Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Auglaize
from Auglaize County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No.
F. Hearn, Jr. for Appellant.
Andrew Augsburger for Appellee.
Defendant-appellant Stephen C. Witt ("Witt")
appeals the judgment of the Auglaize County Court of Common
Pleas, alleging that the trial court abused its discretion in
ordering Witt to serve the maximum sentence allowed under the
law for the crime of fleeing the scene of an accident that
resulted in serious injury. For the reasons set forth below,
the judgment of the lower court is affirmed.
and Procedural History
On June 25, 2016, Witt was charged with an OVI violation in
Miami County, Ohio. Sentencing Tr. 5. Witt was arraigned on
this charge on June 27, 2016 and was released on his own
recognizance. Id. While Witt was out on bond on the
Miami County OVI charge, he was involved in a motor vehicle
accident on July 2, 2016 in Auglaize County, Ohio. Doc. 1. In
this incident, Witt, while driving his vehicle, struck a
parked minivan and two pedestrians standing outside of the
minivan. Plea Change Hearing Tr. 23. Both pedestrians
suffered injuries. Id. Witt fled the scene of the
accident prior to the arrival of law enforcement.
Id. This incident in Auglaize County is the subject
of this case. Roughly an hour after this accident, on July 2,
2016, the Lima Police came upon Witt in Allen County, Ohio.
Ex. A. Witt was sitting in his vehicle, which was parked at a
green light at an intersection. Id. The police
determined that Witt was operating a vehicle while impaired
and cited him accordingly. Id. This citation is the
basis of a separate case in Allen County that was ongoing at
the time of the present case from Auglaize County. Plea
Change Hearing Tr. at 24.
Three days after the accident in Auglaize County, on July 5,
2016, Witt was involved in another accident in Delaware
County. Sentencing Tr. 6. This accident gave rise to yet
another OVI charge against Witt in Delaware County.
Id. Ex. A. Witt suffered serious injuries in the
Delaware County accident, was hospitalized, and sent to a
nursing home in the Dayton area for recovery. Sentencing Tr.
12-13. On September 29, 2016, while Witt was still in the
nursing home, he was indicted in Auglaize County on two
counts of fleeing the scene of an accident that resulted in
serious physical harm in violation of R.C. 4549.02(A). Doc.
1. See R.C. 4549.02(B)(2)(a). On the same date, an
arrest warrant for Witt was also issued in Auglaize County.
Doc. 6. In October of 2016, Witt was involved in an
altercation at the nursing home, which led the nursing home
staff to call the police. Sentencing Tr. at 12-13. After the
police officers arrived at the nursing home, they discovered
the arrest warrant for Witt that had previously been issued
from Auglaize County. Id. The police then arrested
On January 6, 2017, Witt accepted a plea agreement in which
the second charge filed against him would be dropped and in
which he would plead guilty to one count of fleeing the scene
of an accident. Doc. 30. On January 6, 2017, the trial court
accepted Witt's guilty plea but delayed sentencing until
a presentence investigation could be conducted. Doc. 31.
During the presentence investigation ("PSI"), Witt
told the PSI writer that he had no intention of following any
orders given to him by the trial court if he were placed on
community control. Sentencing Tr. 4-5.
On March 8, 2017, the trial court held Witt's sentencing
hearing. Id. at 1. Defense counsel argued that the
four and a half months that Witt spent in jail prior to this
hearing was sufficient punishment, that no further prison
term was necessary for this offense, and that Witt should
merely be placed on community control. Id. at 9. The
prosecution argued that Witt should serve more jail time.
Id. at 4. The prosecutor pointed to the comments
that Witt made during the PSI and argued, on the basis of
Witt's own statements, that community control was
insufficient to address Witt's conduct. Id. at
The prosecutor also referenced the three outstanding warrants
for Witt's arrest that had been issued from Miami County,
Allen County, and Delaware County over Witt's OVI charges
in each of those counties. Id. at 5-7. The trial
court discussed these charges, considering the fact that all
of these incidents occurred within a very short time frame.
Id. at 6. The prosecutor stated that further action
on these three charges had not been taken since the
proceedings began against Witt in Auglaize County.
Id. at 5. The trial court also noted that the
accident in Auglaize County occurred while Witt was out on
bond for the Miami County charge and that Witt did not appear
for his arraignment or a pretrial conference on his Delaware
County OVI charge. Id. . at 7.
Towards the end of the hearing, the trial court read from a
report from the nursing home where Witt was recovering from
his injuries received in the Delaware County crash.
Id. at 12-13. The report read, in its relevant part,
He [Witt] used racially charged language, derogatory
remarks, cursing and often yelling at staff and other
residents. * * * After his behavior continued after repeated
warnings, Doctor Patel discharged the offender for almost
daily verbal abuse and leaving the facility when he became
angry, refusing the follow the rules. When he was told he was
being discharged, he began hitting objects with rage and the
Administrator called Centerville police again to escort him
from the facility. When police arrived, his warrant for
Auglaize County surfaced and he was arrested * * *.
Id. After going through the history of this case,
the trial court gave Witt the maximum sentence of one year in
prison in addition to post-release control. Doc. 40. Witt
filed notice ...