State v. Knowles, L-22-1042

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
Writing for the CourtDUHART, J.
Citation2022 Ohio 3264
PartiesState of Ohio Appellee v. Amaun Knowles Appellant
Docket NumberL-22-1042
Decision Date16 September 2022

2022-Ohio-3264

State of Ohio Appellee
v.

Amaun Knowles Appellant

No. L-22-1042

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Sixth District, Lucas

September 16, 2022


Trial Court No. CR0202201254

Julia R. Bates, Lucas County Prosecuting Attorney, and Evy M. Jarrett, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.

Karin L. Coble, for appellant.

DECISION AND JUDGMENT

DUHART, J.

{¶ 1} Appellant, Amaun Knowles, appeals from a judgment entered by the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas, denying him bail. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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Statement of the Case and the Facts

{¶ 2} On February 16, 2022, appellant and his co-defendants, James Woods and Cynthia Radsick-Wood, were indicted on charges of felonious assault, in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(2) and (D), and improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation, in violation of R.C. 2923.161(A)(1) and (C). Both offenses were felonies of the second degree, and both carried firearm specifications.

{¶ 3} On February 25, 2022, a hearing was held to determine whether appellant should be denied bail. At the hearing, the state proffered testimony by a single witness, Toledo Police Detective James Tucker, who testified to the following facts. On January 1, 2022, Detective Tucker responded to 406 Daniels Avenue, following a 911 call to police. Officers who were already on the scene observed bullet holes in the house. The home's occupant ("the victim") told police that he had argued with his girlfriend, C.W., earlier that day and that she had broken some items and then left the residence. The victim further stated that he awoke a couple hours later when a car pulled up outside his home. He looked out the window and saw C.W. insider her maroon Tahoe. He also saw James Woods get out of the car and reach into his pocket. The victim thought Woods was retrieving a firearm, so he "dove onto the ground." He then heard gunshots and saw that his home was being shot.

{¶ 4} Detective Tucker discovered 22 9-millimeter shell casings in the street outside the residence, and he found bullet holes and fragments inside the home. He

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stated that the bullet fragments were unique, because they were coated in an orange rubber substance that he had never seen before. Two bullet holes were in the window that the victim had been looking through when he saw Woods getting out of the vehicle.

{¶ 5} The victim directed police crews to the home of his girlfriend, C.W., at 702 Bronx Drive. When police arrived, they found a purple SUV parked in the driveway. The vehicle was still warm from having been recently driven, and there were fresh footprints leading to the residence. Police brought the occupants of the house - namely, C.W., C.W.'s daughter Cynthia Radsick-Wood, Radsick-Wood's boyfriend James Woods, and appellant - to the Toledo Police Safety Building to be interviewed.

{¶ 6} During the interview, C.W. provided the following information. On the day in question, C.W. told the others in the house that the victim had assaulted her while they were having an argument. She, Woods, appellant, and Radsick-Wood got in the vehicle and went to confront the victim. Radsick-Wood drove the group, and when they arrived at the victim's house, James Woods and appellant exited the car, went up to the front door of the house, and knocked. When no one answered, C.W. saw Woods reach inside his clothing and pull out a firearm. She closed her eyes, and then heard two guns firing.

{¶ 7} Cynthia Radsick-Wood confirmed that she drove the others to the victim's house and said that C.W. was in the passenger's seat, while appellant and Woods were in the back seat. She told police that she saw both appellant and Woods get out of the

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vehicle. She also said that she saw both men pull out firearms, point them at the house, and fire gunshots.

{¶ 8} Appellant told police that he was dropped off at C.W.'s house at about 10:00 p.m., and that he fell asleep in the upstairs bedroom, where he remained until Toledo Police officers arrived.

{¶ 9} Detective Tucker testified that he had reviewed a recorded phone call between appellant and an individual that appellant identified as his uncle. Appellant stated during the conversation with his uncle that he did go to the house in question and that he had a firearm, but he claimed not to have fired any shots.

{¶ 10} Police obtained a search warrant for the house at 702 Bronx. Upon executing the search warrant, police discovered two 9-millimeter handguns loaded with bullets that were coated in the same orange substance that was found on the bullet fragments discovered inside the victim's house.

{¶ 11} Detective Tucker testified that gun violence is a serious problem in Toledo, and that both shootings and deaths from shootings have recently increased. He said that 22 gunshots had the potential to injure or kill "even more than 22" people. He also acknowledged that a 10-year-old girl had recently been shot and killed while sitting in an automobile.

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{¶ 12} Detective Tucker testified that the electronic monitoring department in Lucas County is not staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and that the electronic monitors can be, and at times have been, removed by the wearer.

{¶ 13} At the conclusion of the evidentiary hearing, the court described the offenses in this case as having their origins in a domestic dispute but, ultimately, as creating a situation that endangered individuals not directly involved in the dispute:

[S]ome may struggle to see how [shots fired into a home as the result of a domestic dispute] would present a risk to the community or persons at large, but those persons would fail to realize one defect with bullets. They do not have brakes. They do not stop when they hit or miss the people, places, or things they are aimed at. Bullets continue to travel through stucco, through brick, through wood, through glass, through people. Houses are not transparent. * * * [B]ased upon the evidence of the State they pulled up in this vehicle. Two people got out, and they started to fire in a home without knowing who or how many people were inside, and this is Toledo. It is an urban city. There are other homes, other people in the same general area where this took place.

The court pointed out that the legislature considered the crimes in question to be serious, and that the offenses carried a combined six-year mandatory sentence, together with a maximum prison term of anywhere from 22 to 26 years.

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{¶ 14} The court also reviewed the evidence from the hearing, noting appellant's admission that he was present at the crime, the fact that multiple shots were fired, and the fact that witnesses, including appellant himself, identified appellant has possessing a weapon. The court acknowledged appellant's lack of a criminal record, but nevertheless found the following, by clear and convincing evidence:

Proof is evident or the presumption is great that the accused committed the offense described. The accused poses a substantial risk of serious physical harm to persons and property within this community. No release conditions will reasonably assure the safety of persons in the community.

The court further stated that placement on electronic monitoring would permit appellant to move within the community and, thus, would "offer no protection for the victim or any other persons involved or identified in this offense." In accordance with the foregoing findings and conclusions, the trial court ordered that appellant be held without bond.

Assignments of Error

{¶ 15} Appellant asserts the following assignments of error on appeal:

I. The trial court erred as a matter of law by denying Mr. Knowles' bond entirely pursuant to R.C. 2937.222(B).
II. Defense counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to introduce any evidence on Mr. Knowles' behalf.
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Analysis

{¶ 16} Appellant argues in his first assignment of error that the trial court erred when it ordered him to be held without bail pursuant to R.C. 2937.222. The statute provides that a defendant charged with certain serious offenses, including, as relevant to this appeal, a felony of the second degree, may be denied bail if the trial court holds a hearing and finds that: (1) the proof is evident or the presumption great that the accused committed the charged offense; (2) the accused poses a substantial risk of serious physical harm to any person or to the community; and (3) no release conditions will reasonably assure the safety of that person and the community. R.C. 2937.222(A) and (B).

{¶ 17} In determining whether the accused poses a substantial risk of serious physical harm to any person or to the community and whether there are conditions of release that will reasonably assure the safety of that person and the community, the trial court shall consider all available information regarding all of the following:

(1) The nature and circumstances of the offense charged, including whether the offense is an offense of violence or involves alcohol or a drug of abuse;
(2) The weight of the evidence against the accused;
(3) The history and characteristics of the accused, including, but not limited to, both of the following:
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(a) The character, physical and mental condition, family ties, employment, financial resources, length of residence in the community, community ties, past conduct, history relating to drug or alcohol abuse, and criminal history of the accused;
(b) Whether, at the time of the current alleged offense or at the time of the arrest of the accused, the accused was on probation, parole, postrelease control, or other release pending trial, sentencing, appeal, or completion of sentence for the commission of an offense under the laws of this state, another state, or the United States or under a municipal ordinance.
(4) The
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