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State v. Horton

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Wayne

December 18, 2017



          APPEARANCES: TODD E. CHEEK, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          DANIEL R. LUTZ, Prosecuting Attorney, and ANDREA D. UHLER, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.



         {¶1} Defendant-Appellant Delbert Horton appeals from the judgment of the Wayne County Municipal Court. This Court affirms.


         {¶2} In January 2016, a complaint was filed against Horton alleging that he committed domestic violence by causing or attempting to cause physical harm to his wife in violation of RC. 2919.25(A).

         {¶3} The matter proceeded to a jury trial at which both Horton and his wife testified. Horton's wife testified that on January 3, 2016, in the evening, Horton came home, grabbed a water bottle from her, and accused her of drinking alcohol. The bottle did have vodka in it, and Horton's wife acknowledged that she had an alcohol problem. Horton was very angry and yelled at their children, who were playing nearby, to go to their rooms. The Horton's adopted daughter testified that, while she did not see anything that happened, she heard Horton yelling, but did not hear her mother, Horton's wife, yelling.

         {¶4} Horton continued to yell and push his wife. Hortons' wife got up and started moving towards the stairs and Horton continued to yell at her and push her. According to Horton's wife, she "kind of stumbled" down the first set of stairs to a landing in an attempt to get away from him. They continued arguing and Horton pushed her down the second set of stairs and she landed on her back at the bottom of the stairs. Horton "stood over top of [his wife] and continued to yell at [her] and kick and punch and step on [her]." He stepped on her legs and side. She did not quite remember getting up but remembered going into the garage and Horton following her. Horton continued berating her and she could not figure out how to get him to stop, so she grabbed some nearby firewood and started throwing it at him. She did not think she hit him. She also grabbed a bed post and swung it at him. She did not think she made contact but Horton claimed that she did. Horton then opened the garage door, got into his vehicle, and left. Horton's wife denied hitting or pushing Horton and instead maintained that she was only trying to get away from him. Horton's wife had cuts along her arms and bruises on her legs and side. Photographs were submitted into evidence demonstrating her injuries. Horton's wife identified blood on the walls in some of the photographs as being her own blood.

         {¶5} Ten to fifteen minutes after the assault, Horton's wife's daughter N.W. arrived at the house to visit her mother. Horton's wife was still crying. She told N.W. that Horton "beat the crap out of [her]." N.W. called 911. Deputy Adam Bupp[1] of the Wayne County Sheriffs Office responded to the call. Deputy Bupp testified that Horton's wife was visibly shaking and crying when he arrived on the scene. He immediately noticed the blood on her arms. Horton's wife reported being in pain all over and that she was sore. Deputy Bupp opined that Horton's wife had a slight odor of alcohol about her but did not appear to be impaired. Horton's wife told Deputy Bupp that Horton had injured her during a physical altercation. Deputy Bupp stated that, in his experience, Horton's wife's injuries looked like she was grabbed by her arms or hit. Deputy Bupp took photographs of Horton's wife's injuries and the home. He testified that the blood on the wall appeared to be fresh.

         {¶6} Deputy Bupp located Horton at his mother's house in Canton and arrested him. Horton seemed relaxed and did not appear to have any injuries, nor did he complain of any. Deputy Bupp averred that, in his experience, individuals whom claim self-defense tend to stay at the scene and report what happened.

         {¶7} Horton testified in his own defense, relaying a much different version of events. Horton admitted to pushing his wife to the ground three times, but denied kicking, punching, or scratching her. Horton indicated that, on that day, he came up from the basement and observed his wife on the couch with a 12 ounce water bottle in her hand. Her eyes were closed. Horton told the children to go to their rooms so they would not witness any arguing. Horton grabbed the bottle from her and smelled it. It smelled like vodka and there was only approximately an ounce left in it. When Horton grabbed the bottle, Horton's wife jumped up, took a swing at Horton's head and hit him. Horton pushed her back onto the couch. Horton's wife got up and the couple began arguing. Horton expressed his desire to separate and his disappointment with her drinking. They both were shoving each other. Horton then attempted to go down the stairs to get his things to leave, as his bedroom was downstairs while his wife's was upstairs. Horton asserted that, at that point, he had to push his wife in order to get down the stairs because she would not let him leave and was blocking the way. While Horton was gathering his things, his wife continued to argue with him and he had to push past her to get into the garage. As he was putting his belongings in the car, his wife began throwing firewood at him. One piece landed right behind his head but did not hit him and at least one piece hit the car, leaving a dent that was photographed. Horton testified that he picked up a piece of the wood that had been thrown at him and walked over to his wife and told her that she had to stop because it was getting dangerous. She had to let him go. According to Horton, his wife then swung a bed post at him and hit him. In response, he pushed her on the side of her body with the wood he was holding and she fell to the ground in the garage.

         {¶8} After that, Horton dropped the firewood and got in the car and left. He was afraid that he would get hurt as the situation was escalating. As the garage door was closing, his wife was approaching him with two pieces of wood in her hands but she did not exit the garage. Horton testified that at no point during the incident was he trying to hurt his wife. Horton asserted that he was sore for a few days but did not notice any bruising.

         {¶9} Ultimately, the jury found Horton guilty and the trial court sentenced him. Horton has appealed, raising two ...

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