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State v. Hunter

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District

August 30, 2013

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
GERMAINE HUNTER, Defendant-Appellant

(Criminal appeal from Common Pleas Court) T.C. No. 12CR916.

MICHELE D. PHIPPS, Atty. Reg. No. 0069829, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee.

WILLIAM T. DALY, Atty. Reg. No. 0069300, Attorney for Defendant-Appellant.

OPINION

YARBROUGH, J.

I. Introduction

(¶ 1} Appellant, Germaine Hunter, appeals the judgment of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, ordering him to pay restitution in the amount of $463.28 to the Dayton Fire Department following his conviction for aggravated arson. For the following reasons, we reverse.

A. Facts and Procedural Background

(¶ 2} On the early evening of March 23, 2012, Dayton Fire Department Investigator Nicholas Scowden was dispatched to 312 North Upland for a fire investigation. Upon arriving at the scene, Scowden spoke with a neighbor, Michael Webster, who stated that he knew who set the fire inside the house. Webster stated that, as he was walking back to his house, he saw smoke coming from the upstairs window of 312 North Upland. He immediately called 911. Webster proceeded to kick in the side door and enter the premises. Once inside, Webster found Hunter and attempted to rescue him. Upon exiting the house, Hunter began running down the street.

(¶ 3} After completing his investigation into the cause of the fire, Scowden concluded that the fire was the result of arson. Specifically, he determined that the fire originated in three separate areas in the house. Inside the house, Scowden found clothing and trash piled up in the corner of the room that had been set on fire, in addition to a set of matches and a burnt gasoline can.

(¶ 4} Scowden ultimately contacted Dayton police regarding the arson. After a short time, Hunter was located and transported to the Safety Building for an interview. He immediately admitted to starting the fire by throwing a match on the gasoline he poured on the carpet. As a result of his admission, Hunter was arrested and charged with aggravated arson. He was subsequently indicted on two counts of aggravated arson in violation of R.C. 2909.02(A)(1).

(¶ 5} Six months after his indictment, Hunter entered into a plea agreement whereby he pled no contest to one count of aggravated arson. The state entered a nolle prosequi as to the remaining count. As a result of his no contest plea, the court found Hunter guilty of aggravated arson, and, on November 14, 2012, sentenced him to a three-year prison term. Additionally, Hunter was ordered to pay $463.28 in restitution to the Dayton Fire Department in connection with its investigatory expenses. At sentencing, Hunter's counsel objected to the imposition of restitution on the basis that the Dayton Fire Department was not a victim in this case.

B. Assignment of Error

(¶ 6} Hunter now appeals the trial court's judgment, assigning the following error for our review: "Whether the trial court erred by awarding restitution to a third party, namely ...


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