Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Muskingum
Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas, Case No. CR2015-0216
Plaintiff-Appellee D. MICHAEL HADDOX PROSECUTING ATTORNEY
GERALD V. ANDERSON II ASSISTANT PROSECUTOR
Defendant-Appellant NIKKI TRAUTMAN BASZYNSKI ASSISTANT PUBLIC
JUDGES: Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P. J. Hon. John W. Wise, J. Hon.
Craig R. Baldwin, J.
Appellant Emile Weaver appeals her conviction, in the Court
of Common Pleas, Muskingum County, for aggravated murder and
three additional felony counts. Appellee is the State of
Ohio. The relevant facts leading to this appeal are as
In the spring of 2015, Appellant Weaver was a student at
Muskingum University, residing in a campus sorority house on
Lakeside Drive in New Concord. She was pregnant, but she had
in various ways denied or covered up this fact.
On April 22, 2015, appellant went into a bathroom in the
sorority house and, without assistance, delivered a daughter,
Addison Grace Weaver. The baby was delivered into the toilet;
appellant, while bleeding profusely, delivered the placenta,
cut the umbilical cord, and pulled the baby out of the
toilet. She then placed the placenta and the baby in a small
pail that was in the bathroom. She thereupon left the
bathroom and rested on a couch.
At some point, appellant returned to the bathroom with a
garbage bag and placed the baby, the placenta, paper towels,
and some of her clothing inside the bag. She then carried the
bag to the side door of the sorority house and placed it
outside, next to a garbage can. After this, she went back
inside the house to lie down.
Later that day, two sorority members found the bag lying next
to the house. They tore a hole in the bag and thereupon
contacted university officials.
After first responders came to the scene, paramedics asked
appellant if she was the mother of the baby found outside.
Appellant answered in the negative. Appellant was also
interviewed that night by Detective Todd Mahle of the
Muskingum County Sheriffs Office. The interview took place
from 10:26 p.m. until 3:46 a.m. in a break room at the
Muskingum University Police building. Appellant eventually
detailed to the detective the events that had occurred that
morning, although she presented different versions as to
whether Addison was born alive and the type of movements or
noises she made during the whole incident. Detective Mahle
did not utilize any recording equipment during the interview.
At Mahle's request, appellant returned the next day at
about noon to provide a recorded statement.
An autopsy was subsequently performed on Addison. The results
showed that she had been born alive, but had died of
asphyxiation. Tr. at 347, 350, 382.
On July 22, 2016, appellant was indicted by the Muskingum
County Grand Jury on one count of aggravated murder, one
count of gross abuse of a corpse, and two counts of tampering
The case proceeded to a jury trial commencing on May 10,
2016. The State's theory was that Addison died from lack
of oxygen after appellant placed her inside the garbage bag.
Tr. at 871. Appellant's trial counsel moved for an
instruction on reckless homicide, based on the defense theory
that the baby could have died from positional asphyxiation
from the way that appellant placed the baby in the pail. The
request for the instruction was granted. Tr. at 812, 815,
881. However, Dr. Jeffrey Lee, the deputy coroner who
conducted the autopsy, had expressed doubt in his testimony
that positional asphyxiation was the cause of death or
asphyxiation. See Tr. at 408.
Appellant was ultimately found guilty on all counts. At
sentencing, the trial court merged the two
tampering-with-evidence counts and imposed a one-year prison
sentence on said offense. The trial court further imposed a
three-year prison sentence for gross abuse of a corpse. It
ordered these sentences to run consecutively to each other
and to the sentence for aggravated murder. Finally, the trial
court imposed life in prison without parole for the offense
of aggravated murder. In support of its sentencing decision,
the trial court concluded that appellant was not remorseful,
that she had committed "the worst form of the offense,
" and that she had caused emotional hardship to her
sorority sisters. Sentencing Tr. at 10-16.
On July 20, 2016, appellant filed a notice of appeal. She
herein raises the following four Assignments of Error:
"I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED WHEN IT IMPOSED A