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State v. Mast

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Holmes

October 27, 2017

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
ROY H. MAST Defendant-Appellant

         Criminal appeal from the Holmes County Court, Case No. 16CRB-294AB

          For Plaintiff-Appellee SEAN WARNER Holmes County Prosecutor

          For Defendant-Appellant DAVID HUNTER

          Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, P.J. Hon. W. Scott Gwin, J. Hon. William B. Hoffman, J.


          Gwin, J.

         {¶1} Appellant Roy H. Mast ["Mast"] appeals his conviction and sentence on one count of Misconduct at an Emergency after a bench trial in the Holmes County Court.

         Facts and Procedural History

         {¶2} Members of the Richland Township Fire Department responded to a fire at the Yoder farm on August 19, 2016. The fire belched out "heavy black smoke" and could be seen from a mile and a quarter away. The first to arrive at the fire was Fire Chief Melissa McCartney-Wells. Chief Wells began to assess and document the fire as she waited for the arrival of firefighting equipment. Chief Wells observed burning in the fire, tires, plastic and other trash. The heavy black smoke is indicative of such petroleum products including plastic and rubber burning.

         {¶3} The fire was burning in the farmyard near a barn and a formal manure pit structure. The area is bordered by a cement drive or "alleyway." Assistant Chief Jeff Wells arrived driving the department's grass truck with firefighter Ballantyne. He parked the truck on the cement alleyway. The grass truck's equipment includes a two hundred gallon tank of water, heavy fire hoses and a pump to force the water. Firefighter Ballantyne was assigned to "pump operator." Ballantyne's job as the truck or pump operator is important as she needs to make sure the pump stays running, and water pressure is maintained or changed if needed to fight the fire. In case something goes wrong..." she is "...kind of a safety officer." The chief and assistant chief were operating the hose.

         {¶4} The firefighters were on scene for fifteen to twenty minutes actively engaged in fire suppression. At that time, Mast drove a skid loader passed one fire truck and up the cement alleyway. The skid loader approached the back of the grass truck. Firefighter Ballantyne stepped away from her post at the back of the truck, raised her right hand, and yelled at Mast to stop. Firefighter Ballantyne was also making a stop gesture with her right hand. Mast did not stop. Firefighter Ballantyne yelled and gestures again. At this point, she had to take her attention away from her firefighters and the pumps to concentrate on Mast and the skid loader. Mast leaned out of the skid loader and yelled at the firefighter "move that piece of shit or he would move it for you." Ballantyne again told Mast to stop and leave the area. Mast began to inch the skid loader forward repeatedly stopping and going. Firefighter Ballantyne left her post, "because I thought he was going to run over me." (T. 54). Ballantyne continued to yell. Finally, Mast backed up the skid loader, lowered his bucket again and began approaching the fire truck. Ballantyne yelled at Mast, "Don't threaten me with that. I will call the law and have your ass arrested." (T. 56). Mast repeated his moves with the skid loader which caused firefighter Ballantyne to feel threatened. The encounter lasted "5 to 10 minutes." (T. 63).

         {¶5} Concerned for her firefighters' safety, Chief Wells yelled to firefighter Ballantyne to get away from the truck. The Chief then left her post on the fire hose to aide Ballantyne. As Chief Wells walked through the muck she saw "[Mast] put the (unintelligible) down and starts inching towards the fire truck and towards firefighter Ballantyne and it was a stop, go, stop, go, stop, go and he starts lifting the bucket again." (T. 82).

         {¶6} Mast is a worker on the Yoder farm. Mast admitted telling the firefighters to move "that piece of shit"; however, he denied he threatened the firefighters. Mast believed that the firefighters were upset because they had been to the Yoder farm several times to extinguish illegal burns. Mast claimed the encounter lasted no more than thirty seconds. (T. at 125). Mast admitted that he hid and did not respond when the police came to his trailer to question him about the incident.

         {¶7} Mast was charged with Misconduct at an Emergency in violation of R.C. 2917.13 and Disorderly Conduct in violation of R.C. 2917.11. The matter proceeded to a bench trial. Mast was found guilty by the court of both counts. The court found that the chargers merged as they were the result of the same conduct and Mast was sentenced on the Misconduct at an Emergency charge to 30 days in jail and a $250.00 fine.

         Assignment ...

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