State v. Jones, No. 2018-0444

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Ohio
Writing for the CourtO'Connor, C.J.
Citation163 Ohio St.3d 242,169 N.E.3d 649
Decision Date18 December 2020
Docket NumberNo. 2018-0444
Parties The STATE of Ohio, Appellant, v. JONES et al., Appellees.

163 Ohio St.3d 242
169 N.E.3d 649

The STATE of Ohio, Appellant,
v.
JONES et al., Appellees.

No. 2018-0444

Supreme Court of Ohio.

Submitted August 4, 2020
Decided December 18, 2020.


Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Anthony T. Miranda and Kevin Filiatraut, Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys, for appellant.

James J. Hofelich, Cleveland, for appellee Randy Jones.

Mark A. Stanton, Cuyahoga County Public Defender, and John T. Martin, Assistant Public Defender, for appellee Carissa Jones.

Dave Yost, Attorney General, Benjamin M. Flowers, Solicitor General, Michael J. Hendershot, Chief Deputy Solicitor General, and Zachery P. Keller, Deputy Solicitor General, urging reversal for amicus curiae, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

O'Connor, C.J.

169 N.E.3d 651
163 Ohio St.3d 242

{¶ 1} Appellees, Randy and Carissa Jones, were convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the tragic death of their adopted daughter, T.J., and they each were sentenced to ten years in prison. This appeal concerns whether the Eighth District Court of Appeals properly vacated their sentences. We hold that it did not. We therefore reverse the judgments of the court of appeals and reinstate the sentences imposed by the trial court.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

A. Convictions

{¶ 2} Randy and Carissa Jones adopted T.J. in 2002, when she was nine months old. In 2006, they had T.J. evaluated by a psychologist and a psychiatrist, who diagnosed her with autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and an intellectual disability. The psychologist also told the Joneses that T.J. would likely not progress beyond the sixth-grade level in school. The Joneses found that T.J. had difficulty communicating; she had a limited ability to understand what was said to her and an even more limited ability to verbalize a response. They began homeschooling T.J. when she was in the second grade.

{¶ 3} On February 18, 2013, Carissa found that T.J. was not breathing and called 9-1-1. First responders attempted to resuscitate T.J. while taking her to the hospital.

{¶ 4} At the hospital, Dr. Jamil Alarafi immediately noticed that T.J. smelled like "necrotic and decaying flesh, * * * like gangrene." She also had wounds on her chest and neck, and she was visibly malnourished, with a "distended" belly.

163 Ohio St.3d 243

Dr. Alarafi also observed severe wounds on T.J.'s lower extremities, including dying tissue on her feet and abscesses on her ankle and legs. Ultimately, all efforts to save T.J.'s life were unsuccessful, and she was pronounced dead at the hospital. She was 12 years old.

{¶ 5} Dr. Andrea McCollum of the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office conducted an autopsy. She concluded that T.J. died from sepsis and pneumonia caused by bacteria in the abscess on T.J.'s ankle entering T.J.'s bloodstream and traveling to her lungs. Dr. McCollum also determined that the manner of death was homicide due to the Joneses' lack of care for T.J.

{¶ 6} The Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services then conducted an investigation into T.J.'s death. The Joneses told an investigator that T.J. had been sick for a little over a week, but they said they had often been forced to guess what was wrong with her when she was sick because she never complained about anything and she seemed to have a very high tolerance for pain. When the investigator questioned the Joneses about the injuries to T.J.'s body, they stated that the injuries had been caused by her own self-injurious behavior and that although they had made efforts to stop

169 N.E.3d 652

that behavior, such injuries were not unusual.

{¶ 7} After the investigation, Randy and Carissa Jones were each charged with involuntary manslaughter under R.C. 2903.04(A), three counts of endangering children under R.C. 2919.22, and permitting child abuse under R.C. 2903.15(A). At the conclusion of a joint jury trial, they were each found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of endangering children, and permitting child abuse. They were each acquitted of one count of endangering children.

B. Sentencing

{¶ 8} The trial court merged all counts and the state elected to proceed to sentencing on the involuntary-manslaughter count for both defendants under former R.C. 2929.14(A)(1), 2012 Am.Sub.S.B. No. 337, which required the trial court to impose definite sentences between 3 and 11 years in prison.

{¶ 9} The court sentenced both Randy and Carissa Jones to ten years in prison, followed by five years of postrelease control. In doing so, the trial judge stated that she had taken "copious notes" during the long trial and that she had reviewed those notes in preparation for the sentencing. She also said, "I've perhaps given this case more thought than just about any case that I've ever had in my career." Finally, the trial judge specifically stated that she had considered all the required factors under R.C. 2929.11, 2929.12, and 2929.13, and the sentencing entry indicates the same.

{¶ 10} The trial judge also made statements concerning the evidence introduced at trial and her view of the Joneses' conduct. She stated that the

163 Ohio St.3d 244

photographs of T.J.'s injuries were among the worst photographs of a child's injuries she had ever seen. She also stated that she doubted that the injuries on T.J.'s body were self-inflicted and that she did not believe Randy Jones's claim that he had not been aware of how severe those injuries were. A large number of people sought to support the Joneses at the sentencing hearing, but the trial judge noted that they had not seen the evidence presented at trial, including the photographs of T.J.'s injuries, and that their support could not undo the Joneses' failure to provide care for T.J. The trial judge also noted that she had not observed the Joneses shed a single tear.

C. The Joneses' Appeals

{¶ 11} The Joneses separately appealed, but their appeals were consolidated. The Eighth District Court of Appeals issued three separate decisions in their cases. The first two are not relevant to this appeal. In State v. Jones , 2016-Ohio-5923, 76 N.E.3d 417 (" Jones I "), the court affirmed the Joneses' convictions but vacated their sentences and remanded for resentencing, see id. at ¶ 113-114. In State v. Jones , 2016-Ohio-7702, 76 N.E.3d 596 (" Jones II "), the court upon reconsideration vacated the decision in Jones I and again affirmed the convictions and—after applying a different analysis regarding the propriety of their sentences—again vacated their sentences and remanded for resentencing, see id. at ¶ 117-118. The Eighth District then granted the state's motion for en banc consideration and heard the Joneses' appeals en banc due to a conflict between its decision in Jones II and one of its prior decisions that also involved the standards for appellate review of felony sentences. State v. Jones , 2018-Ohio-498, 105 N.E.3d 702, ¶ 1 (" Jones III "). Ultimately, in the decision now on appeal to this court, it vacated the Joneses' sentences a third time and remanded for resentencing, in the process vacating the decision in Jones II and again affirming the convictions, see Jones III at ¶ 3, 150, 153.

169 N.E.3d 653

{¶ 12} The Eighth District's en banc decision in Jones III focused on R.C. 2953.08. In relevant part, R.C. 2953.08(A)(4) permits a criminal defendant to appeal his or her sentence on the ground that it is "contrary to law." R.C. 2953.08(G)(2) then provides:

The court hearing an appeal under division (A), (B), or (C) of this section shall review the record, including the findings underlying the sentence or modification given by the sentencing court.

The appellate court may increase, reduce, or otherwise modify a sentence that is appealed under this section or may vacate the sentence and remand the matter to the sentencing court for resentencing. The appellate court's standard for review is not whether the sentencing court abused its
163 Ohio St.3d 245
discretion. The appellate court may take any action authorized by this division if it clearly and convincingly finds either of the following:

(a) That the record does not support the sentencing court's findings under division (B) or (D) of section 2929.13, division (B)(2)(e) or (C)(4) of section 2929.14, or division (I) of section 2929.20 of the Revised Code, whichever, if any, is relevant;

(b) That the sentence is otherwise contrary to law.

{¶ 13} In Jones III , a majority of the judges of the Eighth District joined the holding stated in the lead opinion that our decision in State v. Marcum , 146 Ohio St.3d 516, 2016-Ohio-1002, 59 N.E.3d 1231, interpreted R.C. 2953.08(G)(2)(a) to permit an appellate court to modify or vacate a sentence if it finds that the record does not support the sentencing court's findings under R.C. 2929.11 and 2929.12. Jones III , 2018-Ohio-498, 105...

To continue reading

Request your trial
170 practice notes
  • State v. Smith, 20CA3934
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • February 2, 2022
    ...for that of the trial court concerning the sentence that best reflects compliance with R.C. 2929.11 and 2929.12." State v. Jones, 163 Ohio St.3d 242, 2020-Ohio-6729, 169 N.E.3d 649, ¶ 42. Furthermore, "an appellate court's determination that the record does not support a sentence does not e......
  • State v. Whitehead, 20CA3931
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • February 18, 2022
    ...for that of the trial court concerning the sentence that best reflects compliance with R.C. 2929.11 and 2929.12." State v. Jones, 163 Ohio St.3d 242, 2020-Ohio-6729, 169 N.E.3d 649, ¶ 42. Furthermore, "an appellate court's determination that the record does not support a sentence does not e......
  • State v. Washington, 2020 CA 0066
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • March 3, 2022
    ...review of findings and other issues within its scope). We therefore conclude that the merits panel's ultimate judgments were erroneous. 163 Ohio St.3d 242, 2020-Ohio-6729, 169 N.E.3d 649, ¶42. {¶127} Upon review, we find that the trial court's sentencing on the charges complies with applica......
  • State v. Patrick, 2019-0655
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • December 22, 2020
    ...can be appealed for being "contrary to law" under R.C. 2953.08(A)(4) is inconsistent with this court's decision in State v. Jones , 163 Ohio St.3d 242, 2020-Ohio-6729, 169 N.E.3d 649, in which the court concluded that although R.C. 2929.11 and 2929.12 are statutory sentencing requirements r......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
188 cases
  • State v. Smith, 20CA3934
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • February 2, 2022
    ...for that of the trial court concerning the sentence that best reflects compliance with R.C. 2929.11 and 2929.12." State v. Jones, 163 Ohio St.3d 242, 2020-Ohio-6729, 169 N.E.3d 649, ¶ 42. Furthermore, "an appellate court's determination that the record does not support a sentence does not e......
  • State v. Whitehead, 20CA3931
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • February 18, 2022
    ...for that of the trial court concerning the sentence that best reflects compliance with R.C. 2929.11 and 2929.12." State v. Jones, 163 Ohio St.3d 242, 2020-Ohio-6729, 169 N.E.3d 649, ¶ 42. Furthermore, "an appellate court's determination that the record does not support a sentence does not e......
  • State v. Washington, 2020 CA 0066
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • March 3, 2022
    ...review of findings and other issues within its scope). We therefore conclude that the merits panel's ultimate judgments were erroneous. 163 Ohio St.3d 242, 2020-Ohio-6729, 169 N.E.3d 649, ¶42. {¶127} Upon review, we find that the trial court's sentencing on the charges complies with applica......
  • State v. Patrick, 2019-0655
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • December 22, 2020
    ...can be appealed for being "contrary to law" under R.C. 2953.08(A)(4) is inconsistent with this court's decision in State v. Jones , 163 Ohio St.3d 242, 2020-Ohio-6729, 169 N.E.3d 649, in which the court concluded that although R.C. 2929.11 and 2929.12 are statutory sentencing requirements r......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 firm's commentaries

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT