Law School Case Brief
State v. Shaw - 2018-Ohio-403, 105 N.E.3d 569 (Ct. App.)
To prove tampering with evidence, in violation of R.C. 2921.12(A)(1), the State has to prove that the defendant: (1) had knowledge that an official proceeding or investigation was in progress or likely to be instituted; and (2) altered, destroyed, concealed, or removed the potential evidence; (3) for the purpose of impairing the potential evidence's availability or value in such proceeding or investigation.
Lavonte Hinchen testified at trial that he has two children with Whitley Harris, who was living with defendant Carlton Junior Shaw at the time of the events. Defendant pointed a pistol in Hinchen's direction and pulled the trigger. The gun misfired at first, but defendant eventually fired three to four shots. A policeman questioned defendant at the scene. Defendant denied he had a gun or shot a gun. Yet, while police were detaining defendant, other officers discovered his gun hidden in a wall in the basement of the apartment building. When Detective Arrif Shahid questioned defendant the following day, defendant admitted he owned a gun and that he fired it. The jury acquitted defendant of both counts of felonious assault but found him guilty of discharging a firearm on or near a prohibited premises and tampering with evidence. Defendant appealed his conviction.
Was defendant’s conviction for tampering with evidence supported by legally sufficient proof as required by state and federal due process?
There was sufficient evidence to support defendant's conviction for tampering with evidence, in violation of R.C. 2921.12(A)(1), as it could be inferred that defendant knew there was a strong likelihood that the police would soon arrive to investigate his shooting in broad daylight, he concealed the gun in the basement wall immediately after the shooting, and he lied about possessing it, such that knowledge under R.C. 2901.22(A) was established. The question as to whether defendant placed the gun in the wall solely for the purpose of securing it away from his girlfriend's children, as opposed to hiding it from the police, goes to defendant's credibility, not the sufficiency of the evidence.
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