Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Champaign
Appeal from Common Pleas Court T.C. NO. 15-CR-277.
A. NAPIER, Atty. Reg. No. 0061426, Assistant Prosecuting
Attorney, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee
JENNIFER D. BRUMBY, Atty. Reg. No. 0076440, Attorney for
1} Michael Stapleton pled guilty in the Champaign
County Court of Common Pleas to murder, an unclassified
felony, and burglary, a felony of the third degree. The trial
court sentenced him to consecutive sentences totaling 18
years to life in prison and ordered him to pay restitution,
court-appointed counsel fees, and court costs.
2} Stapleton appeals from his conviction, claiming
that the trial court failed to comply with Crim.R. 11 at his
plea hearing and erred in imposing maximum consecutive
sentences. For the following reasons, the trial court's
judgment will be affirmed.
Background and Procedural History
3} In November 2015, Stapleton resided with his
wife, his mother-in-law, and his mother-in-law's husband.
Six children also resided in the household; Stapleton's
inlaws had a combined three children from prior
relationships, Stapleton had two children with his wife, and
his wife had an additional child from another relationship.
One child was a teenager; the others were seven years old or
4} During the morning and afternoon hours of
November 29, 2015, Stapleton was the primary caregiver for
the six children while the other adults were at work. During
that time, Stapleton physically abused B.J., the
four-year-old son of his mother-in-law's husband. B.J.
suffered severe blunt force trauma to his head and abdomen.
When B.J. did not awaken from a nap that afternoon, Stapleton
called family members and 911. B.J. was transported to the
hospital. He died from the abuse.
5} On December 10, 2015, Stapleton was indicted on
three counts of murder, one count of felonious assault, three
counts of endangering children, one count of involuntary
manslaughter, and one count of possession of criminal tools.
All of the charges stemmed from the events of November 29.
Stapleton initially pled not guilty to the charges. He
remained in jail while the charges were pending.
6} While monitoring Stapleton's telephone
conversations at the jail, the Champaign County Sheriff's
Office became aware that Stapleton was concerned that law
enforcement would learn about an unrelated offense. Through
additional investigation, the sheriffs office learned that,
sometime between November 1 and 4, 2015, Stapleton had broken
into a family member's residence in Champaign County and
had stolen money, a Hi-Point handgun, and ammunition.
Stapleton had filed off the serial number on the gun and
attempted to sell it. While in jail, Stapleton wrote to his
father, asking for help in retrieving and disposing of the
7} On March 25, 2016, Stapleton entered into a plea
agreement with the State, pursuant to which he pled guilty to
one count of murder (Count Four: proximate result of
endangering children) and to burglary (Count Ten), which was
added at the plea hearing by a bill of information. In
exchange for the plea, the State agreed to dismiss the
remaining eight charges and to recommend a presentence
investigation. A presentence investigation was conducted, and
the parties filed detailed sentencing memoranda. On April 20,
2016, the trial court sentenced Stapleton to consecutive
sentences of 15 years to life for the murder and 36 months
for the burglary. He was also ordered to pay $350 in
restitution to the victims of the burglary, court-appointed
counsel fees, and court costs.
8} Stapleton appeals from his conviction, raising
two assignments of error.
Compliance with Crim.R. 11
9} In his first assignment of error, Stapleton
asserts that the trial court failed to comply with Crim.R. 11
in accepting his guilty pleas. Specifically, he argues that
"he was not properly advised that if he went to trial,
he would be entitled to a presumption of innocence" and
"would not have to prove or disprove any facts in the
case, or call any witnesses." Stapleton asserts that,