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State v. Purk

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Summit

August 30, 2017

STATE OF OHIO Appellee
v.
SCOTT D. PURK Appellant

         APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. CR 13 12 3490

          JACQUENETTE S. CORGAN, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          SHERRI BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and HEAVEN DIMARTINO, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          DONNA J. CARR, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         {¶1} Defendant-Appellant, Scott Purk, appeals from his convictions in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas. This Court reverses and remands for further proceedings.

         I.

         {¶2} On the morning of March 18, 1985, Purk called for emergency assistance and reported that his wife, who was nine months pregnant at the time, had tried to hang herself from the railing surrounding the stairwell in their two-floor apartment. Purk greeted the police when they arrived and directed them to his wife, who was lying on her back at the foot of the stairs. Purk indicated that he had found his wife hanging, had used a knife to cut her down, and had attempted CPR before calling for assistance. The paramedics responded only minutes after his call and were able to restore the victim's heartbeat. They then transported her to a hospital where she received further treatment and her son was delivered via a cesarean birth. Despite their best efforts, both the victim and her son died. Following an autopsy, the victim's death was ruled a suicide, and the case was closed.

         {¶3} In March 2009, Sergeant Ken Mifflin began investigating a house fire that occurred at Purk's home in Stow. During his investigation, Sergeant Mifflin learned that Purk's first wife had died of an apparent suicide, but that there were individuals who found the circumstances surrounding her death suspicious. He then spent the next few years investigating her death, requesting the original police reports and interviewing various individuals. Eventually, he approached the Summit County Medical Examiner's Office to ask for an opinion. After listening to him and viewing the original autopsy photos and results, the Medical Examiner's Office agreed that it was appropriate to exhume the victim's body for the purpose of conducting a second autopsy. The second autopsy occurred in September 2011. As a result of the second autopsy, the victim's death was ruled a homicide.

         {¶4} Subsequently, a grand jury indicted Purk on one count of murder and one count of tampering with evidence. Four days before trial, Purk moved to dismiss his indictment on the basis of unconstitutional, pre-indictment delay. The court heard arguments from the parties on the first day of trial, and denied the motion. The matter then immediately proceeded to trial, following which the jury found Purk guilty on both counts. The court sentenced him to a total of 18 years to life in prison to be served consecutively with a sentence Purk was already serving in an unrelated matter.

         {¶5} Purk now appeals from his convictions and raises four assignments of error for our review. For ease of analysis, we consolidate several of the assignments of error.

         II.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR I

THE 28-YEAR DELAY BETWEEN MARGARET PURK'S DEATH AND SCOTT PURK'S INDICTMENT DEPRIVED MR. PURK OF DUE PROCESS OF LAW, AND REQUIRES REVERSAL OF HIS CONVICTIONS.

         {¶6} In his first assignment of error, Purk argues that he was denied due process when the trial court denied his motion to dismiss and allowed him to stand trial for conduct he allegedly committed 28 years before his indictment. Because the record reflects that the trial court failed to apply the correct legal standard when considering Purk's motion to ...


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