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State v. Wilson

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth District, Scioto

March 27, 2017

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CHRISTOPHER WILSON, Defendant-Appellant.

          Robert W. Bright, Middleport, Ohio, for appellant.

          John R. Haas, Portsmouth City Solicitor, Portsmouth, Ohio, for appellee.

          DECISION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY

          Marie Hoover, Judge.

         {¶1} 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 court.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         {¶2} 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.

         {¶3} 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.

         {¶4} 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.

         {¶5} 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.

         {¶6} No evidence was presented at trial by either party as to the day of the week that October 4, 2014, fell on.

         {¶7} 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.

         {¶8} 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 knew that.
JUDGE: Okay. Mr. Fisher was that the determining factor for you?
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 ...

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