Kyle Patrick

Victim: Michael Abighanem, 27

Age at time of murder: 17

Crime date: April 27, 2012

Crime location: Youngstown

Partner in crime: Reginald Whitfield, 21

Crimes: Aggravated murder, armed robbery, & tampering with evidence

Murder method: Gunshot

Weapon: Firearm

Murder motivation: Robbery

Sentence: 34 years to life later reduced to 25 years to life by Senate Bill 256
Incarceration status:
Incarcerated at the Mansfield Correctional Institution

Offender Photo
Patrick
Michael W.  Abighanem
Michael

Summary of the crime

Patrick and Whitfield murdered Michael during an orchestrated robbery.

Details

Must Court Consider Juvenile’s Age When Imposing Life with Possibility of Parole Sentence?

State of Ohio v. Kyle Patrick, Case no. 2019-0655
Seventh District Court of Appeals (Mahoning County)

ISSUE: Is it unconstitutional to sentence a juvenile to life in prison with the possibility parole while not explicitly considering youth as a factor?

BACKGROUND:
In its 2014 State v. Long decision, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a trial court violates a juvenile’s Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment if the court imposes a life sentence without the possibility of parole without considering youth as mitigating evidence . Kyle Patrick argues that imposing a life sentence, even with parole after a term of years, also violates a juvenile’s constitutional rights if the trial court didn’t consider his youth at sentencing.

In April 2012, Michael Abighamen and his friend Michael Nakoneczny went to a home in Youngstown to sell a video game system and laptop computer. At the home were four men, including Kyle Patrick, who was 17 years old at the time, and Reginald Whitfield. Whitfield directed Abighamen upstairs to demonstrate on a television that the game system was operable. Patrick was upstairs hiding in a closet. Either Whitfield or Patrick shot Abighamen. Nakoneczny ran from the house.

Police discovered Patrick’s gun and the discarded merchandise in a dumpster. Police were able to match the bullet that killed Abighamen to Patrick’s gun. Nakoneczny testified he heard no signs of a struggle before shots were fired.

Plea Deal Erodes
Mahoning County prosecutors filed a juvenile complaint against Patrick for aggravated murder and aggravated robbery. Based on his age and the nature of the charges, the juvenile court automatically bound him over to the Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to be tried as an adult.

Whitfield and Patrick were offered plea agreements. Whitfield pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 13 years in prison. In 2014, Patrick agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of murder as well as aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence. Prosecutors recommended he receive a 16-years-to-life prison term. Patrick agreed to the terms and pled guilty. Patrick then attempted to withdraw his plea, but the judge refused. He appealed his sentence, and the Seventh District Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision.

Patrick went to trial on the original charges and was convicted of all of them. Prosecutors noted recent court decisions raised issues with sentencing juveniles to life in prison without the possibility of parole, and recommended the next-sternest sentence — life in prison with parole eligibility after 30 years. The trial judge adopted the recommendation and also imposed a three-year mandatory firearm specification, which makes Patrick eligible for parole after 33 years.

Patrick appealed this sentence to the Seventh District, which affirmed the decision.  He appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case. To comply with state directives during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Court will hear Stiner’s case via  teleconference.

Court Fails to Consider Age, Offender Argues
Ohio law permits a trial judge to select from a range of sentences for those convicted of aggravated murder, ranging from life without parole to 20 years to life. Patrick contends the trial court looked solely at the facts of the case when selecting the 30-years-to-life sentence, and didn’t indicate a consideration of his youth. The offender points to numerous U.S. and Ohio Supreme Court decisions in the past two decades emphasizing that minors should be treated differently than adults when it comes to criminal sentencing because of their different emotional and intellectual development.

Patrick notes the Seventh District ruled that under R.C. 2929.12, the trial judge must consider several factors when determining a sentence, but it doesn’t require a judge to consider the age of the defendant. He argues that while the law may not specify the consideration of age, the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires it, and a trial judge must consider age when sentencing. He maintains that it is illogical that under Long a trial court must consider a juvenile’s age when sentencing a minor to life in prison without parole, but doesn’t have to consider age when sentencing a juvenile to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Considering that the judge was willing to sentence Patrick to 16 years to life under a plea agreement, Patrick maintains that it is cruel and unusual punishment for the state to impose the longest life term possible for his conviction after he went to trial. He argues the court must provide sentences to juveniles that allow a meaningful opportunity for potential rehabilitation and change. Because he will not be eligible for parole until he is in his 50s, he is unconstitutionally deprived of the opportunity for change, Patrick asserts.

Prosecutors Maintain Sentence Is Appropriate
The Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office — through an amicus curiae brief — argue the case should be considered improvidently allowed. They maintain that under R.C. 2953.08(D)(3), a single sentence for aggravated murder isn’t reviewable by the Supreme Court.

The prosecutor notes in its brief that under U.S. Supreme Court rulings a state isn’t required to guarantee the release of a juvenile convicted of murder, but only to provide “some meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.” The prosecutor argues the trial court has provided a meaningful opportunity to Patrick by selecting the 33-years-to-life sentence.

The prosecutor also notes Ohio trial courts are guided by R.C. 2929.11 and R.C. 2929.12 when considering sentences and those laws require they take into account the possibility for rehabilitation. The trial court isn’t required to detail in its findings what was considered when sentencing a juvenile to less than life without the possibility of parole, the office asserts. The trial judge had the discretion to sentence Patrick to 33 years to life and that sentence doesn’t violate his constitutional rights, the office states. Additionally, the prosecutor notes that other state high courts faced with the same issue haven’t required a trial judge to make findings on the record about the consideration of age when sentencing a juvenile to life with the possibility of parole.

Attorney General Make Similar Arguments
The Court has granted the attorney general’s office  the right to share oral argument time with the county prosecutor. In its amicus brief, the attorney general’s office makes arguments similar to the prosecutor in favor of affirming Patrick’s sentence.

The attorney general notes that both the prosecutor and Patrick raised the issue of his age and his youthful inexperience before the trial court issued its sentence. The attorney general argues that when a court record is silent as to its reasoning, it is presumed the trial court considered all the arguments of the parties before ruling. The office concludes the trial court did all that was required by the law and issued a constitutional sentence.

Friend-of-the-Court Briefs Submitted
A joint amicus brief supporting Patrick’s position has been submitted by the Central Juvenile Defender Center, Children’s Law Center, Cuyahoga County Public Defender’s Office, , Juvenile Law Center,  Ohio Public Defender’s Office,  National Juvenile Defender Center, and Schubert Center for Child Studies.

 Dan Trevas

Docket entries, memoranda, briefs (including amicus briefs), and other information about this case may be accessed through the case docket.

Contacts
Representing Kyle Patrick: John Juhasz, 330.758.7700

Representing the State of Ohio from the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office: Ralph Rivera, 330.740.2330

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Youngstown man sentenced to prison again for video game killing

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A Youngstown man was sentenced to prison for the second time in the shooting death of a man over a video game.

Kyle Patrick will spend life in prison and be eligible for parole after 34 years for the death of Michael Abighanem in April of 2012.

Police say Abighanem went to a house on the city’s west side to sell a video game system and a laptop. Police said Patrick and another man, Reginald Whitfield, shot Abighanem during what prosecutors called a robbery set up.

Abighanem’s fiancee and mother spoke before the judge revealed the sentence.

“Through all of this, the hardest part is watching my children, especially my daughter who’s 3 and inseparable from her father grow up without knowing exactly what has happened,” said Abighanem’s fiancee. “She literally, as a 3-year-old, has had to live with something that nobody should never have to live with but at her age, especially her. My son, he doesn’t even know what a great man his father was.”

Abighanem’s mother said Abighanem was “one of the kindest men” and was planning on getting married before he was killed.

“My family and I must now pick up the pieces,” she said.

Patrick’s mom also spoke, saying her son just made a bad decision due to hanging out with the wrong crowd.

“When this began, he was a sheltered 17-year-old boy. He was a wannabe gangster who thought that hanging around with these 20-year-old street thugs would make him cool, and he made a bad decision,” she said.

Patrick had pleaded guilty in the case in 2014 and was sentenced to 16 years in prison but filed a motion to have his guilty plea withdrawn.

Judge John Durkin denied that motion, but Patrick appealed and the plea was vacated.

Ohio Supreme Court orders new sentencing for convicted Youngstown killer

Kyle Patrick was 17 years old when he shot and killed Michael Abighanem at a home on Silliman Street where the victim had gone to sell a video game console and laptop.

The Ohio Supreme Court Tuesday has remanded the case of Kyle Patrick of Youngstown, convicted of aggravated murder and robbery in a 2012 fatal shooting, back to Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for resentencing. The reason: “the record…does not demonstrate the trial court considered Patrick’s youth as a mitigating factor.”

Patrick was 17 years old when he shot and killed Michael Abighanem at a home on Silliman Street where the victim had gone to sell a video game console and laptop. Patrick was convicted in 2017 — the second time he was found guilty after a 2014 conviction and a subsequent 16-years to life prison sentence was overturned. The Seventh District Court of Appeals ruled that the presiding judge in the case should not have had refused to allow Patrick to withdraw a guilty plea. The same appellate court upheld the second conviction — a ruling that the Ohio Supreme Court reversed with Tuesday’s ruling.

 Patrick is currently serving a life prison sentence with parole eligibility after 33 years.

The justices wrote that the lower court had to “separately consider the youth of a juvenile offender as a mitigating factor before imposing a life sentence… even if that sentence includes eligibility for parole.”  Patrick’s attorney, John Juhasz, had argued that there was nothing in the lower court’s record to indicate that was the case, which made it a constitutional issue, one that the higher court accepted. 21 News was unable to reach Juhasz for comment.

Tuesday’s ruling requires a resentencing of Patrick, but does not overturn his conviction. Reginald Whitfield, a convicted accomplice, is currently serving a 13-year prison term for involuntary manslaughter and robbery.

State v. Patrick

IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF OHIO

SEVENTH APPELLATE DISTRICT

{¶2} Appellant was initially charged in the Mahoning County Juvenile Court as he was 17 years old at the time the events occurred. On August 24, 2012, the juvenile court transferred the matter to the general division. On September 27, 2013, appellant was indicted and charged with: aggravated murder in violation of R.C. 2903.01(B)(F), an unclassified felony; aggravated robbery in violation of R.C. 2911.01(A)(1)(C), a first-degree felony; tampering with evidence in violation of R.C. 2921.12(A)(1)(B), a third-degree felony; and two firearm specifications pursuant to R.C. 2941.145(A).

{¶3} On February 10, 2014, the date of trial, appellant and plaintiff-appellee, the State of Ohio, engaged in last-minute plea negotiations. The state agreed to amend the aggravated murder charge to murder in violation of R.C. 2903.02(A)(D), an unclassified felony. Appellant pled guilty to the amended murder charge and the other charges. The trial court accepted appellant’s guilty plea and scheduled a sentencing hearing for March 10, 2014

{¶4} On February 18, 2014, appellant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. The trial court denied the motion and sentenced appellant to 16 years to life imprisonment.

{5} On July 16, 2014, appellant appealed to this court asserting one assignment of error; the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. On June 1, 2016, we issued our opinion and judgment entry on appellant’s first appeal. We found merit with appellant’s assignment of error, vacated his guilty plea, and remanded the matter for further proceedings. State v. Patrick, 7th Dist. No. 14 MA 93, 2016-Ohio-3283, ¶ 62.

¶6} On remand, the trial court scheduled a jury trial for April 24, 2017. Trial was held on all of the original charges, including aggravated murder. At trial, the state called 15 witnesses and submitted numerous exhibits in its case-in-chief. The state’s theory of the case was that appellant and two co-defendants planned to steal, using force, various items from Michael Abighanem. Appellant brought a gun with him for this purpose. During the planned robbery, appellant shot and killed Abighanem. Appellant then took the items from Abighanem and tried to clean Abighanem’s blood off of them by using bleach

¶7} The jury convicted appellant on all counts. At sentencing, the trial court merged appellant’s aggravated robbery conviction and its firearm specification with the aggravated murder conviction and its firearm specification. The trial court sentenced appellant to life imprisonment with parole possibility after 30 years for aggravated murder plus the mandatory three years of incarceration for the firearm specification. The trial court sentenced appellant to three years of incarceration for tampering with evidence. As the trial court did not make the statutory findings for consecutive sentences, appellant’s total sentence was life imprisonment with parole possibility after 33 years. The trial court memorialized appellant’s sentence in a judgment entry dated May 4, 2017. Appellant timely filed this appeal on May 15, 2017.

alled 15 witnesses and submitted numerous exhibits in its case-in-chief. The state’s theory of the case was that appellant and two co-defendants planned to steal, using force, various items from Michael Abighanem. Appellant brought a gun with him for this purpose. During the planned robbery, appellant shot and killed Abighanem. Appellant then took the items from Abighanem and tried to clean Abighanem’s blood off of them by using bleach.

See also Prosecutors oppose early release of man serving time for robbery-related Youngstown shooting