Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Trumbull
Appeal from the Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas, Case
No. 2016 CR 00486. Judgment: Affirmed.
Watkins, Trumbull County Prosecutor, Ashleigh Musick,
Assistant Prosecutor, and Charles L Morrow, Assistant
Prosecutor, (For Plaintiff-Appellee).
L. Engler, Engler Law Firm, (For Defendant-Appellant).
V. GRENDELL, J.
Defendant-appellant, Jonathan M. Barnes, appeals his sentence
for Trafficking in Heroin in the Trumbull County Court of
Common Pleas. The issue to be determined in this case is
whether a trial court violates a defendant's right to due
process by commenting on the drug epidemic and drug deaths
when sentencing him for Trafficking. For the following
reasons, the judgment of the lower court is affirmed.
On September 27, 2016, Barnes was indicted by the Trumbull
County Grand Jury on one count of Trafficking in Heroin, a
felony of the first degree, in violation of R.C.
2925.03(A)(2) and (C)(6)(f), and one count of Possession of
Heroin, a felony of the first degree, in violation of R.C.
2925.11(A) and (C)(6)(e). Both counts had a firearm
specification pursuant to R.C. 2941.141, and a forfeiture
specification, as provided for in R.C. 2941.1417 and R.C.
2981.02 and .04.
A Finding on Guilty Plea to the Amended-Indictment was filed
on March 10, 2017. Barnes pled guilty to one count of
Trafficking in Heroin, as charged in the Indictment, as well
as the accompanying specifications. The State agreed to
dismiss the remaining count. The court accepted the plea and
entered a finding of guilt.
A sentencing hearing was held on April 3, 2017. Barnes
apologized and accepted responsibility for his actions. The
State recommended a five-year prison sentence. The court
noted Barnes had no prior felony convictions and stated that
"the reason you're not getting the top of the line
prison time is because your record is relatively
The court asked Barnes if he knew what the "number one
killer of people is today, " to which Barnes responded
"heroin." The court replied: "Yes. What were
you doing?, " to which Barnes responded, "selling
heroin." The court stated:
The epidemic * * * [has] been around for a long time and
every day I look in the obituary and I see people that are
too young to die, and it says they died suddenly at their
home, which means they OD'd. I see more of those than I
do shootings, die of old age. You understand what you did?
The court sentenced Barnes to a term of five years in prison
for Trafficking in Heroin and one year for the gun
specification, for a total term of six years. An Entry on
Sentence was filed on April 12, 2017, memorializing the
sentence and stating that the court had considered the
purposes and principles of felony sentencing in R.C. 2929.11
and the factors in R.C. 2929.12, as well as the record, oral
statements, and presentence investigation report.
Barnes timely appeals and raises the following assignment of
"Appellant, Jonathan M. Barnes, assigns as error that
the sentencing judge erred when he made statements during the
sentencing hearing that rendered the sentencing hearing
The standard of review for felony sentences is provided by
R.C. 2953.08(G)(2). "The court hearing an appeal [of a
felony sentence] shall review the record, including the
findings underlying the sentence or modification given by the
sentencing court." R.C. 2953.08(G)(2). "Applying
the plain language of R.C. 2953.08(G)(2), * * * an appellate
court may vacate or modify a felony sentence on appeal only
if it determines by clear and convincing evidence that the
record does not support the trial court's findings under
relevant statutes ...