, Harry's Corner. Both Kim and Peter Voss were able to later identify appellant at trial.

On June 1, 1983, Kim was walking down Romohr Road when she saw a red hat on the side of the road. As she drew near, she saw a body in the bushes down in the ditch. Testimony by a road department employee established the grass there had been cut at approximately 11:00 a.m. The body was lying on top of the clippings. Union Township police and an investigator with the Clermont County Prosecutor's office responded. The body was identified as being that of Robert S. Craig, a resident of Hamilton County. Two hundred and sixty dollars was found in Craig's shirt pocket and another five dollars in his wallet. He had been shot twice in the head and once in the chest. One gunshot wound was located between the victim's eyes. Craig's car was later recovered in a parking lot in the Tri-County Mall in Hamilton County. Upon opening the car's trunk, the police found fresh fish in storage containers.

Following Craig's killing, Beuke revealed to Cahill that he was the "mad hitchhiker" sought by the police in connection with shootings in the area. He told Cahill that he had been picked up by Craig on I-275 and that, Before he actually killed Craig, Craig had forgiven him. Beuke also mentioned that, since that day, he always smelled fish even though no fish were around. The defendant also admitted to Cahill that he had shot another person.

Craig was employed by Inland Reef, a fresh fish supplier located in Hamilton County. He had a history of picking up hitchhikers and engaging them in conversation about religion. On June 1, 1983, at approximately 11:00 a.m., Craig left Inland Reef to make a delivery of fish to a restaurant in Hamilton County which he had reached, on other occasions, via I-275 and I-71. The June 1 delivery, however, was never completed.

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On June 3, 1983, Bruce B. Graham saw a male hitchhiker carrying a red gas can while Graham was driving down I-74 to Cincinnati. Graham assumed that the man had run out of gas somewhere on the expressway. He picked up the man in order to take him to an exit and obtain gas for his car. Graham identified Beuke later at trial as the man he had picked up.

While Graham drove, the defendant pulled a short-barreled revolver out of his jacket and instructed Graham to drive a certain route, telling him that he "needed" his car and that he was just going to tie him up loosely so that Graham could later escape. He ordered Graham to exit the freeway in Indiana and drive to a secluded rural area. When Graham stopped the car, Beuke immediately fired the gun at him. The bullet grazed Graham's head, inflicting a minor but bloody wound. A struggle for the gun ensued. Graham [38 Ohio St.3d 31] eventually jumped out of the car and ran, but, as he fled, Beuke fired several shots, one striking Graham in the shoulder. Graham made his way to a farmhouse and Beuke drove off in Graham's car. Graham, who had approximately $160 in cash, was never asked for his wallet.

Graham was taken to a hospital where the bullet was removed from his shoulder and given to Indiana police. A description of Graham's car was disseminated and a few hours later the car was discovered at I-74 and North Bend Road, not far from the Hamilton County site where Graham first picked up the defendant. There was a bullet hole in the windshield and blood splattered in the car.

Eventually, Cahill informed the authorities about the criminal activities Beuke had described to him. A broadcast seeking defendant's apprehension followed. The green Thunderbird was found a few blocks from Beuke's home and, pursuant to a warrant, the car was searched on June 29, 1983. The green cup which had been taken from Wahoff's automobile, the gas can used in the Graham assault, and a blood-stained blue and white football jersey were found in the trunk.

At 11:52 a.m. on June 29, a Hamilton County sheriff's detective recognized Beuke from a composite which had been circulated. Beuke first responded to questioning by giving a false name. Thereafter, Beuke admitted his identity and told the detective, "You have got me." At the time of his arrest, Beuke had a .38 caliber revolver wrapped inside a windbreaker that he was carrying.

Beuke was indicted on: one count of aggravated murder, with two specifications, (1) for causing the death of Robert Craig as part of a course of conduct involving the purposeful attempt to kill two or more persons, and (2) for causing the death of Craig in the course of an aggravated robbery; two counts of attempted aggravated murder of Wahoff and Graham; three counts of aggravated robbery for the theft of automobiles belonging to Wahoff, Craig, and Graham; three counts of kidnapping for the abduction of Wahoff, Craig, and Graham; and one count of carrying a concealed weapon.

Beuke's jury trial began September 19, 1983. Evidence presented by the prosecution included Wahoff's and Graham's testimony, fingerprints belonging to Beuke found on the Wahoff and Craig automobiles, bullets removed from Craig and Wahoff identified as having been fired from Beuke's gun, and defendant's admissions to Cahill. The prosecution demonstrated Beuke's familiarity with the areas where Craig, Wahoff, and Graham were taken and shot, as well as the locations where their cars were found. The trial concluded on October 5, 1983 after the prosecution presented a total of thirty-nine witnesses and without Beuke's having testified or offered any other direct evidence in his defense.

The jury returned a verdict of guilty on all ten counts of the indictment as well as the two specifications making Beuke eligible for the death penalty.

The mitigation hearing was continued to October 7, 1983, although defense counsel sought more time to prepare therefor. In mitigation, the defense offered into evidence a presentence report and presented

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only defendant's parents as witnesses at the hearing. The parents' testimony focused upon the family's religious orientation, the defendant's active involvement in related activities and the Boy Scouts through age eighteen, and the family's personal and economic hardship. [38 Ohio...

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