from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. No. 15CR-1944
brief: Ron O'Brien, Prosecuting Attorney, and Steven L.
Taylor, for appellee.
brief: Hollern & Associates, and H. Tim Merkle, for
1} Defendant-appellant, Joseph L. Sullens, appeals
from his conviction in the Franklin County Court of Common
Pleas, for domestic violence under R.C. 2919.25. For the
reasons set forth below, we affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
2} Sullens was indicted on one count of domestic
violence under R.C. 2919.25 on April 20, 2015. The indictment
charged the domestic violence count as a third-degree felony,
based on the allegation that Sullens had multiple previous
convictions for domestic violence. (Apr. 20, 2015
3} After pleading not guilty, Sullens waived his
right to a jury trial. (Apr. 22, 2015 Plea of Not Guilty;
Nov. 2, 2015 Entry.) The trial court held a bench trial on
November 3, 2015.
4} During a pretrial conference, the prosecution
moved the trial court to call the victim, Z.S., as its own
witness. The defense objected, arguing that the request to
have the trial court call Z.S. as a witness was an attempt by
the prosecution to circumvent the rule that a party cannot
impeach its own witness with a prior inconsistent statement.
The prosecution responded that it was within the trial
court's discretion to call Z.S. as a witness, regardless
of any intent to impeach her with inconsistencies between her
testimony and prior statements to the police. The trial court
overruled the defense's objection and stated that it
would call Z.S. as its own witness, citing its authority to
do so under Evid.R. 614(A). (Nov. 3, 2015 Tr. at 5-8.)
5} On the stand, Z.S. testified that Sullens had
been convicted of domestic violence on seven occasions with
her as the victim and one additional occasion with her father
as the victim. (Tr. at 13-14.) She testified that on April 5,
2015, Sullens "got upset and started arguing" with
her after she received a phone call from a friend wishing her
a happy birthday. (Tr. at 15.) The prosecution and Z.S. had
the following exchange:
Q. Then what happened?
A. I really don't remember, I really don't recall,
but I think he smacked me.
Q. Where did he smack you?
A. Up side my head.
Q. The side of your head?
Q. Alright. Were you upset when that happened?
A. No. I just didn't want things to get out of hand. That
is why I called the police.
Q. So you called the police?
A. I think. I don't remember if somebody else did.
I'm not really sure.
(Tr. at 15.)
6} The prosecution then played a recording of a 911
call in which the caller stated: "My husband beat me and
I have blood (unintelligible). I need some help." (Tr.
At 16.) The caller identified herself as Z.S. and Sullens as
the assailant. When questioned, Z.S. stated that she