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State v. Ford

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Summit

December 29, 2017

STATE OF OHIO Appellee
v.
DEMETRIUS FORD Appellant

         APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. CR 16 08 2511

          MICHAEL J. GOEBL, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          SHERRI BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and HEAVEN DIMARTINO, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          HENSAL, Presiding Judge.

         {¶1} Demetrius Ford appeals his convictions and sentence from the Summit County Court of Common Pleas. We affirm.

         I.

         {¶2} This appeal involves injuries that Mr. Ford's four-month-old daughter ("Daughter") sustained while in Mr. Ford's care and the criminal convictions associated therewith. At trial, Mr. Ford testified that he and C.G. ("Mother") had a brief relationship that resulted in Mother becoming pregnant. Mr. Ford and Mother's relationship ended prior to Daughter's birth, and Mr. Ford admitted that he only saw Daughter "like every blue moon * * * [and] not that much."

         {¶3} During a visit to Mother's apartment, Mr. Ford gave Daughter two baths. The first bath did not result in injuries to Daughter, but Mr. Ford noticed that the bath water suddenly became hot when Mother flushed the toilet. Later that evening, Mr. Ford woke up from a nap and decided to change Daughter's diaper prior to catching a bus home. Mr. Ford then asked Mother to give Daughter a bath and became frustrated and annoyed when she did not do it. He, therefore, decided to bathe Daughter himself. Mother was not in the bathroom while Mr. Ford bathed Daughter.

         {¶4} According to Mr. Ford, he placed Daughter in a mesh baby seat in the bath tub and used the detachable shower head to wash her. He noticed that the water started to steam, so he immediately turned it off and left the bathroom to find a towel. Upon finding a blanket, he returned to the bathroom and saw that Daughter's skin was peeling. He then picked her up, wrapped her in the blanket, used Mother's phone to call 911, and then gave Mother the phone back so that she could speak to the operator. He then placed Daughter on the couch. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Ford heard a "thud" and saw that Daughter had fallen off of the couch. He picked Daughter up, told her to "quit moving[, ]" and waited for EMS to arrive. EMS transported Daughter to the hospital where she received treatment for burns to her face, neck, and shoulders, as well as fractures to her ribs and skull.

         {¶5} A Grand Jury indicted Mr. Ford on two counts of felonious assault in violation of Revised Code Section 2903.11(A)(1), two counts of endangering children in violation of Sections 2919.22(B)(2), 2919.22(B)(1), respectively, and two counts of endangering children in violation of Section 2919.22(A). The Court later dismissed the two counts of endangering children under Section 2919.22(A). Mr. Ford pleaded not guilty, and the case proceeded to a jury trial.

         {¶6} At trial, two doctors testified that Daughter's burns were consistent with an immersion burn, meaning that Daughter must have been dunked face first into scalding water. They reached this conclusion after noting the sharp line of demarcation on her body (i.e., from burned to not burned), and the absence of burns from splash marks, which they would have expected to see if Mr. Ford had been using the shower head to bathe Daughter. One doctor testified that Daughter's burns were not medically possible according to Mr. Ford's version of the events, and the other doctor opined that Daughter's injuries were not consistent with an accidental burn.

         {¶7} Regarding the rib fractures, the doctors testified that this type of injury is consistent with abuse, and is "extraordinarily rare" otherwise. The doctors disagreed, however as to when the rib fractures could have occurred; one opined that they occurred within 12 hours or less by the time Daughter was medically evaluated, and the other opined that they could have been up to 10 days old. Both doctors opined that the skull fracture resulted from some sort of impact to Daughter's head.

         {¶8} The jury ultimately found Mr. Ford guilty of one count of felonious assault relative to the burn injuries Daughter sustained, and two counts of endangering children, one of which related to the burn injuries, the other of which related to the rib and skull injuries. The jury found Mr. Ford not guilty of felonious assault with respect to the rib and skull injuries. The trial court determined that the endangering-children counts merged with the felonious-assault count for purposes of sentencing and sentenced Mr. Ford to eight years of incarceration. He now ...


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