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State v. Newsome

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth District, Hocking

August 31, 2017

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JASON M. NEWSOME, Defendant-Appellant.

          Ryan Shepler, Kernen & Shepler, LLC, Logan, Ohio, for Appellant.

          Benjamin E. Fickel, Hocking County Prosecutor, Logan, Ohio, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY

          MATTHEW W. MCFARLAND, JUDGE.

         {¶1} Jason Newsome appeals from the trial court's judgment revoking his community control and imposing a prison term after it determined he had violated his community control by obstructing official business. On appeal, Appellant contends that 1) the State failed to prove obstructing official business or any other offense by a preponderance of the evidence; and 2) the trial court erred by admitting and relying upon hearsay in finding that he committed a probation violation. Because the State provided substantial evidence that Appellant obstructed official business, and because the Ohio Rules of Evidence regarding hearsay do not apply to community control revocation hearings, we cannot conclude that the trial court erred or abused its discretion in revoking Appellant's community control. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

         FACTS

         {¶2} Appellant, Jason Newsome, pled guilty to one count of trafficking in heroin, a fourth degree felony, and was sentenced to community control on April 11, 2013. A motion was filed on September 26, 2016, alleging Appellant had violated the terms of his supervision and requesting his community control be revoked, based upon the following:

"1. Condition #1: 'I will obey federal, state and local laws and ordinances, including those related to illegal drug use and registration with authorities. I will have no contact with the victim of my current offense(s).'
To wit: On or about 09/14/2016, in the vicinity of Hocking County, you caused or attempted to cause physical harm to Carol J. Francis.
To wit: On or about 09/14/2016, in the vicinity of Hocking County, you purposely delayed the performance by a public office of the public officials [sic] authorized acts."

         {¶3} A revocation hearing was held on November 29, 2016. At the beginning of the hearing, the State withdrew the first grounds stated in their motion, which alleged Appellant had caused or attempted to cause physical harm to Carol J. Francis. The State explained that Ms. Francis had refused to cooperate with them on the misdemeanor charges that were filed and that it did not have Ms. Francis available as a witness that day. The State went forward on their allegation that Appellant had obstructed official business and presented one witness, Deputy Dustin Wesselhoeft.

         {¶4} Testimony presented by Deputy Wesselhoeft indicated that on the night in question, he was dispatched to Carol Francis' residence in response to a complaint that Appellant had assaulted her, as well as numerous calls that an intoxicated individual was knocking on doors. The deputy testified that while he was conducting his investigation at the victim's residence, he observed a car quickly pull in and then out of the victim's driveway. Because he was informed by the victim and another individual there that Appellant was in the vehicle, the deputy quickly left and initiated a traffic stop of the vehicle. However, because the deputy was informed by the vehicle occupants that Appellant had been dropped off at the victim's house, he returned to her house. Upon arriving, he was informed that Appellant had briefly entered the house and the fled to the woods. Deputy Wesselhoeft eventually located Appellant in the woods and he was taken into custody without further incident.

         {¶5} Defense counsel raised several objections to the deputy's testimony, arguing it constituted hearsay evidence. The trial court, however, overruled the objections. After hearing the evidence, the trial court revoked Appellant's community control and ordered him to serve the remainder of the original term of an eighteen-month prison sentence. It is from this decision that Appellant now brings his timely appeals, setting forth two assignments of error for our review.

         ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR

         "I. THE STATE FAILED TO PROVE OBSTRUCTING OFFICIAL BUSINESS OR ANY OTHER OFFENSE BY A PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE.

         II. THE COURT ERRED BY ADMITTING AND RELYING UPON HEARSAY IN FINDING THAT MR. NEWSOME ...


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