YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Attorneys for a man who received triple the recommended sentence for shooting at a pair of state troopers after he missed his first sentencing hearing say the sentence is excessive.
In a brief filed before the 7th District Court of Appeals, John McNally IV, attorney for Marquise Hornbuckle, 25, said his sentence was “vindictive” and should be vacated and sent back to a trial court for resentencing.
Hornbuckle was sentenced Dec. 16 to 29 and 34 and a half years in prison in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, far more than an 11-year sentence the attorneys in the case agreed on when he pleaded guilty to two counts of felonious assault.
Judge R. Scott Krichbaum said at the time that the reason he did not abide by the plea agreement was that Hornbuckle, who was free on bond, did not show up for his sentencing a week earlier.
Judge Krichbaum said at the time a strong sentence was necessary to deter people from skipping court appearances in the future.
Hornbuckle pleaded guilty in October 2020 to two counts of felonious assault with a firearm specification after he was indicted in June 2020 for shooting at two undercover state troopers near Summer Street and W. Warren Avenue on November 8, 2019.
The troopers were not hurt. They were in court Wednesday but did not say anything. Prosecutors said the two troopers agreed with the recommended sentencing.
A representative from Ace Bonding Co., which had to pay $21,000 to catch Hornbuckle, was also at the sentencing. Included in the expenses was a fee for two bail agents to search for Hornbuckle.
Although it is common in plea agreements for attorneys on both sides to recommend a sentence, a judge is not bound to accept their recommendation. That provision is included in both a written plea agreement defense attorneys go over with their clients before they plead guilty and when a judge quizzes them on the plea agreement before they actually enter their plea.
Hornbuckle’s attorney had claimed at his sentencing that he skipped his initial sentencing because he was in Pennsylvania clearing up another legal matter, but he did not ask for permission to travel to Pennsylvania, which he would have to do as part of his bond.
McNally said Judge Krichbaum erred when imposing consecutive sentences on the felonious assault charges because the trial court did not show that the public needed to be protected from future criminal offenses; that sentencing him excessively above the recommended sentence was contrary to law, especially when prosecutors did not ask for a substantial increase; and that the sentence was “an abuse of discretion because the trial court imposed a vindictive prison term of consecutive sentences.”
Even though Hornbuckle had missed his previous sentencing date and violated bond, McNally wrote, that did not allow for such an excessive sentence. That, McNally wrote, was an abuse of discretion.