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State of Ohio v. Richard A. Evans

October 21, 2011

STATE OF OHIO
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
RICHARD A. EVANS
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



T.C. NO. 09CR3184 Criminal appeal from Common Pleas Court

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Froelich, J.

Cite as State v. Evans,

OPINION

{¶1} Richard A. Evans was found guilty by a jury of two counts of felonious assault, two counts of murder, two counts of involuntary manslaughter, and one count of having a weapon under disability. He was sentenced to an aggregate term of twenty years to life in prison. He appeals from his convictions.

I

{¶2} On the evening of Friday, September 25, 2009, Evans and Stephen Moody went separately to the Higgins Station Bar with various friends, family members, and acquaintances. Both men were still present when the bar closed at 2:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 26, 2009.

{¶3} For the most part, the numerous witnesses who testified for the State gave consistent testimony about the events that transpired that evening. According to all of the witnesses, there were no problems inside the bar during the course of the evening, but when the bar closed, several altercations broke out in the parking lot among the departing patrons. The witnesses estimated that twenty to forty people were in the parking lot shortly after the bar closed. The witnesses stated that one woman was "jumped" and hit with a bottle by several other women, a man who tried to intervene was sprayed with mace, and other men were throwing punches. The witnesses testified about chaotic fighting in the parking lot; some of the details varied, but most are not pertinent to this appeal. At least two people, including the bar's security personnel, called the police soon after the fighting broke out.

{¶4} Several witnesses testified that, while the fighting in the parking lot was underway, Evans drew a gun and waved it at the crowd, but not at anyone in particular. One witness testified that Evans said "[E]verybody back the F up." No one else was observed with a gun.

{¶5} Several witnesses also testified that they saw Evans walk past Moody and hit him on the left side of the head. The two men had not argued during the course of the evening, and none of the witnesses was aware of animosity between them. Moody did not take any defensive measures as Evans approached him. Most of the witnesses saw only the backside of Evans's hand as he hit Moody, but one witness testified that she saw the butt of a gun in Evans's hand as he struck Moody. All of the witnesses testified that, after Moody was struck with one blow to the left side of his head, he dropped immediately to the ground, unconscious.

{¶6} Moody's friends and family transported him to Good Samaritan Hospital while the police tried to get control of the chaos in the parking lot. Moody was transferred to Miami Valley Hospital soon thereafter, where he remained in a coma until his death from his head injury in early October 2009.

{¶7} The coroner testified that Moody had suffered a "very large fracture" of his skull that extended from his left ear to the right side of his head and that he had suffered bleeding and swelling of his brain. The coroner opined that a fist "could make" the type of rectangular- or trapezoidal-shaped abrasion found on Moody's left ear, but that Moody's injury was "[not] consistent with just being punched with the naked fist." He stated that the type of injury observed in this case "does not happen just with trivial trauma, okay. This is a significant blow to damage this part of the skull and the other areas" shown in the autopsy photographs. The coroner also testified that the injury was "so severe that it actually *** sheared off many of the small blood vessels in the deep part of the brain."

{¶8} Moody's emergency room treating physician from Good Samaritan Hospital also testified that Moody suffered a "blunt trauma" and that she "would find it hard to have someone have that injury from a punch one time," because it requires a significant amount of force to break a bone and cause the amount of bleeding that she had seen on Moody's CAT scan.

{¶9} Evans did not call any witnesses at trial. In cross-examining the State's witnesses, the defense's main focus appears to have been to try to undermine the State's position - presented through medical and eyewitness testimony - that Evans hit Moody with a gun, rather than with his fist.

{ΒΆ10} Evans was indicted on felonious assault (serious physical harm) (Count One), felonious assault (deadly weapon) (Count Two), murder (proximate result of felonious assault - serious physical harm) (Count Three), murder (proximate cause of felonious assault - deadly weapon) (Count Four), involuntary manslaughter (felonious assault - serious physical harm) (Count Five), involuntary manslaughter (proximate result of felonious assault - deadly weapon) (Count Six), and one count of having a weapon under disability (Count Seven). A jury found him guilty on all counts. The trial court merged Counts One, Two, Four, Five, and Six into Count ...


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