State v. Taylor

Decision Date11 October 2022
Docket Number2021-P-0052
Citation198 N.E.3d 956
Parties STATE of Ohio, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Henry TAYLOR, Jr., Defendant-Appellant.
CourtOhio Court of Appeals

Victor V. Vigluicci, Portage County Prosecutor, and Pamela J. Holder, Assistant Prosecutor, 241 South Chestnut Street, Ravenna, OH 44266 (For Plaintiff-Appellee).

Thomas Rein, 820 Superior Avenue, Suite 800, Cleveland, OH 44113 (For Defendant-Appellant).



{¶1} Appellant, Henry Taylor, Jr., appeals his convictions of felonious assault and domestic violence following a jury trial. We affirm.

I. Introduction

{¶2} In December 2020, the Portage County Grand Jury returned an indictment charging appellant with one count each of aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony, in violation of R.C. 2911.01 ; kidnapping, a first-degree felony, in violation of R.C. 2905.01 ; felonious assault, a second-degree felony, in violation of R.C. 2903.11 ; and domestic violence, a first-degree misdemeanor, in violation of R.C. 2919.25. The indictment alleged that appellant committed the offenses against a single victim on or about December 21, 2020.

{¶3} A three-day jury trial was held in March 2021. The prosecution called several witnesses: a 9-1-1 caller, a 9-1-1 supervisor, two road officers, a detective, an emergency room physician, a custodian of medical records, and the victim, albeit on cross-examination. At the close of the state's case, the defense moved for a Crim.R. 29 judgment of acquittal. The trial court granted the motion as to the charge of kidnapping. The defense rested without presenting any witnesses. The jury returned guilty verdicts on the charges of felonious assault and domestic violence; it could not reach a decision as to the charge of aggravated robbery. The trial court imposed a minimum prison term of six years to a maximum term of nine years for the offense of felonious assault and six months for the offense of domestic violence, to run concurrently. The sentencing entry was journalized on April 29, 2021.

{¶4} From the final judgment of conviction, appellant advances five assignments of error.

II. Sufficiency and Manifest Weight

{¶5} Appellant's first two assigned errors challenge the legal sufficiency and weight of the evidence:

[1.] The State failed to present sufficient evidence to sustain a conviction against Appellant.
[2.] Appellant's convictions are against the manifest weight of the evidence.

{¶6} "Whether the evidence is legally sufficient to sustain a verdict is a question of law." (Citation omitted.) State v. Thompkins , 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 386, 678 N.E.2d 541 (1997) ; State v. Davis , 11th Dist. Lake No. 2019-L-170, 2021-Ohio-237, 2021 WL 308513, ¶ 187. "In a sufficiency-of-the-evidence inquiry, the question is whether the evidence presented, when viewed in a light most favorable to the prosecution, would allow any rational trier of fact to find the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Dent , 163 Ohio St.3d 390, 2020-Ohio-6670, 170 N.E.3d 816, ¶ 15, citing State v. Jenks , 61 Ohio St.3d 259, 574 N.E.2d 492 (1991), paragraph two of the syllabus. "In essence, sufficiency is a test of adequacy." Thompkins at 386, 678 N.E.2d 541.

{¶7} In contrast, a challenge to the manifest weight of the evidence "concerns ‘the inclination of the greater amount of credible evidence * * * to support one side of the issue rather than the other.’ " (Emphasis sic.) Id. at 387, 678 N.E.2d 541, quoting Black's Law Dictionary 1594 (6th Ed.1990). In reviewing the manifest weight of the evidence, we must "consider the entire record, including the credibility of the witnesses, the weight of the evidence, and any reasonable inferences, and determine whether " ‘the [jury] clearly lost its way and created such a manifest miscarriage of justice that the conviction must be reversed and a new trial ordered.’ " " State v. Montgomery , 148 Ohio St.3d 347, 2016-Ohio-5487, 71 N.E.3d 180, ¶ 75, quoting Thompkins at 387, 678 N.E.2d 541, quoting State v. Martin , 20 Ohio App.3d 172, 175, 485 N.E.2d 717 (1st Dist.1983) ; State v. Settle , 2017-Ohio-703, 86 N.E.3d 35, ¶ 51 (11th Dist.)

{¶8} A conclusion that the jury verdict is not against the manifest weight of the evidence necessarily means it was supported by sufficient evidence. State v. Masters , 11th Dist. Lake No. 2019-L-037, 2020-Ohio-864, 2020 WL 1139017, ¶ 17. Thus, the appellate court need not engage in a separate analysis of sufficiency if it determines the verdict is not against the manifest weight. Id.

{¶9} To convict appellant, the state was required to prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt: Domestic violence: "No person shall knowingly cause or attempt to cause physical harm to a family or household member." R.C. 2919.25(A). Felonious assault: "No person shall knowingly * * * [c]ause serious physical harm to another * * *." R.C. 2903.11(A)(1). "A person acts knowingly, regardless of purpose, when the person is aware that the person's conduct will probably cause a certain result or will probably be of a certain nature." R.C. 2901.22(B).

{¶10} "Family or household member" includes a "person living as a spouse," which means "a person who is living or has lived with the offender in a common law marital relationship, who otherwise is cohabiting with the offender, or who otherwise has cohabited with the offender within five years prior to the date of the alleged commission of the act in question." R.C. 2919.25(F)(1)(a)(i) and (2).

{¶11} " ‘Physical harm to persons’ means any injury, illness, or other physiological impairment, regardless of its gravity or duration." R.C. 2901.01(A)(3). " ‘Serious physical harm to persons’ means any of the following:

(a) Any mental illness or condition of such gravity as would normally require hospitalization or prolonged psychiatric treatment;
(b) Any physical harm that carries a substantial risk of death;
(c) Any physical harm that involves some permanent incapacity, whether partial or total, or that involves some temporary, substantial incapacity;
(d) Any physical harm that involves some permanent disfigurement or that involves some temporary, serious disfigurement;
(e) Any physical harm that involves acute pain of such duration as to result in substantial suffering or that involves any degree of prolonged or intractable pain.

R.C. 2901.01(A)(5).

{¶12} Testimony from trial witnesses revealed the following:

{¶13} On December 21, 2020, at 5:00 a.m., Kathryn Scott was driving to work on State Route 5. It was a very cold morning. Ms. Scott observed what she initially thought was a coyote on the opposite side of the road. As she got closer, she realized the figure was a person, who was on their hands and knees in the middle of the road. Ms. Scott, who was traveling alone, called 9-1-1 but did not remain on scene. The 9-1-1 recording was played for the jury.

{¶14} Deputy Dustin Henry Diemert was dispatched to State Route 5 in response to several callers reporting a female subject crawling on the roadway without shoes in the 20- to 30-degree weather. This area of State Route 5 is a two-lane roadway with a speed limit of 55 miles per hour; it is a rural area, dark with no streetlights, and few houses located far off the roadway. Deputy Diemert observed two bystanders and a female on the ground. He testified that "she has no shoes on, her hair is all over the place, her clothing had black marks, almost like she was dragged from the asphalt of the concrete, clothes were ripped. * * * She was crying, on the ground shivering, shaking and just very disoriented." Deputy Diemert placed the female into his warm vehicle and called for an ambulance.

{¶15} The female (hereinafter "the Victim") identified herself to Deputy Diemert and repeatedly stated that her feet hurt and that her head was heavy. She appeared to be in shock, suffering from pain in her feet, head, and had visible swelling to her jaw. She also smelled strongly of alcohol. The Victim eventually disclosed to the deputy that her boyfriend, appellant, assaulted her and stole her car, in which were her purse, wallet, and shoes. She identified the make and model of her vehicle and a BMV image of appellant.

{¶16} The Victim told Deputy Diemert that she and appellant were driving when they got into a verbal altercation. Appellant hit her in the face and head with closed fists. At a gas station, the Victim lied about having to use the restroom and instead called her father. Appellant decided to return home and, while driving, again struck the Victim in the head and face with a closed fist. The Victim grabbed the steering wheel to pull the car over or crash the car in order to stop the beating. Appellant stopped the car, and the Victim jumped out. Appellant chased her down, tackled her to the ground, and continued beating her head and face with a closed fist. The Victim refused to stand up, and appellant dragged her back to the car as she was screaming and crying. The Victim said that appellant kicked her in the ribs, left her on the ground, and took her vehicle.

{¶17} Trooper Tyler Totani also responded to the scene. He testified that it was cold, and the Victim was not dressed for the weather. She was hysterical, had no shoes on, and complained about pain to her face. Trooper Totani testified that the Victim had to be physically picked up and placed into the vehicle because she was not able to get there on her own.

{¶18} The Victim was transported to the hospital by ambulance. Dr. Gwendlyn Fletcher, an emergency medicine physician, treated the Victim the morning of December 21, 2020. Dr. Fletcher testified that the Victim presented with sizable abrasions on her chest and back from direct contact with the ground and a large hematoma

on the right side of her forehead. Dr. Fletcher ordered multiple CT scans, which showed fractures of the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth ribs on her left side and a fracture of the second rib on her right side.

{¶19} Dr. Fletcher...

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