Devonere Simmonds

Murder victims: Imran Ashgar, 34, & Quinten Prater, 22

Attempted murder victims: James Norvet, 21, & William Rudd, 39

Age at time of crimes: 17

Crime locations:  Central Ohio

Crime date: July 2013

Crimes:  Aggravated murder, spree-killing, attempted murder, aggravated robbery, & carjacking

Partners in crime: Nathaniel Brunner, Daniel Durham

Weapon: .22 cailber handgun & a shotgun

Murder method: Gunshots to the head

Murder motivation: Robbery

Convictions: Aggravated robbery, aggravated murder, attempted murder, weapon under disability, & murder

Sentence: Life without parole (LWOP) plus 48 years

Incarceration status: Ohio State Penitentiary

Offender Photo
Prison photo

Summary

Simmonds, 17, went on a massive violent crime spree involving robbery, carjacking, and murder in the summer of 2013. During the spree, he shot and killed Quinten Prater during a robbery. A couple days later, he shot and killed store clerk Imran Ashgar during another robbery. In Imran’s case, Simmonds shot the victim in the eye, left, and then returned to shoot the wounded man in the head. He also shot and injured James Norvet and William Rudd. The spree killer was sentenced to LWOP plus 48 years.

Details

Prior to the 2013 crime spree, Simonds had an extensive criminal history.

A Montgomery County Juvenile Court official said Simmonds had been locked up and put on probation for an aggravated robbery and for carrying a concealed weapon. He was first put on probation in Montgomery County in May of 2012 and most recently was locked up from February to May of this year after his case was transferred to Franklin County.

Teen linked to Columbus crimes has Dayton criminal past

In July 2013 17-year-old Simmonds went on a massive crime spree that left two people injured and two people dead. On July 21, he shot James Norvet and Quinten Porter, injuring James and killing Quintin.

In an opening statement on Tuesday, Assistant Prosecutor Elizabeth Geraghty told the jury that Prater, carrying a backpack containing marijuana, was on the sidewalk talking to Simmonds and the accomplice while Norvet sat at the wheel of a car parked on the street.

She said Simmonds got in the back seat of the car and shot Norvet in the back of the head with a handgun, then got out and pursued Prater with the accomplice. It is unclear which of them used a shotgun to shoot Prater in the back of his head. Simmonds and the accomplice ran away after taking items from both victims, she said.

Norvet, 21 at the time, recovered from the shooting but still carries the bullet in his head.

Columbus Dispatch

It didn’t stop there. On July 24, Simmonds, along with Nathaniel Brunner, and Darrel Durham, robbed the Convenience Plus Food Mart in Columbus. Imran Ashgar, a store clerk who was working behind the counter, was shot and killed.

Simmonds basically executed the store clerk by shooting him in the eye once and then returning to shoot the clerk in the head a second time after the clerk briefly survived the first shot.

State v. Simmonds, 2015-Ohio-4460

The violence continued. On July 27 Simmonds and Brunner were driving on I-70 when their car broke down. They went to a truck stop in London where they found William Rudd, who was putting gas in his vehicle. They attempted to murder William by shooting him in the face. The assailants then robbed him of his truck and fled. William miraculously survived.

Simmonds was arrested and charged. In December of 2014 he was convicted of murdering Imran and attempting to murder William. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole plus 48 years.

As it relates to the Ashgar killing, the jury found Simmonds guilty of aggravated robbery, aggravated murder and murder, all with firearm specifications. As it relates to the Rudd shooting, the jury found Simmonds guilty of aggravated robbery, attempted murder, and felonious assault, all with firearm specifications. The trial court separately found Simmonds guilty of having a weapon while under disability.

At sentencing, Simmonds’s counsel submitted and discussed two psychological reports explaining Simmonds’s low intellectual functioning, emotional immaturity, vulnerability, drug use, family background, and negative influences, including his father, and she also discussed relevant Supreme Court precedent addressing juvenile offenders and intellectual disabilities. The trial court sentenced Simmonds to LWOP for the aggravated murder of Ashgar, to be served consecutively to a total of 48 years on the other counts and specifications.

MEMORANDUM OF PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE OPPOSING JURISDICTION

In July 2015, the trial for the murder of Quinten and the attempted murder of James began. After a half day of testimony, Simmonds decided to plead guilty. He was sentenced to 15 years to life for the murder along with 11 years for the attempted murder to be served concurrently. During sentencing James told the judge: “I still don’t know exactly why this happened or what caused somebody to do that. I still have a bullet in me that I’m going to have to live with the rest of my life now.”

Simmonds appealed to Ohio’s Tenth District Court of Appeals. He argued, among other things, that his LWOP sentence was cruel and unusual and violated the Eighth Amendment. The court upheld his conviction and sentence.

{¶ 28} Nothing in the record before us supports an argument that a life sentence
for Simmonds constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The Supreme Court of Ohio has made clear the constitutionality of a sentence of life without parole: “As applied to a juvenile found guilty of aggravated murder under R.C. 2929.03(A), then, Ohio’s sentencing scheme does not fall afoul of [Miller v. Alabama, _ U.S. , 132 S.Ct. 2455 (2012)], because the sentence of life without parole is discretionary. Nor is our criminal procedure flawed under [Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010)] and Miller by failing to take into account that a defendant is a youthful offender.” State v. Long, 2014-Ohio-849,
¶ 19. A defendant’s youth is a mitigating factor for a court to consider when sentencing. Long at ¶ 19. The trial court was made well aware of Simmonds’ youth and even noted his youth and emotional immaturity at sentencing. (R. 187, Tr. 828.)
{¶ 29} Not many years ago, many states were still executing juveniles who
committed homicides before they turned 18. The case which barred such executions, Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005), changed that, but gave no indication that a life sentence for a juvenile who committed such crimes constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

State v. Simmonds, 2015-Ohio-4460

In 2015 Simmonds filed a petition for post-conviction relief with the trial court. He argued that his trial lawyers were ineffective and failed to appropriately prepare for and present evidence of mitigating circumstances during sentencing. The trial court denied the petition, finding that counsel were not deficient and that Simmonds failed to show prejudice. The Tenth District Court of Appeals affirmed the decision.

{¶ 25} Simmonds argues that his trial counsel failed to investigate and present
appropriate evidence of his lack of maturity, the effect of negative influences on his life, and his potential for rehabilitation through experience and aging. (Simmonds Brief at 20-26.) Had his counsel not failed to prepare and present appropriate information, asserts Simmonds, there is a reasonable probability that he would not have been sentenced to life in prison without parole. Id. The State counters, in arguments that roughly parallel the trial court’s decision, that Simmonds’ attorneys did present information on those topics and that Simmonds’ offenses were so egregious that no amount of information or testimony on those topics would have altered the result. (State Brief at 45-53, 56-59.)


{¶ 26} Even if we were to assume that counsel’s mitigation presentation was
deficient to the constitutionally significant degree required by Strickland, we are not convinced that the other element of Strickland can be met in this case. Simmonds, even before these events, had a startlingly voluminous criminal history for someone of his age, including assault, carrying a concealed weapon, burglary, and aggravated burglary. (Davis Aff. at ¶ 23, 35.) During the pendency of the action, Simmonds was transferred to the Franklin County Jail for acts that included physically attacking and spitting on staff members of the youth detention facility, wiping feces on the window of his cell to prevent
observation, and making a weapon out of a sock and piece of concrete. Id. at ¶ 24; Jan. 13, 2014 Order Granting Transfer of Custody 13JU-10445 at 2.


{¶ 27} The crimes Simmonds committed are more than disturbing. In the space of six days, he point blank shot four people in the head for no reason other than they had something he wanted. When Simmonds robbed Ashgar, he shot him in the eye. When Ashgar did not die, Simmonds returned and without provocation delivered a cold, fatal shot to Ashgar’s head. When two victims survived (because Simmonds thought they were dead), Simmonds was at least relieved of an indictment for four aggravated murders; instead it was two. Simmonds’ behavior is so far down the scale of acceptable social behavior that the prospect of improvement upon maturity is exceedingly remote. It is not unreasonable to find that Simmonds belongs to a class of offenders that the United States Supreme Court has termed “the rarest of juvenile offenders, [] whose crimes reflect permanent incorrigibility.” Montgomery at 734. We are not convinced that any amount of mitigation of the sort proposed by the postconviction petition and supporting materials would have stood a reasonable probability of changing Simmonds’ sentence. Having found that Simmonds cannot prove he was prejudiced by his counsel’s performance, we need not reach the issue of determining whether Simmonds’ counsel “made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the ‘counsel’ guaranteed the defendant by the Sixth Amendment.” Strickland at 687. See also Bradley at 143, quoting Strickland at 697.

{¶ 29} Juvenile offenders facing life without parole are similar to adult offenders facing the death penalty in some respects and, therefore, care is required before imposing the ultimate sanction on them. Under the existing statutory scheme, a trial court is required to consider the youth of the offender and it must determine that the “crimes reflect permanent incorrigibility” before imposing life without parole. Montgomery; Long at paragraphs one and two of the syllabus. No law in existence in Ohio requires an identical level of mitigation as might be presented in an adult death penalty case, and it is not per se prejudicial for a trial court to not afford such procedures. In Simmonds’ cases, his actions were of such a serious nature that he does not appear to have prospects for significant or lasting rehabilitation. His crimes could well be described as reflecting permanent incorrigibility. Simmonds’ counsel’s opportunity to present a more robust picture of mitigation to the trial court at sentencing would not likely have yielded a different result.

State v. Simmonds, 2017-Ohio-2739

Simmonds then appealed to the Supreme Court of Ohio. The Court declined to hear his case. He then filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court. SCOTUS also declined to hear the case. Simmonds is currently incarcerated at the Ohio State Penitentiary, a supermax prison.

Sources

Teen linked to Columbus crimes has Dayton criminal past

MEMORANDUM OF PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE OPPOSING JURISDICTION

Gun said to link young suspects to 2nd killing by The Columbus Dispatch

 Aug 1, 2013

One of the bullets that killed a South Side youth last week was fired from a .22-caliber handgun found with Nathaniel Brunner and Devonere Simmonds when they were arrested in Dayton on Saturday, Columbus police say.

One of the bullets that killed a South Side youth last week was fired from a .22-caliber handgun found with Nathaniel Brunner and Devonere Simmonds when they were arrested in Dayton on Saturday, Columbus police say.

Brunner, 18, had the loaded revolver in his lap as he slept in the front passenger seat of a car that had been taken from a man at gunpoint in Madison County that morning, police said yesterday. Simmonds was asleep beside Brunner, in the driver’s seat of the idling Dodge Magnum.

Ballistics tests this week revealed the link between the gun and a bullet in the body of 17-year-old Lamont Frazier, police said. Frazier had been shot three times, but only one bullet was found, they said.

The evidence tying the pair to Frazier’s killing was revealed in Franklin County Municipal Court, where Judge Andrea C. Peeples ordered Brunner held on a murder charge in lieu of $500,000 bail. Brunner didn’t attend the brief proceeding.

Peeples already had set bail for him on Tuesday at $1.5 million in the July 24 slaying of South Side carryout clerk Imran Ashgar. Brunner is being held in the county jail.

Simmonds also didn’t attend his preliminary hearing yesterday in Juvenile Court, but Assistant County Prosecutor Dennis Hogan served him, his mother and his attorney with a motion asking the court to transfer his case to adult court.

Simmonds’ attorney, Jo Kaiser, waived his appearance so news reporters couldn’t photograph and videotape him.

Simmonds was brought back to Columbus from Dayton on Tuesday and is being held in the Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center. He is charged with two delinquency counts of murder, in Ashgar’s shooting at an E. Livingston Avenue carryout and Frazier’s death a few hours later at Oakwood Avenue and Forest Street.

In Ohio, juveniles charged with delinquency murder who are 16 or 17 at the time of the offense are transferred to adult court at the prosecution’s request if a juvenile-court judge determines there is sufficient evidence that they probably committed the crime. Juveniles can’t be sentenced to death, even if convicted in adult court.

A hearing to consider Hogan’s motion was set for Monday before Juvenile Court Judge Kim A. Browne, but the case probably will be continued while evidence is gathered and other charges are considered.

Homicide detectives have learned that “a person reported being involved in a conversation with Brunner and Simmonds when they admitted getting into an argument with and shooting Lamont Frazier,” police said in court documents.

Police have not said what the argument was about, but Frazier’s grandmother has said he might have known too much about other crimes Brunner and Simmonds committed.

Authorities say the two probably also will be charged with shooting a Virginia man in Madison County to steal his car and in a double shooting in Columbus on July 21 that killed one man and seriously wounded another.

Man pleads guilty to a second murder from 2013 spree by The Columbus Dispatch

By John Futty, The Columbus Dispatch Posted Jul 14, 2015 

Seven months after he was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for killing a convenience-store clerk, Devonere Simmonds decided not to go through an additional trial for the fatal shooting that started a weeklong rampage. On Tuesday, Simmonds, 19, pleaded guilty to murder in the death of Quinten Prater and attempted murder in the wounding of James Norvet III after jurors heard a half-day of testimony in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

Seven months after he was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for killing a convenience-store clerk, Devonere Simmonds decided not to go through an additional trial for the fatal shooting that started a weeklong rampage.

On Tuesday, Simmonds, 19, pleaded guilty to murder in the death of Quinten Prater and attempted murder in the wounding of James Norvet III after jurors heard a half-day of testimony in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

Judge Chris Brown imposed a mandatory sentence of 15 years to life for the murder and 11 years for the attempted murder, to run concurrently. Prosecution and defense attorneys recommended the sentence as part of a plea agreement.

“I just didn’t want to go through this for real no more,” Simmonds told the judge. “You know, I know what I did, I know what I did was wrong, so I just had to plead guilty for everyone. And, you know, I don’t want to keep dragging their family and my family back here every day for this.”

Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said robbery was the motive in the shootings of Prater and Norvet in the 700 block of Lilley Avenue on the South Side on the afternoon of July 21, 2013.

In December, a Franklin County jury convicted him of:

  • Aggravated murder in the death of Imran Ashgar, 34, who was shot in the face as he worked behind the counter at the Convenience Plus Food Mart on E. Livingston Avenue on July 24, 2013.
  • Attempted murder in the wounding of William Joseph Rudd, 39, who was shot in the face during a carjacking at a truck stop along I-70 in Madison County on July 27, 2013.

Simmonds, the triggerman in both shootings, was tried with co-defendant Nathaniel Brunner, who also was convicted of the crimes. Brunner, 20, was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 78 years.

Simmonds also was charged in the fatal shooting of Lamont Frazier, 17, whose body was found on a sidewalk at Oakwood Avenue and Forest Street on July 25, 2013.

O’Brien’s office dropped those charges, saying that additional evidence was being sought. O’B rien said on Tuesday that the investigation continues in that case.

Witnesses said Simmonds had an accomplice in the Lilley Avenue shootings, but no one else has been charged, which is why he was being tried separately in the case.

He was 17 when the crimes were committed, but a Juvenile Court judge transferred the cases to adult court.

In an opening statement on Tuesday, Assistant Prosecutor Elizabeth Geraghty told the jury that Prater, carrying a backpack containing marijuana, was on the sidewalk talking to Simmonds and the accomplice while Norvet sat at the wheel of a car parked on the street.

She said Simmonds got in the back seat of the car and shot Norvet in the back of the head with a handgun, then got out and pursued Prater with the accomplice. It is unclear which of them used a shotgun to shoot Prater in the back of his head. Simmonds and the accomplice ran away after taking items from both victims, she said.

Norvet, 21 at the time, recovered from the shooting but still carries the bullet in his head.

“I still don’t know exactly why this happened or what caused somebody to do that,” Norvet told the judge before sentencing. “I still have a bullet in me that I’m going to have to live with the rest of my life now.

“I’ve been through the physical therapy, the memory losses, everything. But at the same time, I feel like it’s made me stronger.”

Geraghty said Columbus police officers, alerted by witnesses that two teenagers ran east from the shooting toward Berkeley Road, found a shotgun in a backyard and a handgun in a trash container. Both guns contained Simmonds’ DNA, she said, and a shell casing at the scene of the shooting matched the handgun.

After the hearing on Tuesday, defense attorney Jo Kaiser said Simmonds was “extremely concerned” that his mother, Maya Foster, might be called by the prosecution to testify. She had called police to report that her son fled her home after telling her what he had done on Lilley Avenue.

Kaiser and her co-counsel, Nancy Wonnell, said Simmonds decided to plead guilty against their advice.

Simmonds has a low IQ and “does not have the sophistication to deal with the complexities of the case,” Kaiser said. “I was loath to endorse (a plea) that I’m not sure was completely understood by my client.”

JUVENILE SUSPECT IN TWO COLUMBUS MURDERS AND MADISON COUNTY TRAVELCENTERS OF AMERICA CRIME SPREE INDICTED

State v. Simmonds, 2015-Ohio-4460

State v. Simmonds, 2017 Ohio 2739

https://appgateway.drc.ohio.gov/OffenderSearch/Search/Details/A717277

Police Investigate Deadly Shooting At Columbus Carryout