State v. Thomas

Decision Date19 May 1982
Docket NumberNo. 81-1041,81-1041
Citation70 Ohio St.2d 79,434 N.E.2d 1356,24 O.O.3d 150
Parties, 24 O.O.3d 150 The STATE of Ohio, Appellant, v. THOMAS, Appellee.
CourtOhio Supreme Court

Syllabus by the Court

Stephen R. Shaw, Ada, for appellant.

Gregory M. Novak, Limo, for appellee.

REILLY, Justice.

Appellant advances the following proposition of law:

"Where there is ample evidence in the record from which a jury can weigh and evaluate the testimony of defense witnesses as to the issue of insanity it is exclusively within the province of the jury to make that evaluation and it is an abuse of judicial discretion and an abuse of the jury process for a reviewing court to substitute its own evaluation of those witnesses and thereby overturn the jury's conclusions as to the defendant's guilt."

It is emphasized that an appellant court may not reverse the judgment of conviction unless reasonable minds could not fail to find reasonable doubt of the defendant's guilt. It is fundamental that the weight to be given the evidence and credibility of the witnesses are primarily for the trier of the facts. Thus, in reviewing the legal sufficiency of evidence to support a jury verdict, it is the minds of the jurors rather than a reviewing court which must be convinced. State v. Petro (1947), 148 Ohio St. 473, 501-502, 76 N.E.2d 355; State v. DeHass (1967), 10 Ohio St.2d 230, 227 N.E.2d 212. The test for the sufficiency of the evidence in a criminal appeal is whether reasonable minds can reach different conclusions on the issue of whether defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Black (1978), 54 Ohio St.2d 304, 376 N.E.2d 948.

The jury was specifically instructed that it could believe or disbelieve all or any part of the testimony of any witness. The charge included an instruction concerning expert witnesses, but specified that upon the jury alone rests the duty of deciding what weight should be given to the testimony of any expert.

Moreover, this court in State v. Jackson (1972), 32 Ohio St.2d 203, 291 N.E.2d 432, held:

"In order to establish the defense of insanity where raised by pleas in a criminal proceeding, the accused must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that disease or other defect of his mind had so impaired his reason that, at the time of the criminal act with which he is charged, either he did not know that such act was wrong or he did not have the ability to refrain from doing that act. (State v. Staten, 18 Ohio St.2d 13, 214 N.E.2d 293, approved and followed.)"

Therefore, insanity is an issue for the jury to decide. Consequently, the jury may give more weight to lay witnesses than to experts if it so chooses. If there is sufficient evidence to support the jury's findings, it is not the reviewing court's place to interfere. The weight to be given the evidence and the credibility of the witnesses concerning the establishment of the defense of insanity in a criminal proceeding are primarily for the trier of the facts.

The defense presented the expert testimony of Dr. Lewis A. Lindner, M. D., and Joseph S. Ryan, a psychologist. The jury could decide what weight should be given to their testimony. As to Dr. Lindner, there was evidence of a report in his files in which it was recorded that upon interviewing defendant "no signs of psychosis were noted," and the most significant diagnosis of defendant was that he was mildly mentally retarded. Moreover, Dr. Lindner testified that defendant's touch with "reality varied from time to time," and that a schizophrenic could distinguish right...

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