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State v. Blessing

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District

January 15, 2004

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellant

Criminal Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas, Case No. CR0-02-034

For Plaintiff-Appellant: RICHARD D. WELCH

For Defendant-Appellee: PAUL G. BERTRAM, III

Hon. William B. Hoffman, P. J. Hon. John W. Wise, J. Hon. John F. Boggins, J., JUDGES



{¶1} Appellant State of Ohio appeals the decision of the Morgan County Court of Common Pleas that granted Appellee Maria Holsinger Blessing's motion to dismiss based upon a violation of her right to a speedy trial. The following facts give rise to this appeal.

{¶2} On September 6, 2001, the Morgan County Sheriffs Department arrested appellee and her co-defendant, Michael Ferryman, following an incident wherein they barricaded themselves and discharged firearms and shouted threats in the direction of law enforcement officials. On September 19, 2001, the Morgan County Grand Jury indicted appellee on four counts of felonious assault. Each count also contained a firearm specification.

{¶3} Based upon information the state received during its investigation, the state believed appellee was mentally ill and therefore, may not be competent to stand trial or enter plea negotiations. Pursuant to this belief, the state filed a suggestion of appellee's incompetence with a request for a competency determination and request for continuance of the trial. Following a hearing on the state's request, the trial court granted the state's motion and ordered appellee to undergo a competency evaluation. On November 20, 2001, the trial court tolled the statutory speedy trial provisions.

{¶4} On January 15, 2002, the trial court conducted a status conference after receiving appellee's competency evaluation. The trial court reviewed the report, which indicated appellee suffered from a mental illness, however, was never incompetent to stand trial. The trial court scheduled a final competency hearing for January 24, 2002. The trial court also scheduled appellee's trial for February 5, 2002.

{¶5} Following appellee's status conference, on January 22, 2002, the trial court conducted a competency hearing for appellee's co-defendant, Michael Ferryman. The report indicated Ferryman was mentally ill and not competent to stand trial. Appellee's attorney was present at Ferryman's hearing and informed the trial court that appellee wished to subpoena Ferryman as a witness but was uncertain whether Ferryman could be a witness if he was not competent to stand trial. Accordingly, appellee's attorney requested a second evaluation of Ferryman. Pursuant to this request, appellee executed a speedy trial waiver which stated:

{¶6} "The Defendant herein knowingly and voluntarily waives any and all rights to trial being had within the time limitation under the constitution (sic) of the United States, the Constitution of Ohio, the Ohio Revised Code and the Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure, so long as the issue of the competency of co-defendant Michael Ferryman is pending before this Court." The waiver is dated January 22, 2002, and signed by appellee and her attorney. The waiver was filed on this same date. On January 28, 2002, the trial court filed a judgment entry specifically granting appellee's request for a second competency evaluation of Ferryman.

{¶7} The trial court conducted a second competency hearing concerning Ferryman on February 26, 2002. This evaluation also found Ferryman to be mentally ill and incompetent to stand trial. However, the report found Ferryman to be restorable to competency within one year. Pursuant to this report, the trial court found Ferryman incompetent to stand trial, but restorable within one year. The trial court ordered Ferryman transported to a mental health facility, in Columbus, to undergo competency restoration.

{¶8} On April 8, 2002, appellee filed a motion to dismiss the indictment on the basis that each count of the indictment fails to describe the alleged victims. On April 10, 2002, appellee's counsel filed a motion to withdraw as counsel and to appoint new counsel. The trial court granted counsel's motion to withdraw and continued the trial date until June 25, 2002. The trial court also expressly tolled the speedy trial provisions based upon appellee's motion and the agreement of counsel.

{¶9} On April 16, 2002, the state filed a new indictment against appellee. The new indictment amended the first indictment and reduced the number of counts of felonious assault from four to two. Each count contained a firearm specification. Thereafter, the state filed a nolle prosequi on May 3, 2002, as to the first indictment. The trial court arraigned appellee on the new indictment on April 17, 2002. On June 18, 2002, appellee filed a motion to continue the trial date of June 25, 2002, a ...

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