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State v. Kiser

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Seneca

June 12, 2017

STATE OF OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
JAMES R. KISER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

         Appeal from Seneca County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No. 15-CR-0264

          Jennifer L. Kahler for Appellant

          Stephanie J. Reed for Appellee

          OPINION

          WILLAMOWSKI, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant James Kiser ("Kiser") brings this appeal from the judgment of the Court of Common Pleas entering a judgment of conviction to two counts of trafficking in cocaine, sentencing him to prison and ordering him to pay restitution to the Seneca County Drug Task Force METRICH Enforcement Unit ("the task force"). For the reasons set forth below, the judgment is affirmed.

         {¶2} On November 24, 2015, a confidential informant ("the CI") made a controlled buy of crack cocaine on behalf of the task force. The CI went to a gas station and waited for the motor vehicle used by the seller to arrive. When it did, the CI leaned inside the vehicle and purchased .24 grams of cocaine. The CI testified and the video footage showed that the seller was Kiser.

         {¶3} On November 30, 2015, the CI was making another buy, this time from April Hull ("Hull"). The CI went to Hull's home and gave the purchase money to Hull. Hull then went to a nearby parking lot where she met a motor vehicle used by the seller and returned with .79 grams of cocaine, which she then gave to the CI. Hull later indicated that Kiser sold her the cocaine.

         {¶4} On June 1, 2016, the Seneca County Grand Jury indicted Kiser on two counts of trafficking in cocaine in violation of R.C. 2925.03(A)(1), (C)(4)(a), both felonies of the fifth degree. Doc. 2. Both counts also contained a specification seeking forfeiture of $70 and a cell phone as relating to the charges. Id. A jury trial was held on the charges on August 18-19, 2016. At the conclusion of the trial the jury found Kiser guilty of both counts, but did not find the specifications to be supported by the evidence. Doc. 40-43. A sentencing hearing was held on September 29, 2016. Doc. 50. The trial court sentenced Kiser to eleven months on each count to be served consecutively. Id. The trial court also ordered Kiser to pay a non-mandatory fine of $160 to the task force. Id. Kiser filed a timely appeal from this judgment. Doc. 52. On appeal, Kiser raises the following assignments of error.

         First Assignment of Error

         [Kiser's] conviction for trafficking in cocaine was not supported by legally sufficient evidence.

         Second Assignment of Error

         [Kiser's] convictions for trafficking in cocaine fell against the manifest weight of the evidence.

         Third Assignment of Error

         [Kiser's] sentence is contrary to law.

         Trial Testimony

         {¶5} During the trial, the State presented the testimony of seven witnesses. Kiser rested without presenting any evidence. The relevant testimony presented by the State began with Detective Charles Boyer ("Boyer").[1] Boyer testified that he works for the Tiffin Police Department and was assigned to the task force. Tr. 147. On November 24, 2015, he was monitoring a "controlled purchase" performed by the CI. Tr. 156-57. On that day, he placed the recording devices on the CI and gave her $100 in cash, which had had the serial numbers recorded, to purchase crack cocaine. Tr. 159. Boyer observed the CI walk to the parking lot of a gas station and wait until a silver van approached. Tr. 161-62. Upon the arrival of the van, the CI walked up to the passenger window and spoke with the occupants. Tr. 162. Once the transaction was completed, the CI stepped back and the van left the lot. Tr. 162. Boyer then met up with the CI on a bike path where he retrieved two baggies containing a substance. Tr. 162-63. The baggies were packaged, labeled, and stored in the evidence ...


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