State v. Goins, 2005 Ohio 1439 (OH 3/21/2005), Case No. 02 CA 68.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Ohio
Citation2005 Ohio 1439
Docket NumberCase No. 02 CA 68.
PartiesState of Ohio Plaintiff-Appellee, v. James Goins, Jr. Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date21 March 2005

Affirmed in part. Reversed in Part. Sentence Modified.

Atty. Paul J. Gains, Mahoning County Prosecutor, Atty. Greta Johnson, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, 21 West Boardman Street, 6th Floor, Youngstown, Ohio 44503, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Atty. John B. Juhasz, 7330 Market Street, Youngstown, Ohio 44512-5610, Atty. Damian A. Billak, 103 E. Boardman Street, Youngstown, Ohio 44503, for Defendant-Appellant.

Hon. Cheryl L. Waite, Hon. Gene Donofrio, Hon. Joseph J. Vukovich,



{¶1} Appellant James Goins, Jr. has filed this appeal to challenge his conviction and prison sentence on charges of attempted aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, felonious assault, and receiving stolen property. Appellant was sentenced to 85 1/2 years in prison. Appellant argues that there were errors in the bindover proceedings from juvenile court, errors in the admission of expert evidence, and that the length of sentence constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The record does not indicate that any reversible errors occurred, and the judgment of the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas is affirmed.


{¶2} Appellant's conviction arose from events which occurred on January 29, 2001. Appellant, along with codefendant Chad Barnette, attacked William Sovak, age 84, as he was picking up his daily newspaper outside his home in Youngstown, Ohio. Appellant and Barnette were both juveniles at the time. They pushed Mr. Sovak back into his home, repeatedly hit and kicked him, and knocked him to the ground many times. During this melee, they hit Mr. Sovak on the head with his telephone, causing serious injury. They forced Mr. Sovak to his kitchen where they found a set of keys, which they took. They then pushed Mr. Sovak down the stairs to his basement, where he passed out. The assailants dragged Mr. Sovak to a fruit cellar storage room in the basement and locked the door so that he could not escape. Later that evening, a neighbor of Mr. Sovak telephoned Jerome Jablonski (the victim's half-brother) to report that there was blood all over Mr. Sovak's house. Mr. Jablonski and his brother went to the house and found a trail of blood from the front door to the basement. Mr. Jablonski broke the lock on the fruit cellar and found Mr. Sovak inside, who had sustained a punctured lung, broken ribs and other broken bones.

{¶3} Also on January 29, 2001, Louis Luchisan, age 64, and his wife Elizabeth, were in their home in the same neighborhood as Mr. Sovak. Mr. Luchisan, who is confined to a wheelchair, had been working at his computer when two assailants kicked in the side door of his house. One of the men was carrying a firearm, which Mrs. Luchisan described as a sawed-off rifle or shotgun. The two assailants threatened to shoot the Luchisans if they did not give them some money. They hit Mr. Luchisan over the head with a plate, and Mrs. Luchisan saw blood flowing down her husband's head from the wound. Appellant and Barnette took Mrs. Luchisan to different rooms in the house looking for money. Mrs. Luchisan gave them about $167, while Mr. Luchisan gave them $20. Appellant and Barnette also hit Mrs. Luchisan with a telephone, and threatened to kill her. She eventually had to have staples put into her head as a result of the injuries.

{¶4} Just before the attackers left, Mrs. Luchisan heard a car horn beeping, indicating that a third assailant was waiting outside. Appellant and Barnette took the keys to Mr. Luchisan's car, a blue Chevy Malibu. They stole the car and a 27-inch television from the Luchisan's home.

{¶5} The police were notified to be on the lookout for the stolen vehicle. The car was spotted as the police were still inspecting the two crime scenes. Officer Joshua M. Kelly, who was on foot, saw the vehicle and pulled out his service firearm. The car suddenly veered and crashed into a tree. There were four people in the car, including Appellant in the front passenger seat. Officers also found a sawed-off rifle in the vehicle, similar in appearance to the weapon used at the Luchisan home. Appellant fled from the car after the crash, and was captured soon afterward.

{¶6} Police found a blue denim jacket in Appellant's home. In the jacket pocket they found the keys to the Sovak's house. They also confiscated the clothing that Appellant was wearing when he was captured, and blood analysis was later performed on that clothing.

{¶7} During the investigation the police photographed footprints left in the snow outside both Mr. Sovak's and Appellant's residences. The police also examined footprints from the Formica floor in Mr. Sovak's home, as well as a footprint left on the door of the Luchisans' house where it had been kicked in. The shoes of both Appellant and Barnette were seized by the police. The tread on those shoes was found to match shoe tread marks left at the crime scene.

{¶8} On February 5, 2001, a juvenile delinquency complaint was filed against Appellant alleging twelve counts, including attempted murder, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, felonious assault, and receiving stolen property. The state filed a motion to transfer the case to the adult division of the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas. On February 22, 2001, the court held a bindover hearing in which it found probable cause for all the offenses except for the kidnapping charges. The court held that the mandatory bindover provisions of R.C. §2151.26 applied to the charges of attempted aggravated murder, the aggravated burglary of the Luchisans, the aggravated robbery of Mr. Luchisan, and the aggravated robbery of Mrs. Luchisan. The juvenile court then bound the entire case over to the Mahoning County Grand Jury.

{¶9} On March 22, 2001, the Mahoning County Grand Jury indicted Appellant on the following charges: 1) attempted aggravated murder of Mr. Sovak; 2) aggravated burglary of Mr. Sovak; 3) aggravated robbery of Mr. Sovak; 4) kidnapping of Mr. Sovak; 5) aggravated burglary of the Luchisans; 6) aggravated robbery of Mr. Luchisan; 7) aggravated robbery of Mrs. Luchisan; 8) kidnapping of Mr. Luchisan; 9) kidnapping of Mrs. Luchisan; 10) felonious assault of Mr. Luchisan; 11) felonious assault of Mrs. Luchisan; 12) and receiving stolen property. Four of the counts contained gun specifications. The court consolidated the matter with the criminal case proceeding against codefendant Chad Barnette.

{¶10} On November 28, 2001, Appellant and Barnette filed writs of habeas corpus with this Court, challenging whether the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas, General Division, had jurisdiction over criminal charges that were not bound over from the juvenile division. Goins v. Wellington, 7th Dist. Nos. 01 CA 208, 01 CA 210, 2001-Ohio-3503 (Goins I). This Court denied both writs on December 18, 2001, and the case proceeded to jury trial beginning on March 4, 2002.

{¶11} On March 12, 2002, the jury found Appellant guilty of all counts except for one count of felonious assault against Mr. Luchisan. The jury also found Appellant guilty of the gun specifications in counts six, seven, eight and nine.

{¶12} A sentencing hearing was held on March 20, 2002. The trial court filed its judgment on March 21, 2002. The court sentenced Appellant to the maximum prison terms on each count, and to three years in prison on each gun specification. The court held that the kidnapping charges merged with robbery charges. The court also determined that all remaining sentences must be served consecutively to each other, for a total of 85 1/2 years in prison.


{¶13} "Appellant Was Denied Due Process of Law When He Was Tried as an Adult for Offenses for Which He Was Indicted That Were Never Bound over from the Juvenile Court to the General Division. (T.d. 40, 51, 55.) U.S. CONST., amend. XIV, OHIO CONST., art. I, §§1, 2, and 16."

{¶14} Issue 1: Was there an improper bindover of the kidnapping charges?

{¶15} Appellant raises two issues under this assignment of error. Appellant first argues that the general division of the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas did not have jurisdiction to prosecute him on kidnapping charges that were not bound over from the juvenile division of the court. Appellee, in rebuttal, argues that this issue was previously decided by this Court in Goins v. Wellington (Dec. 18, 2001), 7th Dist. Nos. 01 CA 208, 01 CA 210 ("Goins I"). In Goins I, Appellant filed a writ of habeas corpus based, in part, on the failure of the juvenile court to find probable cause for the three kidnapping charges. This Court held that a habeas action was not the proper forum to litigate the issue as to whether the grand jury properly indicted Appellant for kidnapping, and left the matter undecided. Goins I at *5. Thus, Appellee is incorrect that this matter was previously reviewed and resolved in Goins I.

{¶16} Appellee also argues that the Juvenile Court properly transferred jurisdiction of the entire juvenile case over to the general division, and that this act was sufficient for the general division to submit the case to the grand jury to determine the crimes for which Appellant would be indicted. Appellee is correct that, according to the language used by the juvenile court in its February 28, 2001, judgment entry, the court did submit the entire action over to the general division:

{¶17} "IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that pursuant to ORC 2151.26 (B), the matter herein is transferred to the General Trial Division of the Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for further proceedings pursuant to law."

{¶18} In contrast, though, the judgment entry also states that the court, "makes no...

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