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State v. Tyson

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth District

August 9, 2013

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DENNIS J. TYSON, Defendant-Appellant.

Aaron M. McHenry, Benson, McHenry & Sesser, LLC, Chillicothe, Ohio, for Defendant-Appellant.

Matthew S. Schmidt, Ross County Prosecuting Attorney, and Jeffrey C. Marks, Ross County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Chillicothe, Ohio, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

DECISION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY

HOOVER, J.

(¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Dennis J. Tyson, appeals his conviction in the Ross County Common Pleas Court for assault on a corrections officer. Appellant contends that the evidence introduced at trial is insufficient to support his conviction, or alternatively that the conviction is against the manifest weight of the evidence. We disagree, because after viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, we find that any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Further, a review of the entire record fails to persuade us that the jury lost its way or created a manifest miscarriage of justice. Appellant next contends that he was afforded ineffective assistance of counsel. We disagree. The complained-of actions were part of a reasonable trial strategy. Moreover, even if the actions of appellant's counsel were unreasonable, they were not so prejudicial so as to deprive appellant a fair trial. Accordingly, we overrule appellant's assignments of error and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

(¶ 2} A review of the record reveals the following events. Captain Josh Wells, an employee of the department of rehabilitation and corrections, alleged that during an altercation in the Chillicothe Correctional Institution chow hall, appellant-inmate punched him in the left side of his face. Appellant was charged with felonious assault in violation of R.C. 2903.13. He pled not guilty and, following a jury trial, was convicted and sentenced to a nine (9) month prison term to be served consecutively with a prison term imposed upon him in a prior case. Appellant timely appealed, raising two assignments of error. First Assignment of Error:

THE EVIDENCE WAS INSUFFICIENT AS A MATTER OF LAW TO CONVICT DENNIS TYSON OF FELONIOUS ASSAULT; OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE, THE CONVICTION WAS AGAINST THE MANIFEST WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE.

Second Assignment of Error:

DENNIS TYSON WAS DENIED THE EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL IN VIOLATION OF THE SIXTH AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION AND COMPARABLE PROVISIONS OF OHIO'S CONSTITUTION.

(¶ 3} In his first assignment of error, appellant argues that his conviction is based on insufficient evidence and is against the manifest weight of the evidence.

(¶ 4} The "arguments concerning the 'sufficiency' and 'manifest weight' of the evidence present two distinct legal concepts." State v. Davis, 4th Dist. No. 12CA3336, 2013-Ohio-1504, ¶ 12. "When reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, our inquiry focuses primarily upon the adequacy of the evidence; that is, whether the evidence, if believed, reasonably could support a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt." Id. "The standard of review is whether, after viewing the probative evidence and inferences reasonably drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found all the essential elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt." Id., citing Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979).

(¶ 5} Therefore, when we review a sufficiency of the evidence claim in a criminal case, we review the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution. State v. Hill, 75 Ohio St.3d 195, 205, 661 N.E.2d 1068 (1996); State v. Grant, 67 Ohio St.3d 465, 477, 620 N.E.2d 50 (1993). A reviewing court will not overturn a conviction on a sufficiency of the evidence claim unless reasonable minds could not reach the conclusion the trier of fact did. State v. Tibbetts, 92 Ohio St.3d 146, 162, 749 N.E.2d 226 (2001); State v. Treesh, 90 Ohio St.3d 460, 484, 739 N.E.2d 749 (2001).

(¶ 6} "Although a court of appeals may determine that a judgment of a trial court is sustained by sufficient evidence, that court may nevertheless conclude that the judgment is against the weight of the evidence." State v. Topping, 4th Dist. No. 11CA6, 2012-Ohio-5617, ¶ 60. "When an appellate court considers a claim that a conviction is against the manifest weight of the evidence, the court must dutifully examine the entire record, weigh the evidence, and consider the credibility of witnesses." Id. The reviewing court must bear in mind, however, that credibility generally is an issue for the trier of fact to resolve. E.g., State v. Issa, 93 Ohio St.3d 49, 67, 752 N.E.2d 904 (2001); State v. DeHass, 10 Ohio St .2d 230, 39 O.O.2d 366, 227 N.E.2d 212 (1967), paragraph one of the syllabus; State v. Murphy, 4th Dist. No. 07CA2953, 2008– Ohio–1744, ¶ 31.

(¶ 7} "Once the reviewing court finishes its examination, the court may reverse the judgment of conviction only if it appears that the fact-finder, when resolving the conflicts in evidence, clearly lost its way and created such a manifest miscarriage of justice that the conviction must be reversed and a new trial ordered." (Citations omitted.) Davis, 2013-Ohio-1504 at ¶ 14. "A reviewing court should find a conviction against the manifest weight of the evidence only in the exceptional case in which the evidence weighs heavily against the conviction." (Citations omitted.) Id. at ¶ 15.

(¶ 8} Appellant was convicted of assault against a corrections officer in violation of R.C. 2903.13, which provides that no person incarcerated in a state correctional institution shall knowingly cause or attempt to cause physical harm to an employee of the department of rehabilitation and correction on the grounds of a state correctional institution.[1] "A person acts knowingly, regardless of his purpose, when he is aware that his conduct will probably cause a certain result or will probably be of a certain nature. A person has knowledge of circumstances when he is aware that such circumstances probably exist." R.C. 2901.22(B).

(¶ 9} Wells testified that he was monitoring the chow hall of the Chillicothe Correctional Institution on the morning of January 15, 2011. Wells observed the appellant in the chow hall, approached appellant, and questioned appellant regarding his authorization to be admitted for early lunch. Wells then directed appellant to take a seat at a dining table near a telephone in the chow hall. Wells then called appellant's dormitory officer to inquire whether appellant had been let out early for chow. The dormitory officer reported that appellant was not authorized to leave early for lunch.

(¶ 10} Wells then contends that he instructed the appellant, more than once, to report to "Post Five" for an interview. Wells said that the appellant stared at him, shook his head, and laughed. After ignoring the order several times, Wells testified that he placed his hand on appellant's arm and said, "come on lets go, " and was going to escort appellant to Post Five. At that time, Wells said that the appellant stood up, took a step, and struck him in the left side of his face.

(ΒΆ 11} Wells testified that the force of the punch spun him around, and by the time he gained his composure, other officers and employees in the area had already secured the appellant. The punch allegedly caused minor swelling of ...


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