COLUMBUS — A convicted double murderer’s complaint against the judge who he claimed failed to rule on his motion seeking the dismissal of the charges against him was “fatally defective” because he named the wrong judge, the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously ruled Wednesday.
Tyrone Johnson, 36, was convicted in 2007 of fatally shooting Tammy Cappelletty, 30, and Juan Ybarro, 24, in the backs of their heads during an apparent drug deal gone awry in North Toledo. He was sentenced to 20 years to life for each murder, and won’t be eligible to seek parole until 2049.
Johnson sued, claiming that then-Lucas County Common Pleas Judge James Jensen failed to rule on his motion to dismiss, a motion that Judge Jensen said had apparently never been filed. In his complaint, Johnson, acting as his own attorney, attached what he purported to be a time-stamped copy of the motion.
But the Supreme Court noted that Judge Jensen had moved on to the Toledo-based 6th District Court of Appeals before Johnson filed his complaint. Common Pleas Judge Michael Goulding is now assigned to Johnson’s case.
“As Judge Jensen cannot now — and could not when the complaint was filed — perform the act requested in the complaint, he cannot be under a clear legal duty, as required for a writ of mandamus to issue,” the Supreme Court ruled. “The case must be dismissed.”
The drug deal was taking place in Ms. Cappelletty’s car, but involved Mr. Ybarro, also in the front seat, and Johnson and Latrel Brown, 32, in the back seat.
At trial, Johnson claimed Brown fired the shots, but Brown testified against Johnson. Brown was sentenced to seven years for aggravated robbery with a gun specification and was paroled last year.
Johnson is in the Toledo Correction Institution on two counts of aggravated murder and one count of aggravated robbery.
Contact Jim Provance at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-221-0496.