State v. Stumpf, 86-1118

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Ohio
Writing for the CourtHERBERT R. BROWN; MOYER
Citation512 N.E.2d 598,32 Ohio St.3d 95
PartiesThe STATE of Ohio, Appellee, v. STUMPF, Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 86-1118,86-1118
Decision Date19 August 1987

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32 Ohio St.3d 95
512 N.E.2d 598
The STATE of Ohio, Appellee,
STUMPF, Appellant.
No. 86-1118.
Supreme Court of Ohio.
Aug. 19, 1987.
Syllabus by the Court

1. Under R.C. 2929.03(F), a trial court or three-judge panel may rely upon and cite the nature and circumstances of the offense as reasons supporting its finding that the aggravating circumstances were sufficient to outweigh the mitigating factors.

2. Under R.C. 2929.04(B), evidence of an offender's history, background and character which the jury, trial court, or panel of three judges considered, but did not find to be mitigating, need be given little or no weight against the aggravating circumstances.

In May 1984, Clyde Daniel Wesley and his friend, Norman Leroy Edmonds, set out from Texas in Edmonds' 1977 brown Pontiac Grand Prix. Edmonds took along his nine millimeter automatic handgun and a chrome-plated Raven .25 caliber automatic. Wesley had a .25 caliber Armi automatic. The two had finished their jobs as construction workers and planned to look for work in Florida. But first, Wesley wanted to stop in Washington, Pennsylvania to see his son. Along the way they stole a car in Oklahoma.

On May 13, the two arrived in Washington, Pennsylvania. The next day, with their weapons and a supply of beer in Edmonds' car, they made

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a call on appellant, John David Stumpf, a friend of Wesley. Stumpf joined them.

The three went to a bar in Washington where they drank six to eight beers. Then the three began driving around, drinking from the supply of beer in the car. Stumpf asked to see the .25 caliber Raven and Edmonds handed it to him. They drove into Ohio. As they drove and drank, Wesley told Edmonds (who was driving) to pass another car on the roadway. As they did, Wesley, for sport, took a shot at the driver of the other car.

It was dusk when the three stopped along I-70. Saying they had to make a phone call, Stumpf and Wesley set out on foot for a nearby house (one hundred to one hundred fifty yards from the interstate), leaving Edmonds in the car.

Stumpf and Wesley rang the back doorbell. Mr. and Mrs. Norman Stout, who lived in the house, were seated at their kitchen table. Mary Jane Stout was paying bills. Norman Stout went to the door.

Stumpf and Wesley asked to use the phone and were invited in. After he finished with the phone, Stumpf took out his handkerchief and wiped it off.

[512 N.E.2d 601] Stumpf then asked Wesley, "Are you ready? Are you ready?"

"Not yet," Wesley answered.

Stumpf asked the question several

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times and received the same answer. During this time Norman Stout was cleaning his fingernails with a pocket knife. As Mr. Stout returned the knife to his pocket, Stumpf asked once more, "Are you ready?"

"Now, yes," said Wesley. The two turned, produced pistols and Wesley announced a robbery. Mr. Stout surrendered his billfold, which contained $117.

The Stouts were herded down the hall to a bedroom. There, Stumpf held the Stouts at gunpoint while Wesley ransacked the house. As Wesley continued his search, Stumpf's hand began to shake, holding the gun on the Stouts. Norman Stout decided to walk around to the end of the bed. When he reached the end of the bed, Stumpf shot him between the eyes with the chrome-plated .25 caliber Raven automatic.

Stout kept going and grabbed Stumpf. The two grappled. Mr. Stout was pushed across the hall into another bedroom. He suffered a bruise consistent with being struck by the butt of a gun.

Mr. Stout does not remember being shot a second time, though a second bullet entered the top of his head. When he regained consciousness he was lying on the floor of the across-the-hall bedroom. He heard two male voices conversing in a normal tone. Then he heard the four shots that killed his wife. His next recollection was in the ambulance, on the way to the hospital. Mary Jane Stout, while still on the bed, was shot three times in the left side of her face and once in the left wrist.

Stumpf and Wesley left in Mary Jane Stout's Plymouth. Along the highway, Stumpf threw the pistol that had been used to shoot both Stouts out the window.

Meanwhile, Edmonds, back in his car, saw the outside floodlights come on at the Stout house. The garage door opened and a car backed out. Unbeknownst to Edmonds, it was Stumpf and Wesley in the car stolen from Mary Jane Stout. Edmonds became frightened and drove away. He stopped for gas in New Concord, Ohio and made a call to his family in Texas. When he left the gas station without paying, he was chased by two men. After stopping his car, he fired the nine millimeter pistol at them when they approached. Edmonds then turned the car and headed back to Washington, Pennsylvania.

On the day after the murder, Stumpf and Wesley abandoned Mrs. Stout's car. Before so doing, Stumpf wiped the car down because he "didn't want to get involved with it."

Stumpf, Wesley and Edmonds reunited in Pennsylvania. Edmonds wanted to sell his nine millimeter pistol to obtain traveling money for a return to Texas. Stumpf made a telephone call to arrange the sale. Stumpf took Wesley and Edmonds to the house of John Dino who bought the nine millimeter pistol and a .357 Magnum which had been stolen from Mr. Stout. Edmonds and Wesley then drove back to Texas.

Edmonds, traced by the long distance call, was arrested and told what he knew. Stumpf, upon learning of the warrant for his arrest, surrendered. At first he denied being in the Stout home, but upon being told that Norman Stout had survived, he admitted robbing the Stouts, admitted shooting Mr. Stout and admitted holding the Stouts at gunpoint. He said he left the Stout home after shooting Mr. Stout, and denied shooting Mrs. Stout. Later he changed his story again, claiming that he and Wesley had switched weapons and that he had never fired the chrome-plated Raven. However, Mr. Stout remembered being shot by Stumpf with the chrome-

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Raven and so testified at trial. He also picked Stumpf out of a photo line-up that included Wesley and Edmonds.

The four bullets removed from Mary Jane Stout's body and the bullet from the wound to the top of Norman Stout's head were all fired from the same .25 caliber weapon. The bullet fragment extracted from Norman Stout's forehead was too small to compare, but it did have the same width rifling marks as the other bullets that struck Norman and Mary Jane Stout. In all, eight spent .25 caliber shell casings [512 N.E.2d 602] were recovered from the bedrooms and hallway, seven fired by the same weapon. The other one was fired by Wesley's Armi .25 caliber pistol.

Mr. Stout is left with numbness and lack of dexterity in his left arm, a loss of bowel and bladder control, and impaired ability to concentrate and remember. His disabilities are permanent.

Appellant, Stumpf, was indicted for aggravated murder (with four specifications), attempted aggravated murder (with one specification), aggravated robbery (with one specification), grand theft of an automobile, and grand theft of a firearm. Stumpf waived a trial by jury and requested a trial to a panel of three judges. Thereafter, he pleaded guilty to: (1) count one of the indictment, aggravated murder, in violation of R.C. 2903.01(B); (2) specification one of count one, the offense being committed for the purpose of escaping detection, apprehension, trial, or punishment for the other offenses of aggravated robbery and attempted aggravated murder, R.C. 2929.04(A)(3); (3) specification four of count one, use of a firearm while committing a felony, R.C. 2941.141; (4) the second count in the indictment, attempted aggravated murder, in violation of R.C. 2923.02(A); and (5) the specification to the second count, use of a firearm while committing a felony, R.C. 2941.141. The three-judge panel, after hearing the evidence, unanimously found Stumpf guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of all the charges to which he had pleaded guilty.

At his sentencing hearing, Stumpf presented evidence in mitigation that although he dropped out of school in the tenth grade, he worked to his capacity during the fifth and sixth grades. Also, he lacked a significant history of convictions or juvenile adjudications. Various family members and friends testified as to their opinions that he did not display a violent temper, helped people, respected women, worked hard, and was not a person who displayed leadership qualities. At the time of the offense, Stumpf was twenty-three years old.

Stumpf declined to be sworn. He made an unsworn statement on his own behalf admitting he went to the Stouts' home armed with a pistol. He claimed that Wesley was the one who used the telephone. He admitted holding the Stouts at gunpoint but said he was frightened and nervous; that Mr. Stout lunged at him and "[t]he gun went off." He said Mr. Stout shoved him across the hall into another bedroom. Stumpf said that Mr. Stout, although shot in the head, was able to knock the guns from both his and Wesley's hands. Stumpf claimed that Wesley said "shoot him"; and that Stumpf looked down and saw Wesley's black Armi .25. Stumpf said "I picked Dan's gun up and I fired and then at that time Mr. Stout fell on the floor, rolled off the bed onto the floor." Stumpf said he went to the basement, backed the car out of the garage and was joined by Wesley. He denied shooting Mrs. Stout or being in the house when that happened. Stumpf said he was sorry for his acts.

The three-judge panel, after hearing

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the evidence, issued a separate opinion in which the judges unanimously concluded that the aggravating circumstance sufficiently outweighed the mitigating factors. Thus, the panel sentenced John David Stumpf to death.

On October 7, 1985, two of the three judges overruled Stumpf's motion for leave to withdraw his guilty plea or, in the alternative, to set aside his death sentence and order that a new sentencing hearing be conducted. The third judge had died during the interim.

On May 22,...

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    ...circumstances of the offense may have a mitigating impact, or they may not. * * * Either way, they must be considered." State v. Stumpf, 32 Ohio St.3d 95, 99, 512 N.E.2d 598 (1987).{¶ 105} Finally, the jury received instructions not to consider the murder as an aggravating circumstance. Whi......
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    • August 5, 2003
    ...the trial court should have taken into account the circumstances of the crime as a mitigating factor. He is correct. In State v. Stumpf, 32 Ohio St.3d 95, 512 N.E.2d 598, the Ohio Supreme Court held that: R.C. 2929.04(B) requires the jury, trial court, or three-judge panel to "consider and ......
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  • State v. Green, 98-913.
    • United States
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    ...of the offense are mitigating. State v. Lorraine (1993), 66 Ohio St.3d 414, 420, 613 N.E.2d 212, 218. See, also, State v. Stumpf (1987), 32 Ohio St.3d 95, 512 N.E.2d 598, paragraph one of the Finally, misconduct by the prosecutor did not permeate the trial. Considering all the circumstances......
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    ...the nature and circumstances to the level of an aggravating circumstance. We find no merit to this argument. In State v. Stumpf (1987), 32 Ohio St.3d 95, 512 N.E.2d 598, the Ohio Supreme Court held R.C. 2929.04(B) requires the jury, trial court, three-judge panel to 'consider and weigh agai......
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