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State v. Rodgers

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton

December 22, 2017

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DAVID RODGERS, Defendant-Appellant.

         Criminal Appeal From: Hamilton County Municipal Court, Trial No. 15CRB-6908

          Paula Boggs Muething, City Solicitor, Natalia Harris, City Prosecutor, and Christopher Liu, Assistant City Prosecutor, for Plaintiff-Appellee,

          Arenstein & Gallagher, William Gallagher and Elizabeth Conkin, for Defendant-Appellant.

          OPINION

          ZAYAS, JUDGE.

         {¶1} David Rodgers appeals his conviction in the Hamilton County Municipal Court for theft in violation of R.C. 2913.02(A)(1). Because the state failed to prove that Rodgers acted with purpose to deprive the owners of the property, we reverse the conviction and discharge Rodgers from further prosecution.

         Facts

         {¶2} Rodgers was charged with theft in violation of R.C. 2913.02(A)(1) for withdrawing $1, 360 from the bank account of Maxine Jeffries after her death.

         {¶3} At the bench trial, the state presented evidence from Ryan Goodman, the branch manager at the Hyde Park Key Bank, who testified that Rodgers and Jeffries had come into the bank together to give Rodgers the authority to manage Jeffries's savings account. Goodman had them sign the required documents, and Rodgers was added to the account as a power of attorney. However, Goodman testified that the account was not converted to a joint account, and Rodgers's authority ended upon Jeffries's death.

         {¶4} The state presented evidence that Jeffries had died without a will, and that her two daughters, Stacy and Marsha, were the sole heirs to the Key Bank account. Each daughter testified that she had not given Rodgers permission to withdraw any funds.

         {¶5} Rodgers testified that he and Jeffries had recently become engaged and had been in a committed relationship for the past 14 years. During that time, they lived together and shared the living expenses. After she was diagnosed with cancer, he took care of her and made sure she had her medicines, took her to treatment, and ensured she followed all of the doctor's instructions.

         {¶6} In July 2014, Jeffries was admitted to the hospital. Upon her release, she was transferred to a nursing home because she could not walk. Rodgers stayed with her every day in the hospital and nursing home. After her hospitalization, Rodgers continued to pay all the bills, including their credit card debt, by himself.

         {¶7} Rodgers testified that Jeffries had instructed him to withdraw her share of the bills from her account. Before Rodgers could withdraw the funds, Jeffries suffered a medical emergency and was transferred to a hospital where she died two days later. The following week, Rodgers withdrew the funds. He testified that he thought he was authorized to make the withdrawal because the account had been converted to a joint savings account. He also stated that he was in the process of transferring his account from Cincinnati Central Credit Union to the joint account and having his checks deposited into the joint account.

         {¶8} The trial court found him guilty because the account was not a joint account despite Rodgers's genuine belief that it was.

         Legal ...


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