State v. Melchior, No. 77-1125

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Ohio
Writing for the CourtSWEENEY; LEACH
Citation56 Ohio St.2d 15,381 N.E.2d 195,10 O.O.3d 8
Decision Date04 October 1978
Docket NumberNo. 77-1125
Parties, 10 O.O.3d 8 The STATE of Ohio, Appellee, v. MELCHIOR, Appellant.

Page 15

56 Ohio St.2d 15
381 N.E.2d 195, 10 O.O.3d 8
The STATE of Ohio, Appellee,
v.
MELCHIOR, Appellant.
No. 77-1125.
Supreme Court of Ohio.
Oct. 4, 1978.
[381 N.E.2d 196]
Syllabus by the Court

1. The proper standard for determining in a criminal case whether a defendant has successfully raised an affirmative defense under R.C. 2901.05 is to inquire whether the defendant has introduced sufficient evidence, which, if believed, would raise a question in the minds of reasonable men concerning the existence of such issue.

2. Despite the fact that a trial court submits improper jury instructions concerning the degree of proof necessary to successfully raise an affirmative defense under R.C. 2901.05, such error is not reversible where the defendant fails to meet his burden of going forward with evidence of a nature and

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quality sufficient to raise the defense.

[381 N.E.2d 197] On January 23, 1976, Sister Nancy Krista was contacted by Paul Krista's employer over the concern that her brother Paul was not at work. Sister Krista made arrangements to meet Paul's supervisor at Paul's apartment in Kettering, Ohio. When she arrived, she first noticed Paul's car was not there. She then went up to the second floor apartment. After noticing blood on the unlocked door, she opened it, and went in. She found the dead body of her brother in the living room and called the Kettering police.

Paul's body was lying face down on the floor. His

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head was completely beneath a small table. He was clad only in a pair of slacks and was covered with blood.

The living room was in a state of disarray. There were blood splotches on the wall of the living room, on the furniture, in front of the door, and on the door itself. A knife blade covered with blood was lying on the floor between the body and the door. The blade apparently was that of a common kitchen knife and was broken off from the handle. The handle was found beneath the body. Analysis of the blood samples taken from the above objects linked the samples to the blood type of the victim.

A broken vase was lying beside the body, pieces of which were found under the body. A fingerprint expert stated at trial that a partial palm print taken from a broken piece of this vase was identical to that of the appellant's.

Krista's injuries were extensive. There were bruises on his nose, lips, forehead, arms and back. His right elbow and forearm were lacerated. There was a long transverse shallow cut over the deltoid muscle of his left arm. He had a small cut on his right hand between the knuckles. In the lower left and near the midline of his back was a stab wound one inch to the right of the vertebral column and through the right lower lobe of the lung.

The neck had two puncture wounds on the right side. One was a sliding, tearing wound. The other was a deep puncture wound which cut the jugular vein.

However, the coroner testified that it was his opinion that Paul died from asphyxiation caused by manual strangulation after he was stabbed. The Coroner arrived at this conclusion based on the following observations. 1

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The victim had a large hemorrhage on his lower eyelid and small hemorrhage in the same area of the eye (multiple petechiae), indicating death due to smothering or choking. The tip of the victim's right hyoid bone in his neck was fractured and on both sides of his neck were hemorrhage areas. The victim's kidneys were not whitish gray in appearance indicating that the victim did not die from exsanguination as a result of his stab wounds. The coroner noted that it takes from two to four minutes of applied pressure to the neck to cause death by manual strangulation.

A search of the apartment failed to turn up the keys to Paul's car, and, since it was missing, the police broadcasted its description. Stereo equipment was also missing from the apartment. At about 7:30 p. m. that night, Paul's car was found by Dayton police behind Don's Bar in Dayton, which finding eventually led to the apprehension of Robert Melchior, also known as Robert E. Patterson (appellant herein) on January 24, 1976, at 9:15 p. m. Appellant had been residing in an apartment in Dayton, and there the police found the stereo equipment.

Apparently, during the early evening hours of January 22, 1976, appellant was at Don's Bar with Stephen Prouty, a recent companion of his, Sheryl Benjamin, his girlfriend[381 N.E.2d 198] 2 and another woman. They decided to go to the World Lounge up the street, a place frequented by homosexuals. Upon their arrival, appellant began to play several games of pool, and it was during this time that Paul Krista was seen with the appellant. Later that evening witnesses saw Krista and appellant leave the bar together. Prouty testified that before leaving the bar, appellant told him that a man whom he had met at the bar had $200, and was going to take him to his apartment. Prouty heard the appellant say that he planned to "game" the man; that is,

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pretend that he would engage in sexual relations with Krista for the sole purpose of obtaining his money.

Prouty saw appellant the next day at appellant's apartment and noticed that appellant had a cut finger. Prouty testified that appellant at first stated that he had cut his finger while eating, but later explained that he had gone to Krista's apartment; that after they had a couple of beers, appellant told Krista "the trick was up"; that Krista pulled out a knife; that appellant, reaching for Krista's arm, grabbed the blade of the knife and thus cut his finger; that he struck Krista in the leg and the blade broke; and that appellant, although unconscious, was all right.

On January 24, 1976, and again on February 25, 1976, the appellant provided the detectives statements of the events leading up to Krista's death. These statements were recorded on tape and played in the presence of the jury during trial. The appellant's taped versions of what had occurred were similar in many respects to his testimony provided at trial and can be summarized as follows.

According to appellant, Paul Krista approached him while he was playing pool at the World Lounge and began to converse with him. Paul was attracted to him, told him that he had $200, and invited him to go to his apartment where he had some beer and a stereo set. Appellant accompanied Paul to his apartment with the intention of not having any sexual relations with Paul, but of taking the $200 and stereo set. When they arrived at Paul's apartment, Paul at one point took off his shirt, shoes, and socks, put on some music, and served them each a beer. Appellant rebuffed the advances made by Paul, and asked Paul for another beer. Meanwhile, appellant went to the bathroom and returned.

After Paul brought appellant his second beer, appellant told him to give him the money and take him back to the bar. Appellant claims Paul produced a knife, pulling it out from either the right side of his pants or from behind the couch. (In his first taped statement, appellant

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merely stated that Paul pulled out a knife.) Appellant grabbed the blade of the knife while at the same time moving behind Paul to put his arm around Paul's neck. Appellant began punching Paul with his right fist, while applying increased pressure to Paul's neck. He subsequently felt Paul relax, and released him. Paul dropped to the floor. Appellant stated that because Paul was gasping for breath when he left the apartment, he thought Paul was not seriously wounded from the affray.

Appellant was charged with the following counts: (1) aggravated murder (R.C. 2903.01(B)), in that he purposely, and while committing aggravated robbery, caused the death of Paul J. Krista; and (2) aggravated robbery (R.C. 2911.01(A) (2)), in that, in committing a theft offense, he inflicted serious physical harm on Paul J. Krista. Included in count one was the specification that the murder was committed while the appellant was committing aggravated robbery (R.C. 2929.04(A)(7)).

Subsequent to the jury finding of defendant's guilt as to the charges and specification, a mitigation hearing was held on June 22, 1976. The court, finding none of the mitigating factors listed in R.C. 2929.04 to have been established by a preponderance of the evidence, imposed the sentence of [381 N.E.2d 199] death on the defendant with respect to count one of the indictment and from seven to twenty-five years imprisonment on the defendant with respect to count two.

On July 15, 1976, an appeal was taken to the Court of Appeals, which court affirmed the defendant's conviction and sentence.

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576 practice notes
  • State v. McCullum, No. 47766-3
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • January 6, 1983
    ...153 (1976); State v. Millett, 273 A.2d 504, 43 A.L.R.3d 211 (Me.1971); State v. Sunday, Mont., 609 P.2d 1188 (1980); State v. Melchior, 56 Ohio St.2d 15, 381 N.E.2d 195 (1978); State v. Jarvi, 3 Or.App. 391, 474 P.2d 363 (1970); McGhee v. Commonwealth, 219 Va. 560, 248 S.E.2d 808 2 The cour......
  • State v. Dixon, No. 2001-0013.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • April 14, 2004
    ...did not overwhelm his will. See, e.g., State v. Burke (1995), 73 Ohio St.3d 399, 406, 653 N.E.2d 242, citing State v. Melchior (1978), 56 Ohio St.2d 15, 25, 10 O.O.3d 8, 381 N.E.2d {¶29} In addition, Kulakoski's bus analogy is more akin to an admonition to tell the truth than a promise of p......
  • Delawder v. Warden, Case No. 1:13-cv-487
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • August 5, 2014
    ...if believed, would raise a question in the minds of reasonable men concerning the existence of such issue." State v. Melchior (1978), 56 Ohio St.2d 15, 381 N.E.2d 195, at paragraph one of the syllabus. We review this issue de novo. See Goldfuss v. Davidson, 79 Ohio St.3d 116, 124, 1997 Ohio......
  • Reed v. Sheldon, Case No. 5:17cv2672
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • August 29, 2019
    ...that Mr. Harris had no opportunity to react or take any aggressive action toward Reed before Reed hit him. See State v. Melchior, 56 Ohio St.2d 15, 21-22, 381 N.E.2d 195 (1978) (determining that there was insufficient evidence for self-defense instruction where the defendant went to the mur......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
576 cases
  • State v. McCullum, No. 47766-3
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • January 6, 1983
    ...153 (1976); State v. Millett, 273 A.2d 504, 43 A.L.R.3d 211 (Me.1971); State v. Sunday, Mont., 609 P.2d 1188 (1980); State v. Melchior, 56 Ohio St.2d 15, 381 N.E.2d 195 (1978); State v. Jarvi, 3 Or.App. 391, 474 P.2d 363 (1970); McGhee v. Commonwealth, 219 Va. 560, 248 S.E.2d 808 2 The cour......
  • State v. Dixon, No. 2001-0013.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • April 14, 2004
    ...did not overwhelm his will. See, e.g., State v. Burke (1995), 73 Ohio St.3d 399, 406, 653 N.E.2d 242, citing State v. Melchior (1978), 56 Ohio St.2d 15, 25, 10 O.O.3d 8, 381 N.E.2d {¶29} In addition, Kulakoski's bus analogy is more akin to an admonition to tell the truth than a promise of p......
  • Delawder v. Warden, Case No. 1:13-cv-487
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • August 5, 2014
    ...if believed, would raise a question in the minds of reasonable men concerning the existence of such issue." State v. Melchior (1978), 56 Ohio St.2d 15, 381 N.E.2d 195, at paragraph one of the syllabus. We review this issue de novo. See Goldfuss v. Davidson, 79 Ohio St.3d 116, 124, 1997 Ohio......
  • Reed v. Sheldon, Case No. 5:17cv2672
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • August 29, 2019
    ...that Mr. Harris had no opportunity to react or take any aggressive action toward Reed before Reed hit him. See State v. Melchior, 56 Ohio St.2d 15, 21-22, 381 N.E.2d 195 (1978) (determining that there was insufficient evidence for self-defense instruction where the defendant went to the mur......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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