Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth District, Scioto
W. Bright, Middleport, Ohio, for appellant.
R. Haas, Portsmouth City Solicitor, Portsmouth, Ohio, for
DECISION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY
Defendant-appellant, Christopher Wilson ("Wilson"),
appeals his conviction in the Portsmouth Municipal Court.
Wilson was convicted of assault in violation of R.C.
2903.13(A) following a jury trial. On appeal, Wilson contends
that the trial court erred by denying his motion for mistrial
after it was alleged that the jury engaged in misconduct
during deliberations. After a careful review of the record,
we conclude that the alleged misconduct did not prejudice
Wilson. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial
Facts and Procedural History
Wilson was charged in the Portsmouth Municipal Court with one
count of assault, a misdemeanor of the first degree, in
violation of R.C. 2903.13. Wilson pleaded not guilty, and the
matter proceeded to a jury trial.
In its case-in-chief, the State called four witnesses: Fred
Magneta, the alleged victim; Rhonda Price, a witness of the
incident; Deputy Nick Williams, the responding officer from
the Scioto County Sheriff's Office; and Deputy Matt
Frantz of the Scioto County Sheriff's Office.
Magneta testified that on October 4, 2014, Wilson punched him
three times in the face outside of his residence in Rarden,
Scioto County, Ohio. Price corroborated Magneta's
testimony, but added that while she knew the incident
occurred in October 2014, she could not remember the exact
date. Deputy Williams testified that he was dispatched to
Magneta's residence on October 4, 2014, due to complaints
that Magneta had been assaulted. Deputy Williams stated that
he did not witness the alleged assault, but he did complete
an incident report, and took photographs of Magneta's
injuries and the scene of the incident. Three of the
photographs were admitted as exhibits in the trial court
proceedings. Deputy Frantz testified that he had completed an
incident report in September 2014 in which Wilson
"relayed some allegations * * * about Mr. Magneta",
but that he never contacted Magneta about the allegations and
charges were never filed in that instance.
In his defense, Wilson testified on his own behalf, and also
presented the testimony of his mother, Teresa Newman. Newman
testified that her son could not have assaulted Magneta on
October 4, 2014, because he would have been present at her
home to pick up his daughter from the school bus stop at or
around the time that the alleged assault occurred. Wilson
also denied that he punched Magneta on October 4, 2014, or at
any other time, and denied that he had been to Magneta's
residence on October 4, 2014. Wilson further testified that
he was with his mother and was picking up his daughter from
the school bus stop on October 4, 2014.
No evidence was presented at trial by either party as to the
day of the week that October 4, 2014, fell on.
Upon the completion of the presentation of evidence, closing
arguments, and final instructions, the jury deliberated and
reached a verdict. As the jury was being escorted back to the
courtroom, to return its verdict, a juror commented to the
bailiff something to the effect "we knew he was lying
when October the 4th was a Saturday * * *." The bailiff
reported the statement to the trial court and counsel for the
State and defendant were informed. The trial court read the
guilty verdict of the jury in open court. Following the
reading of the guilty verdict, the court and counsel for the
defendant inquired the jury regarding the jury's
determination given the information provided to the court by
the bailiff. During this inquiry, a juror admitted to
consulting a calendar on their cellphone to determine what
day of the week that October 4, 2014, fell on. Furthermore,
it was determined that the juror had shared the discovered
information with the rest of the jury during deliberations.
The trial court then polled the jury to determine if the fact
that October 4th was not a school day was a determining
factor for any of the jurors.
JUDGE: * * * With you Mr. Cassidy was that a determining
factor in this matter?
JUROR CASSIDY: My mind was made up when I left the courtroom.
JUDGE: Mr. Davis was that a determining factor for you?
JUROR DAVIS: No uh I had already made up my mind before I
JUDGE: Okay. Mr. Fisher was that the determining factor for
JUROR FISHER: No.
JUDGE: Mr. Amburgey was that the determining factor for you?
JUROR AMBURGERY: No sir.
JUDGE: Mr. Hanson was that the determining factor for you?
JUROR HANSON: No.
JUDGE: Mrs. Cayton was that the determining ...