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State v. Foust

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District

February 4, 2005

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
RODNEY L. FOUST Defendant-Appellant.

(Criminal Appeal from Municipal Court) T.C. CASE NO. 04CRB114

Joe Cloud, Prosecutor, Atty. Reg. No. 0040301 Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee

Jeffrey D. Slyman, Atty. Reg. No. 0010098 Attorney for Defendant-Appellant

OPINION

GRADY, J.

{¶ 1} Defendant, Rodney Foust, appeals from his conviction and sentence for assault and unlawful restraint.

{¶ 2} Rosalyn Murphy was the office manager for a mortgage closing business in Vandalia owned by Foust. Murphy and Defendant were also involved in a romantic relationship for several years. Murphy terminated that relationship on or about January 1, 2004. As a result, Defendant and Murphy discussed ending their employment relationship.

{¶ 3} On January 16, 2004, Defendant came in to work and told Murphy that he didn't think she should continue working for him. Murphy agreed. After Murphy gathered her personal belongings and began to leave, Defendant grabbed Murphy's personal cell phone and refused to return it to her. Murphy's efforts to get her cell phone back resulted in a physical altercation with Defendant.

{¶ 4} While trying to retrieve her cell phone, Murphy ripped Defendant's sweater. Defendant began pushing Murphy around, finally pinning her up against a fax machine, bruising her lower back. Defendant also grabbed Murphy by the arms and her clothing and pulled her along the floor to a back office, resulting in "rug burns" to Murphy's leg. In the back office, away from any windows, Defendant slung Murphy to the floor and sat on top of her while he examined the call log on her cell phone to learn what personal calls she had made.

{¶ 5} After Defendant let Murphy up and returned her cell phone, she walked to her car to leave. Defendant followed her to the parking lot and tried to prevent Murphy from leaving. Defendant reached inside the car across Murphy and attempted to take her car keys from the ignition. When Murphy resisted, Defendant bit her on the hand. In return, Murphy bit Defendant on the arm. Defendant was able to take a child support check payable to Murphy from inside her car. Rather than following Defendant back inside the office to get the check, Murphy drove away and later called police. Photographs were taken of the rug burns on Murphy's leg and the bite marks on her hand. When police contacted Defendant by phone, he told them Murphy could not have her check back until she returned office equipment that was in her possession.

{¶ 6} Defendant's version of the events is vastly different from Murphy's. He claims that he fired Murphy because of her poor job performance, and when he did, Murphy became angry and upset and attacked him. According to Defendant, Murphy came at him swinging and scratching, and he merely attempted to defend himself against further attack. Defendant denied pushing, striking, biting, or sitting on Murphy. He also denied dragging her to the back office or taking the child support check from her car. Defendant claims that the only items he removed from Murphy's car were keys to the office and the office appointment book. Defendant claims that he told Murphy she could stop by the office and pick up her personal belongings, which included a child support check, after he returned to the office from property closings.

{¶ 7} Defendant was charged by complaint in Vandalia Municipal Court with one count of assault in violation of section 636.02 of the Vandalia Ordinances and one count of unlawful restraint in violation of section 636.07 of those ordinances. Following a trial to the court, Defendant was found guilty of both offenses. The trial court fined Defendant two hundred fifty dollars plus court costs, but suspended two hundred dollars of the fine. Execution of Defendant's sentence was stayed pending this appeal.

{¶ 8} Defendant has timely appealed to this court from his conviction and sentence.

{¶ 9} FIRST ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

{ΒΆ 10} "THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED PREJUDICIAL ERROR IN UNDULY RESTRICTING APPELLANT'S RIGHT OF CROSS-EXAMINATION OF THE ALLEGED VICTIM AND THEREBY DEPRIVED APPELLANT OF A FAIR TRIAL, AS IS GUARANTEED BY THE SIXTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES ...


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