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In re Q.W.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

October 26, 2017

IN RE: Q.W. Minor Child

         Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Juvenile Division Case No. DL 15115302

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Christopher R. Lenahan R. Brian Moriarty

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Sean Kilbane Assistant County Prosecutor

          BEFORE: Stewart, J., Kilbane, P.J., and Blackmon, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          MELODY J. STEWART, J.

         {¶1} Appellant Q.W., a minor, appeals the judgment of the juvenile court adjudicating her delinquent for committing two acts of telecommunications harassment, in violation of R.C. 2917.21(A)(3), for sending threatening text messages and making threatening phone calls - acts that would be first-degree misdemeanors if committed by an adult. The court imposed a community control sanction of six months under the supervision of the probation department. In two assignments of error, Q.W. challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and argues that her delinquency adjudications are against the manifest weight of the evidence.

         {¶2} At trial the state's evidence established the relevant background facts. The victim's minor daughter and Q.W. were involved in a romantic relationship. The victim was not happy about this relationship, and her displeasure culminated in a verbal and physical altercation with her daughter. The daughter was subsequently arrested.

         {¶3} Over the course of the next several days, the victim received a barrage of threatening text messages from a telephone number she did not recognize. These messages contained threats to both the victim's life and property. There were specific references to the manner of death the person would inflict, for example, slicing the victim's throat and bashing her head with a brick. There were also specific references to burning down the victim's house and blowing up her car.

         {¶4} In the midst of this stream of messages, and from the same phone number, the victim testified to receiving threatening phone calls. The caller threatened to burn down the victim's house and set her car on fire. The victim testified that she recognized the caller's voice as being Q.W.'s.

         {¶5} In response to the messages and calls, the victim contacted Q.W.'s father, made a police report, and sought a restraining order against Q.W. When asked why she contacted the police, the victim responded "[b]ecause it was nonstop."

         {¶6} In her first assignment of error, Q.W. challenges the state's evidence as insufficient to support the court's finding that she violated R.C. 2917.21(A)(3). She argues that the evidence did not establish a link between her and the threatening communications. We disagree.

         {¶7} This court evaluates challenges to the sufficiency and manifest weight of the evidence in delinquency adjudications under the same standards of review that apply to criminal convictions. In re C.A., 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 102675, 2015-Ohio-4768, ¶ 47. In the context of a sufficiency challenge, we review the evidence "'in a light most favorable to the prosecution, '" to determine whether "'any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt.'" In re S.H., 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 100529, 2014-Ohio-2770, ¶ 17, quoting State v. Leonard, 104 Ohio St.3d 54, 2004-Ohio-6235, 818 N.E.2d 229, ¶ 77. When evaluating such a claim, we do not consider a witness's credibility. State v. Williams, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 98528, 2013-Ohio-1181, ¶ 27. Instead, we consider whether the admitted evidence, "if believed, would convince an average mind of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Jenks, 61 Ohio St.3d 259, 573 N.E.2d 492 (1991), paragraph two of the syllabus. "In essence, sufficiency is a test of adequacy." State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 386, 678 N.E.2d 541 (1997).

         {¶8} Q.W. was adjudicated delinquent for two counts of telecommunications harassment in violation of R.C. 2917.21(A)(3), which in relevant part provides:

No person shall knowingly make or cause to be made a telecommunication, or knowingly permit a telecommunication to be made from a telecommunications device under the person's control, to another, if the caller * * * [d]uring the ...

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