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State v. Stein

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District

July 12, 2013

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee
SAMUEL C. STEIN, Defendant-Appellant

(Criminal Appeal from (Common Pleas Court) Trial Court No. 2012-CR-786.

MATHIAS H. HECK, JR., by MICHELE D. PHIPPS, Atty. Reg. #0069829, Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office, Appellate Division, Montgomery County Courts Building, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee.

ELIZABETH C. SCOTT, Atty. Reg. #0076045, Attorney for Defendant-Appellant.



{¶ 1} Defendant-appellant Samuel Stein appeals from his conviction and sentence for Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Murder. Stein contends that his conviction is not supported by the evidence in the record, and is against the manifest weight of the evidence. He also contends that the trial court should have sentenced him to community control sanctions, and abused its discretion by imposing a nine-year prison sentence.

{¶ 2} We conclude that Stein's conviction is supported by the evidence in the record, and is not against the manifest weight of the evidence. We also conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by imposing a nine-year prison sentence. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is Affirmed.

I. Stein Conspires with his Apartment Mate and Ex-Girlfriend to Murder a Previous Ex-Girlfriend and the Mother of his Child

{¶ 3} Stein had a romantic relationship with Nicole Mausolf that lasted from late 2004 to late 2007. They had a son together.

{¶ 4} Stein later became romantically involved with Andrea Ramga, and moved into Ramga's apartment in April 2011. Although their romantic involvement ended after three to four months, Stein continued to live in Ramga's apartment, paying her rent.

{¶ 5} Ramga became aware that Stein "hated" Mausolf, who had taken him to court over child support issues more than once, with the result that Stein was jailed for contempt and lost one of his two jobs. Stein continued to work at a McDonald's restaurant.

{¶ 6} "A couple of months" after Stein moved in with Ramga, he began discussing a plan to kill Mausolf For a while, Ramga did not take Stein seriously, believing that this was just Stein's way of expressing his hatred for Mausolf, and what Mausolf had done to him.

{¶ 7} One Thursday, Stein told Ramga, "if we do this on Friday, I have the weekend off so I can clean up." According to Ramga, "that's when I knew that he was serious. He wanted to do it and he wanted to do it now." Ramga testified that she was afraid for her life for two reasons: first, Stein was exhibiting a propensity to kill his ex-girlfriends, a group to which she belonged; and second, the plan would result in Ramga and Stein being the only surviving witnesses to Mausolf s murder, which could motivate Stein to eliminate Ramda as a witness.

{¶ 8} Ramga called the Miamisburg Police Department the following Monday, March 5, 2012, told them that she was afraid of her roommate, and asked what her options were to get him out of her apartment. Miamisburg Police Officer Justin Small called her back and an appointment was made for her to meet with him later that evening.

{¶ 9} During her meeting with Officer Small, Ramga reported that her roommate, Stein, was asking her to assist him in killing his ex-girlfriend, Mausolf Small then recalled that Stein had come to the police station to complain about Mausolf s having sent harassing text messages to Ramga, and Small had been the police officer who had met with Stein. Small had explained to Stein at that time that Ramga would need to make a complaint in order to initiate any action.

{¶ 10} In fact, after Stein had met with Small, he had prevailed upon Ramga to come to the police station with him to complain about Mausolf Although Ramga had found Mausolf s text messages annoying, she enjoyed a good relationship with Mausolf, and did not consider any of the messages to be harassing. She agreed to go with Stein to the police station because she was afraid of him. The police officer who met with Stein and Ramga (not Officer Small) said that she would call Mausolf to get her to "back off"

{¶ 11} The police officer's plan to call Mausolf was not acceptable to Stein, so no complaint against Mausolf was filed. It was not acceptable to Stein because it was inconsistent with his plan to kill Mausolf. That plan required Ramga to befriend Mausolf, while simultaneously complaining that Mausolf was harassing her. Ramga would then ask Mausolf to come to the apartment some evening after work, where Stein would shoot Mausolf in the face with a shotgun. Stein would then claim that Mausolf had come into the apartment uninvited, and then advanced upon him menacingly, as a result of which Stein had shot her. Stein discussed the fact that he would have to be sure he could kill Mausolf with one shot, since multiple shots would militate against his defense of self-defense. To be sure of killing Mausolf with one shot, Stein would shoot her in the face with a shotgun, at close range.

{¶ 12} Officer Small had Ramga call Stein to discuss the plan to kill Mausolf Stein said nothing in response, and eventually hung up. A recording of this phone call was played for the jury and admitted in evidence. Officer Small then passed Ramga on to Police Detective Ring. Small had no further contact with Ramga.

{¶ 13} The next day, Tuesday, March 6, 2012, Ramga went to the McDonald's where Stein worked, wearing a body wire, and asked to speak with him. A recording of this two-part conversation was played for the jury and admitted in evidence. In the first part, Ramga told Stein that she had decided that: "I think I'm in. I think she's gotta go." Ramga then asked Stein when he wanted to do it, to which Stein responded: "As soon as possible."

{¶ 14} Ramga asked Stein if he wanted to do it the next night, adding that she could call Mausolf and ask her to meet Ramga at the apartment about 8:00. Stein replied: "Yeah." Ramga then asked Stein if she should be in the back room or in the bathroom. Stein responded: "You want, just, just let her in and then go in the bathroom." Stein then added: "And then, and then, you know, you were in the bathroom, I heard the door open, I came out, and whoa ... ."

{¶ 15} Ramga then told Stein that she could call Mausolf from her mother's house and block the number, but Stein said: "I wouldn't do that." Later in this conversation, Stein explained why he did not want to interfere with the ability to trace the call back to Ramga - he could incorporate the phone call from Ramga to Mausolf into his plan: "But anyway, so, I mean, so basically, you know, we, you called her, told, you know, told her to quit callin' and textin' or you were gonna call the police, and you know, that was it, you didn't think anything else was gonna happen, you know, you know, you felt better about it. The next thing we know she shows up."

{¶ 16} After Ramga then said: "She shows up and walks in the house, " Stein continued: "She shows up and walks in the house while you're in the bathroom. I came out and saw her, told her to get the f*ck out, she wouldn't leave, she came at me, I let her have it, and you heard the scuffle and came out, freaked out, and you know, I said, I'm callin' the police."

{¶ 17} After Ramga then said: "Okay, " Stein said: "I mean, that's, the simpler, the better." This part of the conversation continued, but nothing of further consequence was said.

{¶ 18} Stein went back into the McDonald's after this part of the conversation. Detective Ring, who, with another officer, was parked elsewhere in the McDonald's lot, then called Ramga and asked her to see if she could get Stein to discuss the role of the shotgun in the plan to kill Mausolf Ramga had asked Stein: "You still have your shotgun, right, " to which Stein responded affirmatively, but there had been no other mention of the shotgun.

{¶ 19} Ramga then succeeded in getting Stein back out of the McDonald's where he worked. She asked him: "Um, how am I, I'm not going to get hit with the shotgun bullet?" Stein replied: "You're gonna be in the bathroom."

{¶ 20} After a couple more exchanges, Stein referred to the fact that he would "get my shotgun, " and "get in the kitchen, behind the stove."[1]

{¶ 21} At the end of this, the second part of the two-part conversation, Stein told Ramga to keep her part "really simple." After reviewing her part with Ramga one more time, Stein ...

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