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State v. Leonard

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

November 3, 2017

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
THOMAS E. LEONARD Defendant-Appellant

         Criminal Appeal from Common Pleas Court T.C. NO. 16-CR-1078

          HEATHER N. JANS, Atty. Reg. No. 0084470, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          MATTHEW C. SCHULTZ, Atty. Reg. No. 0080142 and DOUGLAS D. BRANNON, Atty. Reg. No. 0021657, Attorneys for Defendant-Appellant.


          FROELICH, J.

         {¶ 1} Thomas E. Leonard pled guilty in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas to one count of aggravated vehicular homicide, a felony of the third degree. The trial court sentenced him to 48 months in prison and suspended his driver's license for 10 years; the court did not fine Leonard or order restitution or court costs. Leonard appeals from his conviction, claiming that his trial attorney provided ineffective assistance. For the following reasons, the trial court's judgment will be affirmed.

         I. Background and Procedural History

         {¶ 2} According to the presentence investigation report (PSI), around 7:20 a.m. on August 26, 2015, Leonard drove his Ford F-350 southbound on Interstate 75 in Montgomery County. Witnesses saw Leonard weaving in and out of traffic, driving at a high rate of speed, and causing several near-crashes. As Leonard proceeded down the highway, "he swiped another vehicle, causing the right-side mirror of that vehicle to be destroyed." Leonard continued from that crash without stopping.

         {¶ 3} Near the exit for Ohio State Route 725, Leonard attempted to pass a vehicle that was driving in the right-hand lane. While attempting to pass the vehicle, Leonard drove on the right shoulder and collided with a 2003 Audi that was pulled over to the side of the highway, with its hazard lights illuminated. Witnesses noted that no brake lights were initiated on Leonard's truck. Mitchell Munoz, the driver of the Audi, was inside his vehicle, waiting for roadside assistance for a flat tire.

         {¶ 4} The PSI further stated: "Upon impact, Mr. Leonard's vehicle suffered heavy damage to the right front corner and then overturned[, ] sliding for an extended distance on the roof. The 2003 Audi was noted as being demolished[, ] as the vehicle suffered severe damage as a result of being run over and struck by Mr. Leonard's vehicle. The rear end and roof of the vehicle were separated from the car as a result of the crash." Leonard was transported to the hospital; Munoz was killed by the collision and declared dead at the scene. Blood tests at the hospital indicated the presence of cocaine and opiates in Leonard's blood.

         {¶ 5} On June 1, 2016, Leonard was indicted for aggravated vehicular homicide. On June 21, 2016, Leonard's counsel filed a motion requesting "all relevant documents related to the entire crash reconstruction report" be produced; counsel itemized 22 items that were included in the request. On June 27, 2016, Leonard's counsel requested a continuance due to the "accident reconstruction] [report]." The trial court granted a continuance until July 21, 2016. On July 19, 2016, defense counsel filed a request for discovery, pursuant to Crim.R. 16(B).

         {¶ 6} On July 29, 2016, the trial court set a final pre-trial conference for November 3, 2016, and scheduled the trial for November 14, 2016.

         {¶ 7} On November 9, 2016, Leonard pled guilty to the charged offense of aggravated vehicular homicide; the parties had no agreement as to sentencing. (Leonard faced a possible maximum penalty of 60 months in prison, a fine up to $10, 000, and a Class 2 driver's license suspension (3 years to life), plus restitution and court costs.) The trial court accepted Leonard's guilty plea, ordered a presentence investigation, and scheduled a sentencing hearing for December 16, 2016. The State subsequently filed a sentencing memorandum, detailing the circumstances of the collision and requesting a maximum sentence. Defense counsel sent a letter to the presentence investigator, advocating for "community control with a commitment to a lengthy drug treatment program." Counsel's letter is part of the PSI.

         {¶ 8} At the sentencing hearing, the trial court heard from members of Munoz's family, defense counsel, and Leonard, and it indicated that it had reviewed the presentence investigation report and the State's sentencing memorandum. As stated above, the trial court imposed 48 months in prison and suspended Leonard's driver's license for 10 years. Leonard appeals.

         II. Ineffective ...

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