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State v. McClenton

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Ashtabula

October 30, 2017

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
GREGORY L. MCCLENTON, Defendant-Appellant.

         Criminal Appeal from the Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2016 CR 00653. Judgment: Reversed and remanded.

          Nicholas A. Iarocci, Ashtabula County Prosecutor, and Shelley M. Pratt, Assistant Prosecutor, (For Plaintiff-Appellee).

          Patricia J. Smith, (For Defendant-Appellant).


          THOMAS R. WRIGHT, J.

         {¶1} Appellant, Gregory L. McClenton, appeals the imposition of a consecutive sentence with an unrelated case following his conviction for assault. As the trial court failed to make necessary findings for consecutive sentences, we reverse and remand for resentencing.

         {¶2} In 2015, appellant was convicted of resisting arrest and failure to comply with a police officer's signal in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. Initially, he was placed on community control. After being found guilty of violating the terms of community control, he was sentenced to a three-year prison term.

         {¶3} While incarcerated in the Lake Erie Correctional Institution, appellant exited his housing unit without permission. A corrections officer was dispatched to find him. After locating appellant at a recreational facility, the officer coaxed him to return to the housing unit. But, as they were walking toward the unit, appellant was disrespectful to the officer and would not follow his directives. Accordingly, before taking appellant to the officer's station in the unit, the officer conducted a pat-down search.

         {¶4} Appellant was ordered to stand still with his hands on a wall. As the officer began the search, appellant tried to turn around and face him, but the officer was able to regain control by placing his hand on appellant's back. When the officer tried to resume the search, appellant removed his hands from the wall, made a fist with his right hand, and threw a punch. The officer easily blocked the punch and pinned appellant against the wall. Appellant was now facing the officer and grabbed the officer in the face/throat area. Since the seriousness of the situation had escalated, a second corrections officer immediately sprayed a substance in appellant's face, causing him to release his hold on the first officer.

         {¶5} Appellant was indicted on one count of assault, a third-degree felony pursuant to R.C. 2903.13(A) & (C)(3). Ultimately, appellant pleaded guilty to assault. In exchange, the state recommended that his sentence be limited to twenty-four months.

         {¶6} The case immediately proceeded to sentencing. In directly addressing the trial court, appellant said that he was confused during the entire episode leading to the assault, and that he made a good faith effort to comply with the officer's orders. His trial counsel also asserted that appellant is an Iraqi War veteran who possibly suffers from PTSD, and has previously been diagnosed with schizophrenic disorder. Counsel also noted that, although appellant received medication for his schizophrenia while he was an inmate at the Richland Correctional Institution, he had not received any treatment at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution. The state responded that appellant has been convicted of five criminal offenses between 2009 and 2015, and that he has a history of refusing to comply with orders of police officers.

         {¶7} At the close of the hearing, the trial court accepted the state's sentencing recommendation and ordered appellant to serve a twenty-four month prison term consecutive to the three-year term stemming from the Cuyahoga County case. Appellant timely appeals raising one assignment of error:

         {¶8} "The trial court erred by sentencing the appellant to serve consecutive sentences without submitting adequate reasons in support pursuant to R.C. 2929.14(C) and specifically considering inaccurate factors."

         {¶9} In contesting the imposition of consecutive sentences, appellant primarily argues that the trial court failed to give adequate weight to certain facts tending to show that the nature of his conduct was not so serious as to justify consecutive terms. However, it is unnecessary to address appellant's specific arguments because the trial court's failure to make a required statutory finding for imposition of consecutive prison terms warrants reversal.

         {¶10} As assault is not one of the six crimes governed by R.C. 2929.14(C)(2), the parties do not ...

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