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State v. Wolfe

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Licking

April 7, 2017

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
DONALD C. WOLFE Defendant-Appellant

         Criminal appeal from the Licking County Municipal Court, Case No. 15-CRB-1916

          For Plaintiff-Appellee MARK GARDNER Village Solicitor Village of Buckeye Lake

          For Defendant-Appellant MICHAEL DALSANTO

          JUDGES: Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, P.J. Hon. W. Scott Gwin, J. Hon. William B. Hoffman, J.

          OPINION

          GWIN, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Donald C. Wolfe ["Wolfe"] appeals his conviction and sentence after a jury trial in the Licking County Municipal Court on one count of Abandoning Animals.

         Facts and Procedural History

         {¶2} October 22, 2015, Wolfe was charged with one count of Abandoning Animals in violation of R.C. 959.01 and one count of Prohibitions Concerning Companion animals in violation of R.C. 959.131.

         {¶3} This matter was scheduled for a Bench Trial on December 29, 2015. Prior to trial, Wolfe filed a jury demand and motion to continue the trial date. The case was rescheduled for a pretrial conference on February 9, 2016 and a jury trial on February 11, 2016. Wolfe failed to appear for the scheduled pretrial and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest.

         {¶4} Wolfe was arrested on February 22, 2016 and this case was rescheduled for a Pretrial and Jury Trial on April 5, 2016 and April 7, 2016.

         {¶5} Wolfe filed a Motion to Continue on May 2, 2106 and this case was consolidated with the case involving his wife and rescheduled for a Jury Trial on May 26, 2016.

         {¶6} On May 26, 2016, the Jury Trial was held and the following evidence was presented.

         {¶7} Randy Bussey is a member of the Buckeye Lake Street Department. Bussey testified that he found a puppy behind the Dollar General in Buckeye Lake in a Dollar General shopping bag. The bag was tied closed. Bussey immediately called Sergeant Andy Davis.

         {¶8} Sergeant Davis responded to Bussey's phone call and met with him at the Buckeye Lake Police Department. Sergeant Davis observed the puppy and noted that it was "soaking wet" and "looked to be pretty sick." Sergeant Davis and Bussey took the puppy to the local Petplex Animal Hospital.

         {¶9} Several days later, Sergeant Davis interviewed Wolfe and his co-defendant, Ms. Levan. During that interview, Ms. Levan stated that she had "gotten two dogs from Michael Moyer, " that the dogs were pit bull puppies, and that the first puppy had passed away. Sergeant Davis testified that Ms. Levan stated that they had "met some random guy that was walking down the street" who "agreed to take [the] puppy...." (T. at 64). Ms. Levan admitted that if the puppy was found in a bag, that the bag would have her fingerprints on it because "she had handed [the] unknown man [the] dog in the bag..." (T. at 65).

         {¶10} Doctor Joanna Reen, the veterinarian who treated the dog described the puppy's physical situation as "pretty critical" at intake: that she was hypothermic, ...


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