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9th District affirms convictions in fatal Akron bar shooting

Legal News Reporter

Published: January 15, 2020

The 9th District Court of Appeals recently affirmed the convictions in a fatal shooting that occurred outside an Akron bar.
After a jury trial, Queitin Tyler appealed his convictions for murder, felony murder, two counts of felonious assault, carrying a concealed weapon, and four attendant firearm specifications.
Late one evening, two men were shot outside the tavern. The first man, D.H., suffered a fatal wound and collapsed in a parking lot just south of the bar. The second man, D.C., sustained a non-fatal wound and managed to run several blocks on foot. The police intercepted D.C. as they responded to the area and learned that the shooting had occurred at a nearby bar.
Security footage helped police pinpoint a suspect as well as four individuals who appeared to be his friends. All of their identities were unclear, however, so the police used the security footage to create still shots of each person. While withholding the still of the suspect, they then published the remaining stills and asked those individuals to come forward. All four individuals responded within two days, and officers interviewed them at the station. As a result of those interviews and additional investigation, the police identified Tyler as the shooter.
A Summit County trial court judge sentenced Tyler to 23 years in prison.
On appeal, Tyler argued the convictions are against the manifest weight of the credible evidence, but a 9th District appellate panel disagreed.
On the witness stand, Tyler admitted shooting the two men, but said he did so in self-defense.
Tyler testified that he went to the bar that evening with a few friends and tried to buy a cigarette from the victims. Tyler said the taller victim then began harassing him and ultimately threatened to kill him, flashing a pistol that was tucked into his waistband. Tyler claimed he went back inside and did not speak with any of the security guards or otherwise seek help because he was afraid and just wanted to leave.
Because the victims were stationed at the bar’s only exit, Tyler decided to borrow a gun from his male friend and flash the gun at the victims as he left. As soon as he went to walk back outside, however, he said he heard two gunshots from his right and returned fire twice in that direction to protect himself.
Tyler said he initially lied to the police about not being at the bar and about not knowing the individuals he was there with that evening.
Tyler argued that the jury lost its way when it rejected his claim of self-defense. He claimed one of the detective was not a credible witness because his testimony largely relied on hearsay and his own interpretation of what happened that evening. Tyler also argues that the jury should have inferred, based on the surviving victim’s failure to testify, that his testimony would not have favored the state.
Tyler added that the police found a loaded handgun nearby the body of D.H., the victim who died.
Appellate Judge Julie Schafer noted that because former R.C. 2901.05(A) applied at the time of trial, it was Tyler’s burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he acted in self-defense.
“Although the police found a handgun near D.H.’s body, J.R. witnessed Tyler’s interaction with the two victims and testified that he never saw the victims display a weapon or otherwise threaten Tyler,” Schafer said in her opinion. “He also testified that one person fired a gun from the doorway of the bar’s main entrance, not that two different people fired guns. The jury heard testimony that Tyler repeatedly lied to the police and, prior to trial, never claimed to have acted in self-defense.
“Further, the jury saw the security video in which Tyler removed his left hand from his sweatshirt pocket and raised his left arm as he was breeching the doorway of the bar’s main entrance. The jury reasonably could have found that Tyler’s dishonesty and the video negated his claim of self-defense.”
Appellate judges Donna Carr and Jennifer Hensal concurred. The case is cited State v. Tyler, 2019-Ohio-4661.