State v. Leonard Jenkins

Decision Date24 February 1984
Docket Number45231,84-LW-4141
PartiesSTATE of Ohio, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Leonard JENKINS, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtOhio Court of Appeals

Criminal appeal from Common Pleas Court Case No. CR-168,784.

John T Corrigan, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, Cleveland, for plaintiff-appellee.

Marillyn Fagan Damelio, Public Defender-Appellate Supervisor Cleveland, for defendant-appellant.


MARKUS Presiding Judge.

The jury found defendant guilty of aggravated murder (R.C 2903.01(B)) with five aggravating specifications (R.C. 2929.04(A)(3), (5), (6), (7)). They also found defendant guilty of eight counts of aggravated robbery, five counts of kidnapping, one count of attempted murder, and one count of possession of criminal tools. At the conclusion of the subsequent penalty hearing for the aggravated murder charge, the jury determined that the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating factors. See R.C. 2929.03(D)(2). The jury recommended the death penalty. The trial court then made an independent finding that the aggravating circumstances for the aggravated murder outweighed the mitigating factors. The court sentenced defendant to death for aggravated murder and to imprisonment for the other fifteen convictions.

Defendant appeals his convictions and the death sentence, assigning twenty-four errors. Defendant's conviction for possession of criminal tools must be reversed because it was based on insufficient evidence. Otherwise, we conclude that defendant's assigned errors lack merit, so we affirm the remaining convictions and their corresponding sentences.

A.Summary of Evidence

On October 21, 1981, defendant and Lester Jordan entered a Cleveland bank. Both were armed with guns. Defendant approached the bank's security guard and disarmed him. With his gun and the guard's gun drawn, defendant directed bank patrons to the rear of the bank's lobby. Defendant then directed bank tellers to open their cash drawers while Jordon took the money.

Before Jordan finished collecting the money, defendant noticed that the police had arrived. Several witnesses inside the bank saw police officers through the bank's front glass doors. All bank witnesses heard defendant alert Jordan to the presence of the police. Several of these witnesses saw defendant shoot through the glass doors, toward the area where the police officers had been standing.

Officer John Myhand testified that he and his partner (Anthony Johnson) responded to a police broadcast about a robbery taking place at that bank. When they arrived, Myhand approached the bank's front doors with Johnson behind him. After peering in the front doors, Myhand alerted Johnson that it "was a good one," and to take cover. Myhand began running away from the door when he heard a gunshot. Thereafter, Myhand testified that he heard four or five more gunshots in rapid succession. Myhand fell to the ground with what doctors ultimately diagnosed as a compound fracture of his leg.

When Myhand turned to look back at the bank, he saw his partner Johnson on the ground with blood on his face. He also saw defendant on the ground, apparently wounded. Myhand noticed a red car backing toward him. Fearing that he was about to be run over, Myhand fired his gun once at the moving vehicle.

Officers Henderson and Howard testified that they also responded to a police broadcast about this bank robbery. When they were still one block from the bank, they heard gunshots. Henderson testified that he saw gunsmoke as his car turned the corner. He saw defendant run a few yards from the front of the bank and then collapse.

Henderson and Howard both saw Myhand shoot at a vehicle that they believed was trying to leave the scene. Both of them fired additional shots at the car. The driver of the car was wounded. Further investigation revealed that this driver was an innocent bystander. After shooting at the car, Officer Henderson approached defendant who was lying wounded on the ground. Officer Howard attended to Officer Johnson.

Lester Jordan came out of the bank with the bag of money and his gun. After disarming Jordan, Henderson ordered him to lie down on the ground next to defendant. Henderson testified that Jordan asked defendant why he shot the policeman. Defendant replied "I did not want him to kill me." Ambulances transported defendant, Officer Johnson, and Officer Myhand to the hospital, where Johnson ultimately died from the single gunshot wound to his head.

Emergency room personnel treated defendant for a gunshot wound through his spinal cord. Medical evidence showed that defendant was in shock when he arrived there, but that he was alert and answered questions within a short time thereafter. Detectives testified that they remained with defendant in the emergency room. They advised defendant of his rights, and he made several inculpatory statements before he terminated the interview.

Ballistics testimony was inconclusive concerning the kind of bullet that killed Johnson. The state's expert concluded that bullets found near Johnson's body were too mutilated for positive identification.

The police gathered all guns found at the robbery scene. Officer Johnson's gun had one spent and five live rounds. Defendant's gun had four spent and two live rounds. Officer Myhand's gun had one spent and five live rounds. They retrieved a bullet from the car at which Myhand reportedly shot, and ballistic evidence matched that bullet with Myhand's gun.

After the jury returned their guilty verdicts in this bifurcated trial, the court proceeded to conduct the statutorily prescribed penalty hearing. The defense presented evidence about several alleged mitigating factors, including defendant's adverse childhood experiences and his limited mental capacity. Defendant did not testify in the guilt phase of the proceedings, but he made an unsworn oral statement during the penalty phase. In that statement, he asserted that he followed Jordan's lead in committing the bank robbery.

For convenience in discussing defendant's twenty-four claimed errors, we have regrouped them into six general topics.

B.Pretrial Motions




Defendant contends his physical condition in the emergency room prevented him from knowingly and intelligently waiving his Miranda rights or voluntarily making the reported statements. The emergency room physician testified that defendant was "very shocking, cold, and clammy" with no recordable blood pressure when he first saw him at 9:51 a.m. Medical personnel inserted an intravenous tube in each arm and a thoracic tube in his chest, but they administered no medication which would impair his mental facilities.

The emergency room nurse-supervisor testified that she remained with defendant during his treatment in the emergency room. She monitored defendant's blood pressure at approximately 15-minute intervals. While the blood pressure was initially very low, it fluctuated and improved between 10:00 and 11:00. Defendant was conscious and able to respond to her questions at approximately 10:20 to 10:30.

She occasionally requested the police officers to move away from the patient when she needed to work close to him. However, they did not interfere with her nursing duties. She observed various policemen talking with defendant, but she did not know the content of their conversations. She could not identify individual officers who had been in the room.

Defendant took the stand during the suppression hearing to testify that he could not remember anything which occurred at the hospital. He could not remember hearing his Miranda rights, waiving them, or making a statement to the police.

The state presented testimony from two Cleveland Police Detectives, Officer Michael Cummings and Officer Leo Allen. Both officers said they were present in the emergency room when another officer read defendant his rights. Each one said he heard defendant answer "Yeah," when that officer asked defendant if he understood those rights, and if he wished to make a statement. Defendant did not appear to them to be in intense pain.

Officer Allen testified:

"First I asked him what his name was. He said his name was Joe Pitts. And that he lived on East 147th Street near Kinsman. He was asked who he was with at the bank robbery and he said he was with a male by the name of Gregg Walker.

"He was asked if he fired any weapons. He stated that he fired it one or two times, but he couldn't describe the weapon that he used.

"At that time we told him that we had arrested a man by the name of Lester Jordan and at that time Jenkins stated that he lied about Gregg Walker, that it was Lester Jordan.

"He was asked why he shot once or twice. He stated that he didn't want to get caught, that is why he shot at the police.

"At that time we learned through another police officer that Mr. Jenkins went by the street name of Weegie, so he was asked about that. And his reply was, fuck you honkeys, get out of my face, you ain't shitting.


"THE WITNESS: Something to the effect, he said, get out of my face you fuckin' honkeys, you ain't shitting. I don't want to talk to you no more. At that time we ceased questioning." (T. 813-814.)

Defendant's motion challenged the admissibility of his responses to custodial questioning. The state then had to establish that defendant knowingly...

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