Jeronique Cunningham Ohio Death Row

Jeronique Cunningham

Jeronique Cunningham was sentenced to death by the State of Ohio for two murders. According to court documents Jeronique Cunningham and Cleveland Jackson would go into a home where they would take a group of people at gunpoint hostage. Jeronique Cunningham and Cleveland Jackson would fire into the group killing Leneshia Williams, 17, and Jala Grant, 3. Jeronique Cunningham and Cleveland Jackson would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death.

Ohio Death Row Inmate List

Jeronique Cunningham 2021 Information

Number A428323

DOB 08/13/1972

Gender Male Race Black

Admission Date 06/28/2002 Institution Chillicothe Correctional Institution

Status INCARCERATED

Cleveland Jackson 2021 Information

cleveland jackson ohio death row
Jeronique Cunningham Ohio Death Row

Number A429404

DOB 06/26/1978

Gender Male Race Black

Admission Date 08/09/2002

Institution Chillicothe Correctional Institution

Status INCARCERATED

Jeronique Cunningham More News

 In the early afternoon of January 3, 2002, Cunningham met his friend, Lashane (“Shane”) Liles, at the home of Cunningham’s sister, Tara Cunningham.   After discussing a drug transaction, Shane and Cunningham went to Shane’s apartment on East Eureka Street, in Lima, where Shane sold Cunningham crack cocaine.

{¶ 3} Later that afternoon, Tara saw Cunningham and Jackson.   According to Tara, Cunningham “was wiping off a gun and Jackson was wiping off a clip with bullets in it.”   Tara heard Jackson tell Cunningham that he was going to “hit a lick,” i.e., rob somebody, and Jackson mentioned Shane Liles.

{¶ 4} In the evening of January 3, Cunningham and Jackson went to Shane’s apartment.   Shane was not home, but several family members and friends were there.   Shane came home shortly thereafter, and Cunningham told Shane that Jackson wanted to purchase drugs.   Shane and Jackson then talked about drugs on the staircase near the living room.   While Shane and Jackson talked, Cunningham sat in the living room and watched a movie with teenagers Coron Liles and Dwight Goodloe Jr.

{¶ 5} As Shane and Jackson continued to talk, Cunningham stood up and ordered Coron and Goodloe into the kitchen.   When Coron and Goodloe did not immediately obey, Cunningham, who was wearing gloves, pulled out a gun and struck Coron in the face with the gun barrel, breaking his jaw.   When Cunningham hit Coron, Jackson pulled out his gun and aimed it at Shane.   Coron and Goodloe then ran into the kitchen followed by Cunningham pointing his gun at  them.   Tomeaka Grant, Armetta Robinson, James Grant, his three-year-old daughter, Jayla, and 17-year-old Leneshia Williams were already in the kitchen.

{¶ 6} Cunningham held the group at gunpoint.   The group huddled together against the back wall and tried to shield themselves behind the kitchen table.   Cunningham pushed the table and chairs away, locked the back door, and checked the basement for other people.   People in the group were crying and praying, and James repeatedly pleaded with Cunningham not to hurt Jayla.

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{¶ 7} Meanwhile, Jackson forced Shane upstairs and robbed him of money and drugs.   Jackson then tied Shane’s hands behind his back and forced him into the kitchen at gunpoint.   In the kitchen, the group was ordered to place money, jewelry, and watches on the table.   Cunningham and Jackson grabbed some items from the table and put them into their pockets.   Jackson believed that they had more money and asked Shane for the rest.   When Shane said that was all he had, Jackson shot Shane in the back.

{¶ 8} Cunningham and Jackson then fired their weapons at the rest of the group.   Goodloe testified that he saw Coron’s head “snap back” when Cunningham shot Coron in the mouth.   Goodloe also heard Cunningham’s gun fire “numerous times” and saw smoke coming from Cunningham’s gun.   Coron testified that Cunningham pointed his gun at him and fired.   Coron also saw Cunningham shoot Jayla and Tomeaka.   Coron said that both Cunningham and Jackson had fired their weapons, and he saw sparks coming from Cunningham’s gun.   Tomeaka saw Cunningham and Jackson pulling the triggers of their guns and heard more than one gun firing.   James was holding Jayla when Cunningham pointed the gun and shot him in the face.   Once the shooting stopped, the victim heard clicking sounds as Cunningham and Jackson continued pulling the triggers of their guns even after they were out of bullets.

{¶ 9} The deputy coroner determined that Jayla Grant and Leneshia Williams had been killed by gunshot wounds to the head.   Jayla was shot twice in the head;  either wound would have been fatal.   One bullet went through her brain;  the other penetrated her scalp, causing a skull fracture and a brain contusion.   Leneshia suffered a gunshot wound to the back of her head.   The bullet traveled through her brain;  she died within seconds of being shot.   The coroner recovered no bullets or bullet fragments from the victims during the autopsies and was unable to identify the caliber of the bullets that caused the deaths.

{¶ 10} The surviving victims all suffered gunshot injuries as well.   Shane suffered a gunshot wound to his back.   Robinson was shot in the back of the head and was in a coma for 47 days.   James was shot five times and sustained injuries to his head, arm, and hand.   Tomeaka was shot in the head and arm and lost her left eye.   Coron was shot in the mouth, lost teeth, and sustained other injuries to his mouth.   A bullet grazed Goodloe’s side near his rib.

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 {¶ 11} Eight spent shell casings and five spent bullets were found at the scene.   One fragmented lead core from a full-metal-jacketed bullet was also recovered.   One bullet from the shooting was still lodged in Tomeaka’s arm, and Coron testified that he had spit a bullet from his mouth outside the apartment after the shooting stopped.   This bullet was never found.   Police photographed and recovered a bullet from the front porch of the apartment, but this bullet was subsequently misplaced.

{¶ 12} John Heile, a firearms expert for the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, performed testing on the shell casings and bullets recovered from the scene, but no guns were recovered for testing.   Heile was able to identify the spent shell casings and bullets recovered as .380-caliber ammunition.   Heile testified that state’s exhibits 10-17 (shell casings) and exhibits 18, 19, 21, and 23 (spent bullets) were all fired from the same semiautomatic pistol.   Exhibit 20 was the same caliber and possessed the same general characteristics (e.g., lands and grooves) as the other spent bullets, but Heile could not confirm that it came from the same weapon.   In addition, Heile was unable to identify the caliber of exhibit 22 (fragmented lead core) or determine whether it came from the same weapon as the other spent bullets.

{¶ 13} At trial, the defense presented testimony from three witnesses.   William Reiff, a local gun dealer, testified regarding the differences between semiautomatic pistols and revolvers.   Reiff explained that a semiautomatic weapon is loaded by inserting a magazine (i.e., clip) through the butt of the gun handle.   Reiff also testified that a larger weapon, such as a .44-caliber, is “considerably louder” than a .380-caliber weapon and that .44-caliber bullets are much larger than .380-caliber bullets.   On cross-examination, Reiff admitted that he did not know which type of gun was used in the shootings.   He also acknowledged that a .380-caliber bullet has approximately the same diameter as a .38 bullet and that .38 rounds are generally fired from a revolver.

{¶ 14} Joann Davis and her daughter, Mary, lived next door to Shane’s apartment, and both testified that they did not hear any noises at the time of the shootings.   On cross-examination, Joann said that she was taking medication that night for congestive heart failure and a severe back condition.   She also verified that there is a concrete firewall between her apartment and Shane’s.

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{¶ 15} The defense did not dispute that Cunningham brandished a gun both before and during the shootings.   The defense’s theory was that Cunningham’s gun was inoperable and that he had neither planned nor intended to kill anyone.   The defense relied heavily on the physical evidence found at the scene in arguing that only Jackson had fired a weapon.   At trial, witnesses unequivocally recalled a revolver in Cunningham’s hands and a semiautomatic pistol with a clip in Jackson’s hands.   The bullet casings and spent bullets recovered from the scene,  except exhibit 22, were all identified as .380-caliber ammunition that is typically fired from a semiautomatic handgun, not from a revolver.

{¶ 16} Cunningham was indicted on two counts of aggravated murder.   Count One charged Cunningham with purposely causing the death of Jayla Grant during an aggravated robbery.   Count Two charged Cunningham with purposely causing the death of Leneshia Williams during an aggravated robbery.  R.C. 2903.01(B).  Cunningham was charged with aggravated robbery in Count Three and with six counts of attempted murder in Counts Four through Nine. Cunningham was also charged with having a weapon under disability in Count Ten, but this charge was dismissed.

{¶ 17} The aggravated-murder counts each contained two death-penalty specifications.   The first specification charged aggravated murder as part of a course of conduct to kill or attempt to kill two or more persons.  R.C. 2929.04(A)(5).   The second specification charged aggravated murder during an aggravated robbery and that the murder was committed with prior calculation and design.  R.C. 2929.04(A)(7).   Firearm and repeat-violent-offender specifications were attached to all counts except Count Ten.

{¶ 18} The jury convicted Cunningham of all charges, the death-penalty specifications, and the firearm specifications.   After a penalty hearing, the trial court sentenced Cunningham to death on Counts One and Two consistent with the jury’s recommendation.   The trial court imposed consecutive sentences of ten years each for Cunningham’s convictions of aggravated robbery and six counts of attempted murder, plus three-year consecutive sentences for the firearm specifications.   Pursuant to R.C. 2941.149, the trial court determined that Cunningham was a repeat violent offender, sentenced him to nine years on each specification, and ordered those sentences to run concurrently with each other but consecutively to the 13-year sentences for Counts Three through Nine.

https://caselaw.findlaw.com/oh-supreme-court/1361613.html

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