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State v. Vargas

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

December 21, 2017

STATE OF OHIO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
JULIO C. VARGAS DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

         Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-14-584296-A

          FOR APPELLANT Julio C. Vargas, pro se.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor By: Frank Romeo Zeleznikar Assistant County Prosecutor.

          BEFORE: Blackmon, J., Kilbane, P.J., and S. Gallagher, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          PATRICIA ANN BLACKMON, JUDGE.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Julio C. Vargas ("Vargas") appeals from his re-sentencing, following a remand from this court. Vargas assigns the following error for our review:

Trial court committed prejudice error when the court failed to find the statutory requirement under R.C. 2929.14(C)(4)(b) whether the sentence imposed for count 1 and 3 also 7-9 are dissimilar offenses R.C. 2941.25(B) at the sentencing hearing was contrary to law violation of defendant United States Constitutional Rights Amendment, 5, 6, and 14 Multiple Punishment. [Sic]

         {¶2} Having reviewed the record and pertinent law, we affirm the deision of the trial court. The apposite facts follow.

         {¶3} Vargas was indicted in a nine-count indictment in connection with a wrong-way collision on Interstate 480 on April 5, 2014. In Counts 1 and 2, Vargas was charged with aggravated vehicular homicide in connection with the death of Desiree Snyder. In Counts 3 and 4, he was charged with aggravated vehicular assault in connection with injuries to Antonio Rodriguez, and Counts 5 and 6 charged him with aggravated vehicular assault as to other drivers. Counts 7-9 charged him with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol under three separate provisions of R.C. 4511.19(A)(1). On June 26, 2014, Vargas pled no contest to all charges. The trial court merged Counts 1 and 2, and Counts 3 and 4. Vargas was subsequently sentenced to nine years in prison for Count 1 (aggravated vehicular homicide as to Snyder), six years for Count 3 (aggravated vehicular assault as to Rodriguez), and ordered them to be served consecutively for a total of 15 years. The trial court also imposed two-years concurrent sentences for Counts 5 and 6, (aggravated vehicular assaults), and six-months concurrent sentences for Counts 7, 8, and 9 (driving under the influence), all to be served concurrently to the consecutive sentences in Counts 1 and 3. See State v. Vargas, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 101796, 2015-Ohio-2856 (" Vargas I ").

         {¶4} Vargas appealed his sentence to this court. Id. He argued that the trial court erred when it failed to merge the aggravated vehicular homicide of Snyder with the aggravated vehicular assault of Rodriguez, and that the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentences. This court concluded that because the matter involved two separate victims with separate harms, one fatal and the other involving near life threatening injuries, the trial court did not err when it declined to merge Counts 1 and 3. Id. at ¶ 9. However, this court concluded that the trial court failed to make the specific finding that the sentences are "not disproportionate to the seriousness of the offender's conduct and to the danger the offender poses to the public." Therefore, this court issued the following limited remand:

[W]e vacate Vargas's sentence and remand to the trial court for the limited purpose of considering whether consecutive sentences are appropriate under R.C. 2929.14(C)(4), and to make the necessary findings. See State v. Nia, 2014-Ohio-2527, 15 N.E.3d 892, ¶ 28 (8th Dist).

Id. at ¶ 16.

         {¶5} On March 22, 2017, the trial court held a resentencing hearing. The court stated on the record as follows:

Based upon that, and upon this Court's finding, I will repeat the first part, that the - Mr. Vargas, your actions that night were both serious for the victims and for other potential victims, that nothing less than consecutive sentences would punish you adequately protect society from further ...

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