Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Butler
APPEAL FROM BUTLER COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No.
Michael T. Gmoser, Butler County Prosecuting Attorney, Willa
Concannon, Government Services Center, for plaintiff-appellee
N. Blauvelt, for defendant-appellant
1} Defendant-appellant, Juan Reyes, appeals his
convictions and sentence in the Butler County Court of Common
Pleas for felonious assault and domestic violence.
2} Reyes and Carmen Lopez lived together and had
three children. On the evening in question, Reyes went to a
friend's house where he consumed alcohol. Lopez called
Reyes' friend and asked when Reyes would be home because
he had to work the next morning. Reyes' friend refused to
give information to Lopez. Lopez then informed Reyes'
friend that Reyes would be locked out of the home if he
returned too late. Lopez then locked and chained the door to
the apartment and placed a piece of furniture in front of the
3} Reyes returned home around 1:00 a.m., and was
unable to unlock the door. After Reyes knocked on the door
and received no answer, he sat outside of the apartment until
Lopez unlocked the door and removed the piece of furniture.
Once Lopez unlocked the door, she hid in a kitchen closet
because she feared repercussion for locking the door. Reyes
searched the apartment for Lopez and found her in the kitchen
closet. Reyes then dragged Lopez toward their bedroom,
pulling out part of her hair during the process. A physical
struggle then ensued between Lopez and Reyes, which caused
the children to awake and come out of their bedroom.
4} Lopez ran with the children into the bedroom and
barricaded the door. During this time, Reyes retrieved a
knife from the kitchen and used the knife when attempting to
open the bedroom door. Reyes screamed that Lopez was going to
die, and he eventually pushed the door open. Lopez and the
oldest child were able to knock the knife from Reyes'
hand, and Lopez hid the knife under the living room
furniture. Reyes followed Lopez into the living room and
began to strangle her.
5} A neighbor heard the fighting and knocked on
Reyes and Lopez's door. The neighbor's knocking
allowed Lopez to free herself from Reyes, and she and her son
ran to the door. The child told the neighbor that Reyes had a
knife and was trying to kill them. The neighbor observed
marks and injuries on both Lopez and Reyes, and ran to her
apartment to call 9-1-1.
6} Once police arrived, Lopez explained that Reyes
had bit her, punched her, and also pulled out some of her
hair before strangling her. Police then took photographs of
Lopez's injuries, as well as various places in the
apartment where there was blood. Lopez also told police that
she scratched and bit Reyes during the struggle.
7} Reyes was treated for his injuries at the
hospital, and subsequently charged with felonious assault and
domestic violence. Reyes pled not guilty, and the matter
proceeded to a three-day trial. The jury found Reyes guilty
on both counts and the trial court sentenced Reyes to five
years in prison for count one and 180 days on count two.
Reyes was ordered to serve the sentences concurrently. Reyes
now appeals his convictions and sentence, raising the
following assignments of error. We will address Reyes'
assignments of error together when appropriate and
8} Assignment of Error No. 1:
9} THE EVIDENCE WAS INSUFFICIENT TO SUPPORT A
CONVICTION FOR FELONIOUS ASSAULT IN COUNT ONE, AND THE
VERDICT ON THIS COUNT WAS CONTRARY TO THE MANIFEST WEIGHT OF
10} Assignment of Error No. 2:
11} THE EVIDENCE WAS INSUFFICIENT TO SUPPORT A
CONVICTION FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN COUNT TWO, AND THE
VERDICT ON THIS COUNT WAS CONTRARY TO THE MANIFEST WEIGHT OF
12} Reyes argues in his first and second assignments
of error that his convictions were not supported by
sufficient evidence and were against the manifest weight of
13} Whether the evidence presented at trial is
legally sufficient to sustain a verdict is a question of law.
State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 386 (1997).
When reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence underlying a
criminal conviction, an appellate court examines the evidence
in order to determine whether such evidence, if believed,
would convince the average mind of the defendant's guilt
beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Paul, 12th Dist.
Fayette No. CA2011-10-026, 2012-Ohio-3205, ¶ 9.
Therefore, "[t]he relevant inquiry is whether, after
viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the
prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the
essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable
doubt." State v. Jenks, 61 Ohio St.3d 259
(1991), paragraph two of the syllabus.
14} A manifest weight of the evidence challenge
examines the "inclination of the greater amount of
credible evidence, offered at a trial, to support one side of
the issue rather than the other." State v.
Barnett, 12th Dist. Butler No. CA2011-09-177,
2012-Ohio-2372, ¶ 14. To determine whether a conviction
is against the manifest weight of the evidence, the reviewing
court must look at the entire record, weigh the evidence and
all reasonable inferences, consider the credibility of the
witnesses, and determine whether in resolving the conflicts
in the evidence, the trier of fact clearly lost its way and
created such a manifest miscarriage of justice that the
conviction must be reversed and a new trial ordered.
State v. Graham, 12th Dist. Warren No.
CA2008-07-095, 2009-Ohio-2814, ¶ 66.
15} In reviewing the evidence, an appellate court
must be mindful that the jury, as the original trier of fact,
was in the best position to judge the credibility of
witnesses and determine the weight to be given to the
evidence. State v. Blankenburg, 197 Ohio App.3d 201,
2012-Ohio-1289, ¶ 114 (12th Dist.). Therefore, an
appellate court will overturn a conviction due to the
manifest weight of the evidence "only in the exceptional
case in which the evidence weighs heavily against the
conviction." Id. Although the legal concepts of
sufficiency of the evidence and weight of the evidence are
quantitatively and qualitatively different, "[a]
determination that a conviction is supported by the manifest
weight of the evidence will also be dispositive of the issue
of sufficiency." State v. Jones, 12th Dist.
Butler No. CA2012-03-049, 2013-Ohio-150, ¶ 19.
16} Reyes was convicted of felonious assault in
violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(2), which provides that no
person shall, "cause or attempt to cause physical harm
to another or to another's unborn by means of a deadly
weapon or dangerous ordnance." Reyes was also convicted
of domestic violence in violation of R.C. 2919.25(A), which
provides, "no person shall knowingly cause or attempt to
cause physical harm to a family or household member."
17} After reviewing the evidence, we find that
Reyes' convictions were supported by sufficient evidence
and were not against the manifest weight of the evidence. The
state presented testimony from Lopez, who explained what
happened on the night in question. Lopez testified that she
and Reyes share three children, who were nine, seven, and six
years old at the time of the trial. She and Reyes have been
in a relationship, and live together in Butler County.
18} Lopez testified that on the night in question,
Reyes left the apartment with a bottle of rum, and informed
her that he was going to visit a friend in the next apartment
building. Lopez attempted to call Reyes later that night, but
spoke with his friend instead. Lopez informed the friend that
if Reyes tried to come home in the early hours of the
morning, he would not be able to get into the apartment.
Lopez then locked the door and secured it with a chain lock.
She also pushed a piece of furniture against the door. Reyes
returned to the apartment around 1:00 a.m. and could not get
inside given the locked and barricaded door. However, Lopez
eventually moved the furniture and unlocked the door so that
Reyes could get into the apartment.
19} Lopez testified that she hid in the kitchen
closet so that Reyes could not find her because she
"knew he was going to get mad for what [she] did."
Lopez further testified that she feared for her safety, and
that Reyes began to look for her around the apartment once he
entered. When Reyes found Lopez, he grabbed her by her hair
and dragged her to their bedroom. During this time, Reyes
pulled a chunk of Lopez's hair from her scalp and threw
it down. The children awoke and came into ...