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State v. Lamotte

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Belmont

March 1, 2017

STATE OF OHIO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
MICHAEL C. LAMOTTE DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

         Criminal Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Belmont County, Ohio Case No. 14 CR 259 Affirmed.

          For Plaintiff-Appellee Attorney Daniel P. Fry Belmont County Prosecutor Attorney J. Flanagan

          For Defendant-Appellant Attorney Zachary Zilai

          Hon. Mary DeGenaro Hon. Cheryl L. Waite Hon. Carol Ann Robb

          OPINION

          DeGENARO, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-Appellant, Michael C. Lamotte, appeals the trial court's judgment contending it was error to admit a 911 recording into evidence during his jury trial. As Lamotte's argument is meritless, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

         {¶2} After receiving a phone call from her father Michael Lamotte, Catherine Lamotte called 911 and stated that Michael had shot her mother, Beverly. A Belmont County Sherriffs Deputy responded to the call. He arrived to the residence and saw a woman lying on the front porch wrapped in a comforter, stiff, cold, and unconscious. The body was later identified as Beverly.

         {¶3} The deputy encountered Lamotte who appeared to be in a disoriented state and did not want to leave the house. Lamotte was eventually tackled and taken into custody. After an investigation it was determined that Beverly suffered three gunshot wounds: one to the temple, one to the side of the face, and one to the back right shoulder. Lamotte was indicted for Aggravated Murder and a firearm specification.

         {¶4} During Lamotte's jury trial the State called Brian Minder to testify as the custodian of the 911 records. Over the objection of defense counsel, the audio recording of Catherine stating that her father had shot her mother Beverly was played for the jury. The recording was played again during the cross-examination of Catherine.

         {¶5} Lamotte was convicted by a jury of murder and a firearm specification and sentenced to 18 years to life.

         {¶6} In his sole assignment of error, Lamotte asserts:

THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED ERROR IN ALLOWING THE ADMISSION OF THE RECORDING OF THE 911 CALL MADE BY THE DAUGHTER OF THE DEFENDANT.

         {¶7} Lamotte contends that pursuant to Evid.R. 403(A) the probative value of the recording was substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. The State counters that the trial court has broad discretion and it did not err because the 911 recording was substantially more probative than prejudicial.

         {¶8} Evid.R. 403 provides for the exclusion of relevant evidence due to prejudice, confusion, or undue delay. "The admission of evidence lies within the broad discretion of a trial court, and a reviewing court should not disturb evidentiary decisions in the absence of an abuse of discretion that has created material prejudice." State v. Lett, 7th Dist. No 08 MA 194, 2009-Ohio-5268, ΒΆ 12 (internal citations omitted). "An abuse of discretion means an error in judgment involving a decision that is unreasonable based upon the record; that the appellate court ...


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