Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Court Hears Claim That Finding of Passion or Rage in First Murder Trial Must Apply to Retrial

Image of a pair of handcuffs lying next to a wooden gavel.

Court will consider if a jury ruling in a man’s first murder trial must be adopted when the case is retried.

Image of a pair of handcuffs lying next to a wooden gavel.

Court will consider if a jury ruling in a man’s first murder trial must be adopted when the case is retried.

Dujuan Wiley was an admitted drug dealer when he was attacked in his bedroom by three men, including one of his regular customers. Wiley said he feared for his life when the men burst into his room, but when he wrestled a gun away from one of the attackers, “he wanted blood.”

Wiley told a Cleveland police detective he “was like the Terminator that night” in September 2018 when he killed Antoine Reese. Wiley shot Reese in the back as Reese and the two other men tried to flee the house after realizing Wiley had grabbed the gun.

Wiley was eventually caught, and a jury convicted him of felony murder, which occurs when the accused murders a person while committing or attempting to commit another felony. The felony Wiley committed was felonious assault for shooting Reese in the back. Wiley was also convicted of voluntary manslaughter after the jury found he shot Reese “while under the influence of sudden passion or in a sudden fit of rage, either of which is brought on by serious provocation by the victim that is sufficient to incite the person using deadly force.”

Wiley appealed his conviction, arguing it isn’t legally possible to be found guilty of a felony level of assault if a jury found he acted with sudden passion or rage, so he can’t be guilty of felony murder. The Eighth District Court of Appeals ordered a new trial to consider the felonious assault, felony murder, and voluntary manslaughter charges. Wiley has asked the Supreme Court of Ohio to toss out the felonious assault and felony murder charges.

At a special off-site court session at Jackson Middle School in Jackson County, the Supreme Court will consider Wiley’s claim that the first trial’s finding that he acted with sudden passion or rage must carry over to his second trial,  barring him from facing the more serious felony murder charge. The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office counters that the second jury isn’t bound by the first jury’s decision, and even if it were, Wiley can still face all three charges.

Confusion, Concerns Over Jury Instructions
After shooting Reese, Wiley jumped out of a second-floor window and went into hiding. About 15 months later, Cleveland police discovered Wiley and his girlfriend and located illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia, and the handgun used to kill Reese.

A Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted Wiley in two separate cases, one regarding the crimes that occurred in September 2018, including killing Reese, and the other alleging the drug-related crimes in February 2020.

After Wiley was indicted for felonious assault, felony murder, voluntary manslaughter, and drug-related offenses, the prosecutor’s office hoped to resolve the case by Wiley pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter. Wiley refused, claiming he wasn’t guilty because he acted in self-defense.

At his trial, the prosecutor had two theories. First, that Wiley committed felony murder based on the crime of felonious assault for purposely shooting Reese. Second, Wiley committed voluntary manslaughter for knowingly killing Reese while under the influence of sudden passion or rage, brought on by serious provocation by Reese.

The jury was told that to convict Wiley of voluntary manslaughter, it must find he acted under the influence of sudden passion or in a sudden fit of rage brought on by the serious provocation by Reese. But when explaining the felonious assault and felony murder charges, the judge didn’t instruct the jury to consider whether Reese seriously provoked Wiley.

The jury convicted Wiley on all counts. Before sentencing, the prosecutor’s office and Wiley’s attorneys discussed the issue of whether Wiley could have been found guilty of felonious assault if the jury found he acted with passion or rage. If he acted with passion or rage, he would be guilty of the lesser offense of aggravated assault, and that charge couldn’t be used to justify a felony murder conviction.

The prosecutor’s office asked the trial court to not sentence Wiley for felony murder. The trial court imposed a 14-year prison sentence for voluntary manslaughter while using a gun. Wiley also received a 7.5-year sentence for drug-related offenses for a total of 21.5 years in prison.

Second Trial Ordered
On appeal, the Eighth District found the trial court made a mistake by instructing the jury to consider sudden passion or rage for only the voluntary manslaughter charge. The trial judge should have told the jury that if it found Wiley acted with sudden passion or rage, it should have considered those factors when debating the felonious assault and felony murder charge, the Eighth District said. A new trial was ordered.

Wiley notes that the U.S. and Ohio constitutions have double jeopardy clauses prohibiting a person acquitted of a crime from being tried again for the same crime. He claims that the double jeopardy protection encompasses a principle known as “collateral estoppel,” which means that once a factual issue is decided in a court’s final judgment, then the issue can’t be contested again by the same parties in any future lawsuit. Under that theory, the sudden passion or rage finding from the first jury must be binding on the second jury. If Wiley is retried, the most serious crime he could face is voluntary manslaughter, he argues.

The prosecutor’s office maintains that Wiley is trying to stretch the collateral estoppel rule to apply to his case without legal precedent to back it up. The rule applies when someone is acquitted of charges, but Wiley was found guilty on all counts, the prosecutor notes. Even so, the prosecutor argues that the office is still free to argue separate theories of felony murder and voluntary manslaughter, and it is possible a jury can conclude Wiley committed all the charged crimes. The prosecutor argues that Wiley doesn’t deserve a new trial, but if he does receive a new trial, he has risked the chance of being found guilty of the more serious offense of felony murder.

Watch Oral Arguments Online
The Supreme Court will hear State v. Wiley and two other cases, described below, during oral arguments at Jackson Middle School on April 24. Before traveling to Jackson County, the Court will hear one case on April 23 in Columbus. Oral arguments begin at 9 a.m. The arguments will be streamed live online at and on the Ohio Channel, where they are archived.

Detailed case previews from the Office of Public Information are available by clicking on the name of each case.

Tuesday, April 23
Constitutionality of State Law
A 10-year-old girl was abducted in 1991 from her Harrison, Ohio, home and murdered. Her body was found on the Indiana side of the Ohio-Indiana border. The man who was charged for the murder was convicted and sentenced to death. In 2017, the Supreme Court of Ohio reopened the man’s direct appeal of his death sentence. The man asked if the Ohio trial court had jurisdiction to hear the case if the prosecutor didn’t prove the murder happened in this state. The Supreme Court ruled that a state law in effect at the time gave the Ohio court the authority to handle the case. The man has requested that the Court again reopen his appeal to review the statute. In State v. Wogenstahl, the Court will evaluate the constitutionality of the law.

Wednesday, April 24
Mental Health Restrictions
In 1980, a 17-year-old was accused of murdering his parents at the family’s Ashtabula County home. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He has been hospitalized since then and has spent almost four decades at a Massillon treatment facility. Since 2004, he has been allowed to go unsupervised into the community for set amounts of time, returning to the facility each day. In 2022, the facility recommended that the man be placed on “conditional release,” a mental health commitment defined in state law. He would move to a group home where he must continue receiving counseling and taking medication. The trial court rejected the request, concluding he was a potential threat to public safety. In State v. Hickman, the man argues the prosecutor failed to prove there was a public safety threat. The prosecutor counters that public safety is at risk because the man’s mental health hasn’t improved.

Open Meetings
After the 2020 presidential election, a controversy brewed nationally over the Dominion Voting Systems election equipment. At a December 2020 meeting, the Stark County Board of Elections went into closed-door executive session to discuss the purchase of property for public purposes. The board reconvened in a public session and publicly voted to acquire Dominion voting equipment. It sent its recommendation to the Stark County Board of Commissioners, which refused to act on the request. For several months, the board of elections continued to meet and discuss the Dominion equipment purchase in executive sessions. By court order, the commissioners eventually purchased the equipment. However, opponents of the purchase filed a lawsuit claiming the board violated the Ohio Open Meetings Act and that its recommendation to the commissioners was invalid. In Look Ahead America v. Stark County Board of Elections, the Court will consider whether the board violated the law by discussing the voting machine purchases in private.