Accomplice, Testimony of


Franklin County Criminal Law Casebook

Reproduced with permission from:
Timothy E. Pierce and the Franklin County Public Defender Office

R.C. 2923.03(D) -- Complicity, special instruction when alleged accomplice testifies.
State v. Essa, 194 Ohio App. 3d 208, 2011-Ohio-2513, ¶52-64 – Two witnesses testified pursuant to a plea deal, but in the court’s view neither acted as an accomplice or coconspirator. The trial court was not obliged to instruct the jury on accomplice testimony in accordance with R.C. 2923.03(D). Both men helped the defendant as he fled the country following the poisoning death of his wife. Both might be viewed as accessories after the fact, but Ohio does not make such individuals accomplices.
State v. Yarbrough, 104 Ohio St. 3d 1, 2004-Ohio-6087, ¶ 77-83 -- The prosecution believed their witness was not involved in the homicides being tried, but the defendant had claimed that he was in his statement to the police. Based on the defendant's assertions, the accomplice testimony instruction was required, but the court declines to reverse as plain error.
State v. Leonard, Lucas App. No. L-01-1420, 2003-Ohio-3100 -- Plain error found in failure to give accomplice testimony instruction. Failure to request instruction amounts to ineffective assistance of counsel. Also see State v. Burkhammer (Jan. 11, 1991), Lake App. No. 89-L-14-096.
State v. Lett, 160 Ohio App. 3d 46, 2005-Ohio-1308 -- Fellow passenger in a car full of people out to "rob someone" testified against appellant. Court erroneously refused to give accomplice testimony instruction. Also see State v. Pope, Cuyahoga App. No. 81321, 2003-Ohio-3647.
State v. Perry, 157 Ohio App. 3d 443, 2004-Ohio-3020, ¶ 16 -- Unless a witness has been indicted, the court is not required to give the accomplice testimony instruction.
State v. Williams (1996), 117 Ohio App. 3d 488, 494-495 -- R.C. 2923.03(D) instruction was mandatory, even if the trial judge thought it was "over the line." But use of somewhat weakened language held to have complied with obligation to instruct in substantially the same language.
State v. Sneed (1992), 63 Ohio St. 3d 3, 9 fn. 2 -- The instruction provided in R.C. 2923.03(D) is required only when the offense was committed after the 9-17-86 effective date of the statute.
State v. McKinney (March 6, 1990), Franklin County No. 89AP-466 et. seq., unreported (1990 Opinions 752) -- It is plain error not to instruct the jury in accordance with R.C. 2923.03(D), when proof of complicity rests heavily on the testimony of accomplices.
State v. Woods (1983), 13 Ohio App. 3d 49 -- Headnote 2: "As contemplated by R.C. 2923.03(D), an accomplice is one who could be indicted and punished for complicity." (Same result follows from amended provision.)
State v. Webb (1991), 72 Ohio App. 3d 749, 753 -- Accomplice instruction is not required where the thief is a witness at the trial of person who received the stolen property. Cases to the contrary cited in opinion.
State v. Ferguson (1986), 30 Ohio App. 3d 171 -- "It is error for the court to prohibit the defense during cross-examination from impeaching the testimony of a witness by showing that (1) the witness was also indicted for the same offenses, and (2) the witness had been granted immunity in exchange for his testimony."

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Published by Timothy E. Pierce
Copyright © Franklin County Public Defender and Timothy E. Pierce, 2015
Contents may not be duplicated without express permission.