Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Ashtabula
Appeal from the Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas. Case
No. 2014 CR 00361.
Nicholas A. Iarocci, Ashtabula County Prosecutor, Shelley M.
Pratt, Assistant Prosecutor, West Jefferson Street,
Jefferson, (For Plaintiff-Appellee).
Rein, (For Defendant-Appellant).
TIMOTHY P. CANNON, J.
Appellant, Marque Daquan Brown, appeals from the entry of
sentence issued by the Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas
on February 26, 2016, sentencing appellant to 22 years in
prison on two counts of involuntary manslaughter. The trial
court's judgment is affirmed in part and reversed in part
for the reasons stated below.
of Facts and Procedural History
This case stems from an altercation that occurred between
appellant and his girlfriend, Taisha Ramirez, on or about May
25, 2014. On that date, appellant and Taisha were 20 and 17
years old, respectively. Taisha was approximately seven or
eight months pregnant with appellant's son. They resided
together at the home of Taisha's mother, Marilyn Cedeno;
Taisha's brothers, Jose Luis Ramirez, Andre Luiz Ramirez,
Ismal Ruiz, and Kenny Gonzalez; and Taisha's 13-year old
The following is a summary of the testimony presented at
Taisha and J.R. went to bed in the same room around 10:00
p.m.; appellant was not home at the time. Around 3:00 a.m.,
the sisters were awoken by appellant knocking on the door;
Taisha let him in the house. Appellant and Taisha went
upstairs to the room they shared on the third floor; J.R.
followed and remained on the stairs where she could see them.
The couple then went to the mother's bedroom on the
second floor; J.R. followed and stood in the doorway while
the couple argued for about 20 minutes. The couple moved to
the bathroom and closed the door for about 10 minutes.
J.R. opened the bathroom door when she heard Taisha screaming
and crying. J.R. heard Taisha tell appellant not to punch her
and observed Taisha on the ground, bleeding from her nose.
J.R. saw appellant punch Taisha in the face with a closed
fist three or four times. J.R. unsuccessfully attempted to
get appellant away from Taisha. J.R. observed blood on the
floor of the bathroom, and Taisha's nose appeared to be
broken and her lips were cut.
Ismal and Kenny heard their mother and J.R. screaming, and
they entered the bathroom. Kenny and Ismal observed Taisha
sitting on the floor, bleeding from her nose, and crying; her
nose and mouth were swollen. Kenny observed blood on the
floor, in the sink, and on the toilet. Ismal observed blood
on the carpet, walls, floor, and toilet, in addition to the
towels Taisha was holding to her nose to stop the bleeding.
Ismal testified Taisha's nose and lips were swollen.
Photographs of the blood in the bathroom and on the towels,
and of the injuries to Taisha's face, were submitted as
exhibits to the jury.
Kenny took appellant to the shower and punched him in the
face; Ismal also hit appellant with his fist. The brothers
took appellant downstairs; appellant was yelling that he was
sorry and asking Taisha to forgive him. Ismal called the
police. A recording of the call was played for the jury. J.R.
testified she had to help Taisha downstairs because she was
unable to walk on her own. By the time they made it
downstairs, the police had arrived.
Officer Daniel Gillespie, of the Ashtabula City Police
Department, reported to the scene with another patrolman, at
which time he heard yelling and screaming from inside the
residence. Upon entering the residence, he observed multiple
occupants focusing their anger at appellant, who was backing
up towards the door with his hands up. Officer Gillespie
placed appellant in his patrol car and went back inside to
investigate. He then observed Taisha crying and bleeding
heavily from her nose, which was disfigured and swollen; the
towel she was holding to her face was soaked with blood. He
testified that Taisha was initially reluctant to remove the
towel from her face and talk to him, but that she eventually
told him appellant had hit her while they were arguing.
Officer Gillespie testified that, on the way to the station,
appellant indicated he wanted to tell the officer what
happened; therefore, Officer Gillespie advised appellant of
his Miranda rights. Officer Gillespie testified that
appellant reported arguing with Taisha, which involved a lot
of yelling and screaming, and then he left. Appellant would
not answer Officer Gillespie's question of how Taisha
became injured. Appellant was booked on a charge of domestic
J.R. stayed at Taisha's side until an ambulance arrived.
Kenny rode in the ambulance with Taisha. J.R. and Kenny
remained with Taisha at the hospital. Kenny and J.R.
testified they were only there for about half an hour, no
tests were performed, and the only treatment Taisha received
was Tylenol. Kenny indicated Taisha did not appear to be
"healthy or feeling fine" when she was discharged.
Dr. Imrann Haniff was the emergency room physician on duty
when Taisha arrived at Ashtabula County Medical Center
("ACMC") around 6:30 a.m. Dr. Haniff testified that
Taisha reported she had been assaulted and hit in the face.
He stated Taisha told him she was slapped in the face one
time; he did not observe anything that contradicted
Taisha's report of what happened. Dr. Haniff observed
that Taisha's lip was swollen, she had blood coming from
both nostrils, and she was pregnant. The nurse was able to
detect a fetal heart tone at that time, which indicated the
fetus was alive. Dr. Haniff did not find any fractures during
his examination of Taisha, and he gave her an ice pack. He
testified Taisha was in good condition when she was
discharged around 7:30 a.m.
When Taisha returned home from the hospital, Ismal observed
that she was dizzy and weak and could not make it up the
stairs to her third-floor bedroom. He helped her out of the
car and up to the second floor with the assistance of another
family member. J.R. stayed with Taisha in their mother's
bedroom. She testified that Taisha started to bleed again
from her nose, but she did not notice any injuries on
Taisha's head. At approximately 9:15 a.m., Ismal called
for another ambulance because Taisha was bleeding and foaming
from her nose, she could not talk or move, her nails were
turning blue, and she was unresponsive. A recording of the
call was played for the jury.
Dr. Haniff again treated Taisha in the emergency room, who
arrived this second time in cardiac arrest. The staff
performed CPR, and Taisha was intubated; it was difficult to
obtain a fetal heart tone. They were unable to revive Taisha.
Taisha and her unborn son both died that morning in the
Dr. Joseph Felo, Deputy Medical Examiner and Forensic
Pathologist for Cuyahoga County, performed an autopsy on
Taisha. He noted her pregnancy was in its third trimester and
observed cuts, scrapes, and bruises caused by blunt trauma to
her upper and lower lips. There were no fractures to her
skull or her nose. He observed diffuse cerebral edema, i.e.,
swelling of the brain, and a subdural hematoma, i.e.,
bleeding on the surface of the brain, caused by blunt trauma
to her head. He testified that one slap would not have caused
the injury because there were three separate impact sights.
Dr. Felo did not perform a separate autopsy on the child
because he was not born alive. He did not find any birth
defects during his external examination, however, and opined
that the unborn child would have lived had Taisha not died.
Dr. Pamela Lancaster, the Ashtabula County Coroner,
investigated Taisha's death at ACMC, reviewed the autopsy
report, and issued a death certificate. She testified that
the cause of Taisha's death, within a reasonable degree
of medical certainty, was the subdural hematoma due to blunt
impacts to the head. She ruled the manner of Taisha's
death as a homicide. Because the child was not born alive,
there was not a separate coroner's verdict or death
Detective William Felt, of the Ashtabula City Police
Department, interviewed appellant on May 27, 2014, with
Lieutenant Doug Hollis. Detective Felt testified as to his
training in detecting deception, analyzing and determining
whether a person is being truthful through physical and
nonphysical cues, and assessing the demeanor and behavior of
an interviewee. He testified that appellant did not appear
bothered by his arrest and that he seemed to lack emotion.
The interview was played for the jury, during which appellant
appeared to be crying. Detective Felt testified that there
was a lack of congruence in appellant's behavior because
he did not produce tears; in other words, appellant's
physical reaction did not match his verbal reaction. During
the interview, appellant admitted to arguing with Taisha
until he was pulled away by Ismal and Kenny. Near the end of
the interview, appellant admitted he punched Taisha.
On June 26, 2014, appellant was indicted on two counts of
murder, unclassified felonies, in violation of R.C.
2903.02(B); two counts of involuntary manslaughter,
first-degree felonies, in violation of R.C. 2903.04(A); and
two counts of felonious assault, second-degree felonies, in
violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(1). Appellant pled not guilty.
Appellee, the state of Ohio, filed a motion in limine to
preclude evidence or testimony of alleged medical negligence
as an independent intervening cause, to which appellant filed
a response in opposition. A hearing was held on the motion.
The trial court granted the state's motion, finding the
reports of appellant's expert did not establish that
Taisha's medical care was an independent intervening
cause of death as defined by law.
A jury trial commenced February 2, 2016. One count of
felonious assault, as against the unborn child, was dismissed
at the state's request following trial. The defense
renewed its request that the jury be instructed as to
intervening cause, which the trial court denied. The jury
found appellant guilty of two counts of involuntary
manslaughter and one count of felonious assault; it found him
not guilty of both counts of murder.
The trial court merged the felonious assault count into both
involuntary manslaughter counts for purposes of sentencing.
On February 26, 2016, the trial court sentenced appellant to
11 years in prison on each count of involuntary manslaughter,
to be served consecutively, for a total term of 22 years in
Appellant now raises eight assignments of error for our
[1.] The State failed to present sufficient evidence to
sustain a conviction against Appellant.
[2.] Appellant's convictions are against the manifest
weight of the evidence.
[3.] Appellant was denied a fair trial by the witness'
improper comments while testifying.
[4.] The trial court erred by granting the state's motion
in limine and by preventing Appellant to present a complete
defense which would have included the alleged medical
[5.] The trial court erred and violated Appellant's right
to a fair trial by permitting the State of Ohio to introduce
victim impact evidence.
[6.] Appellant was deprived of his fundamental right to
testify in his own defense.
[7.] The trial court erred by ordering appellant to serve a
consecutive sentence without making the appropriate findings
required by R.C. 2929.14 and HB 86.
[8.] The trial court erred by ordering convictions and a
consecutive sentence for separate counts because the trial
court failed to make a proper determination as to whether
those offenses are allied offenses pursuant to R.C. 2941.25
and they are part of the same transaction under R.C. 2929.14.