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State v. Atkins

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Mercer

August 21, 2017

STATE OF OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
CASEY L. ATKINS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

         Appeal from Mercer County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No. 16-CRM-139

          Richard M. Delzeith for Appellant

          Matthew K. Fox and Joshua A. Muhlenkamp for Appellee

          OPINION

          ZIMMERMAN, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant, Casey Atkins ("Atkins") appeals the judgment and sentence of the Mercer County Common Pleas Court wherein he was found guilty of one count of Robbery in violation of 2911.02(A)(3) by R.C. 2911.02(B), a felony of the third degree, and one count of Theft in violation of 2913.02(A)(1) and 2913.02(B)(2), a felony of the fifth degree.

         Facts and Procedural History

         {¶2} On November 17, 2016, Atkins was indicted on two criminal counts in Mercer County: Count One, Robbery, in violation of R.C. 2911.02(A)(3) by R.C. 2911.02(B), a felony of the third degree; and Count Two, Theft, in violation of R.C. 2913.02(A)(1) and (B)(2), a felony of the fifth degree. The charges stem from a bank robbery that occurred at the Second National Bank in Celina, Ohio on September 23, 2016. Atkins pled not guilty to each count on November 28, 2016.

         {¶3} On January 18-19, 2017, the case proceeded to a trial to the court. At trial the State called ten (10) witnesses. However, only the testimonies of the following witnesses are relevant in our appellate review as the appellant has only appealed the trial court's verdict on his robbery conviction: Allison Byron ("Byron"), the bank teller at Second National Bank; Atkins' two co-defendants, Timothy Rios ("Rios") and Joshuia Bursey ("Bursey"); and Detective Ron Waltmire ("Detective Waltmire"), with the Celina Police Department.

         {¶4} At the conclusion of the State's case in chief, defense counsel made a Criminal Rule 29 motion for acquittal arguing that the State failed to prove all of the elements of robbery. The trial court overruled the Rule 29 motion and Atkins did not present a defense thereafter.

         {¶5} The trial court found Atkins guilty of Robbery and Theft and sentenced him to thirty months in prison.[1] On March 22, 2017, the trial court filed its judgment entry memorializing Atkins' sentence. It is from this judgment that Atkins appeals, asserting the following assignment of error for our review.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

         THE STATE FAILED TO INTRODUCE SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE OF THE CHARGE OF ROBBERY, A RESULTING CONVICTION IS AGAINST THE MANIFEST WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE AND DEPRIVED THE DEFENDANT OF SUBSTANTIVE AND PROCEDURAL DUE PROCESS IN VIOLATION OF THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION.

         {¶6} In his sole assignment of error, Atkins argues that his conviction for robbery was not supported by sufficient evidence and is against the manifest weight of the evidence. Specifically, Atkins contends that the element of "force" was not proven by the State to satisfy that particular element of robbery. Because we apply different standards of review for sufficiency and manifest weight of the evidence, we will discuss those standards separately. However, we will analyze appellant's arguments together. We note that the trial court found the theft and robbery convictions were merged. Atkins does not contest his conviction and sentence for Theft under Count Two, so we will just review the evidence as it relates to his Robbery conviction.

         Sufficiency of Evidence

         {¶7} When reviewing a case to determine whether the record contains sufficient evidence to support a conviction, our role "is to examine the evidence admitted at trial to determine whether such evidence, if believed, would convince the average mind of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The relevant inquiry is whether, after viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt". State v. Jenks, 61 Ohio St.3d 259, at paragraph two of the syllabus.

         {¶8} The claim of insufficient evidence raises a question of law and does not allow the court to weigh the evidence. State v. Martin, 20 Ohio App.3d 172, 175. Thus, this standard "gives full play to the responsibility of the trier of fact * * * to resolve conflicts in the testimony, to weigh the evidence, and to draw reasonable inferences from basic facts to ultimate facts". Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319 (1979). Accordingly, the weight given to the evidence and the credibility of witnesses are issues for the trier of fact. State v. Thomas, 70 Ohio St.2d 79, 79-80 (1982), State v. DeHass, 10 Ohio St.2d 230 (1967).

         Manifest Weight

         {¶9} When determining whether a conviction is against the manifest weight of the evidence, we "will not reverse a conviction where there is substantial evidence upon which the court could reasonably conclude that all the elements of an offense have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt". State v. Eskridge, 38 Ohio St.3d 56 (1988), at paragraph two of the syllabus.

         {¶10} In reviewing whether the trial court's judgment was against the weight of the evidence, the appellate court sits as the "thirteenth juror" and examines the conflicting testimony. State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 387. In taking on this role, this court, reviewing the entire record, weighs the evidence and all reasonable inferences, considers the credibility of witnesses and determines whether, in reviewing the evidence, the trial court clearly lost its way and created such a manifest miscarriage of justice that the conviction must be reversed. Id. In making this analysis, we must be mindful that determinations of credibility and weight of the testimony remain within the jurisdiction of the trier of fact. DeHass, supra, paragraph one of the syllabus.

         {¶11} When applying the manifest weight standard, "[o]nly in exceptional cases, where the evidence 'weighs heavily against the conviction', should an appellate court overturn the trial court's judgment." State v. Haller, 3d Dist. Allen No. 1-11-34, 2012-Ohio-5233, ¶9, quoting State v. Hunter, 131 Ohio St.3d 67, 2011-Ohio-6524, ¶119. "Weight of the evidence concerns 'the inclination of the greater amount of credible evidence, offered in a trial, to support one side of the issue rather than the other. It indicates clearly to the jury that the party having the burden of proof will be entitled to their verdict, if, on weighing the evidence in their minds, they shall find the greater amount of credible evidence sustains the issue which is to be established before them. Weight is not a question of mathematics, but depends on its effect in inducing belief.' " (Emphasis omitted.) Thompkins, quoting Black's Law Dictionary 1594 (6th Ed.1990).

         Analysis

         {¶12} In this case, Atkins was indicted for Robbery in violation of R.C. 2911.02(A)(3) which reads:

(A) No person, in attempting or committing a theft offense or in fleeing immediately after the attempt or offense, shall do ...

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