State v. Monroe

Citation827 N.E.2d 285,105 Ohio St.3d 384,2005 Ohio 2282
Decision Date25 May 2005
Docket NumberNo. 2002-2241.,2002-2241.
PartiesThe STATE of Ohio, Appellee, v. MONROE, Appellant.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Ohio

Ron O'Brien, Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney, Steven L. Taylor, and Laura M. Rayce, Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys, for appellee.

W. Joseph Edwards and Todd W. Barstow, for appellant.


{¶ 1} In the early morning of April 17, 1996, Travinna Simmons and Deccarla Quincy were murdered in Quincy's apartment on Columbus's east side. Four years later, the Cold Case Unit of the Columbus Police Homicide Department obtained evidence implicating Shannon Boyd and defendant-appellant, Jonathon Monroe, in the double homicide. Monroe was found guilty of murdering Simmons and Quincy and was sentenced to death. This is Monroe's appeal.

{¶ 2} In 1996, Shannon Boyd had known Monroe for a few years and had sold drugs with him. According to Boyd, on April 16, 1996, Monroe phoned Boyd and asked him if he wanted "to take a ride." Monroe picked Boyd up and told him he had to meet someone on the east side of Columbus. They then drove to the Classic Lounge.

{¶ 3} Boyd later testified that inside the lounge, Monroe began talking to Deccarla Quincy and Travinna Simmons, whom Boyd described as flirtatious. The women invited Boyd and Monroe to smoke marijuana with them, and they all agreed to meet at Quincy's apartment nearby. Federal authorities were watching Quincy's apartment because the women were reputed to be dealers in large quantities of drugs.

{¶ 4} According to Boyd, he and Monroe got into Monroe's car, and Monroe told Boyd that he planned to smoke marijuana with the women and have them call their friends. He told Boyd that while Boyd stayed with the women, he would ride around with the women's friends, rob them, and then come back to get Boyd and act as if nothing had happened. But Boyd refused to go along with the plan, and when Monroe tried to give him a gun, Boyd refused that, too. Monroe shoved the gun under his driver's seat and told Boyd: "Quit being a pussy."

{¶ 5} Monroe and Boyd exited the car and followed the women into Quincy's third-floor apartment. Boyd noticed that the cigars in Quincy's apartment were not the type he preferred for making marijuana cigars, so he went back to Monroe's car to retrieve his own cigars. When Boyd reentered Quincy's apartment, Simmons and Quincy were sitting on a couch, and Monroe was standing in front of them holding a gun. The gun was different from the one Monroe had showed Boyd earlier. Boyd told Monroe that he did not want to go along with what Monroe was doing. Monroe pointed the gun at Boyd and asked him, "Do you want to die?" When Boyd replied no, Monroe told him to shut the door and do what he said.

{¶ 6} Boyd stated that Monroe gave him a pair of yellow latex dishwashing gloves to put on. Monroe then told Boyd to tape the women's hands and ankles with clear packing tape that was on a table in the apartment. While Boyd taped the ankles and wrists of the woman he referred to as the "big girl" (Simmons), one of the glove's fingertips came off after getting stuck on the tape. When Boyd began taping the ankles of the "smaller girl" (Quincy), Monroe told Boyd he was doing it wrong and told him to get a knife from the kitchen. Monroe taped Quincy's ankles and then began asking the women where the drugs and money were. The women repeatedly denied having any. Monroe took the knife Boyd had brought from the kitchen and began poking the women with it, asking them where the drugs were. When the women denied having any drugs, Monroe stabbed them. Monroe then told Boyd to separate the women. Boyd grabbed Simmons and dragged her into a bedroom.

{¶ 7} According to Boyd, Monroe put Simmons in a headlock while demanding drugs and money and stabbed her in the chest when she said that she and Quincy did not have any. Monroe put Simmons on a bed, then picked up Quincy from the couch and carried her into another bedroom. Boyd then panicked and ran out of the apartment and down the outside stairwell.

{¶ 8} Monroe later told a cellmate that after Boyd ran away, Monroe "went ahead and dumped them in the head," meaning he shot both women in the head. Boyd heard gunshots when he was at the bottom of the stairwell. He then ran to a nearby gas station, where he called a cab.

{¶ 9} Bennett and Patricia Wise lived in the apartment below Quincy's. Bennett was awakened by the scuffling and screaming coming from Quincy's apartment. Patricia, who was in the living room talking on the phone, also heard screaming and scuffling. She called 911. Patricia and Bennett heard someone running down the apartment-complex stairwell, and Bennett looked out from a window and saw a thin man wearing a greenish-yellow jacket running "real fast" from the apartment stairwell. Bennett recalled hearing "maybe four" gunshots. After the shots were fired, he saw a shorter, stocky, heavy man with a "mini-afro" run from the apartment stairwell with a gun in his hand. Other witnesses described Monroe as having been heavyset at the time of the murders.

{¶ 10} Patricia also looked out the apartment window during the commotion. She first saw a young, tall, thin man run out wearing what she described as a "bright lined yellow jacket." Shots were still being fired in the apartment above when she saw the first man. After the first man fled the scene, Patricia saw a stocky black man come out of the stairwell. Patricia recalled that all the shots were fired from the apartment above. She estimated that seven or eight shots were fired.

{¶ 11} Columbus Police arrived on the scene shortly thereafter and found the bodies of Simmons and Quincy. The apartment appeared to have been ransacked. Shell casings found in Quincy's apartment indicated that the women had been shot with a nine-millimeter firearm. Also found at the crime scene were pieces from a yellow rubber glove. Police collected blood from the front door of Quincy's apartment.

{¶ 12} Although both women had suffered several sharp-instrument wounds, the coroner attributed Quincy's death to a gunshot wound to the head and Simmons's death to multiple gunshot wounds, including a fatal gunshot wound to her head.

{¶ 13} The murders remained unsolved for several years. In January 2000, Detective Richard Bisutti of the Columbus Police Cold Case Unit was assigned the case. He had information that Monroe had been scheduled to make a drug transaction with one of the victims on the day of the homicides. The detectives began viewing Monroe as a suspect in the slayings after blood samples they obtained from him matched blood recovered from the crime scene.

{¶ 14} During the fall of 2000, Boyd implicated Monroe in the murders and made a plea bargain with the prosecutor to plead guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter in exchange for his testimony against Monroe. Charles White, who shared a cell with Monroe in the county jail in November 2001, also implicated Monroe based on conversations he had with Monroe while they were incarcerated together.

{¶ 15} Mark Hardy, a firearms examiner, concluded that the casings recovered at the scene, as well as bullets recovered from the two murder victims, were fired from a nine-millimeter firearm, likely a semiautomatic pistol. Hardy found that three different brands of ammunition were used in the slayings; however, no evidence suggested that more than one weapon was involved.

{¶ 16} Lynn Bolin, a forensic scientist with the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation ("BCI") specializing in DNA analysis, testified that blood found on the front door of Quincy's apartment was a mixture from various sources. The major DNA profile found in the mixture was consistent with Monroe's. Although the two victims could not be excluded as minor contributors to the mixture found on the apartment door, Boyd was excluded as a contributor. Bolin opined that Monroe could not be excluded as the source of the major DNA profile of the blood. The profile found occurs in one in every 29.140 quadrillion in the Caucasian population, one in every 2.336 quadrillion in the African-American population, and one in every 1.538 quadrillion in the Hispanic population.

{¶ 17} In April 2001, a grand jury indicted Monroe on eight counts of aggravated murder for the killings of Quincy and Simmons. Each count included a firearms specification and four death-penalty specifications: murder in connection with (1) an aggravated burglary, (2) an aggravated robbery, and (3) kidnapping (R.C. 2929.04[A][7]), and (4) murder as part of a course of conduct involving the killing of two persons (R.C. 2929.04[A][5]). Monroe was also indicted on one count of aggravated burglary, two counts of aggravated robbery, and two counts of kidnapping.

{¶ 18} During a jury trial, the state presented a number of witnesses, including Boyd. Monroe presented three defense witnesses, including Boyd and White. Defense witness Nathaniel Gilmore, who had lived with Boyd after the murders, testified that Boyd had told him that he murdered the two women and had never mentioned that anyone was with him. White testified that when he and Boyd were in jail, Boyd told him that he and Monroe had stabbed and shot the two victims. When another inmate expressed disbelief that Boyd could ever stab or shoot anyone, Boyd revised his story and said that Monroe was the one who had stabbed and shot the two women. When called by the defense, Boyd denied ever having talked to Gilmore about the murders and denied telling White that he had stabbed the victims. The trial court gave a limiting instruction to the jury that the testimony by Gilmore and White regarding what Boyd had told them was admitted solely to test the credibility of Boyd and was not to be considered for any other purpose.

{¶ 19} After deliberation,...

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