Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Appeal from the Cleveland Municipal Court Case No. 2016 CRB
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Kevin P. Shannon Kehoe &
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Barbara A. Langhenry Director of Law
City of Cleveland Kimberly Barnett-Mills Chief City
Prosecutor Bridget E. Hopp Assistant City Prosecutor
BEFORE: Stewart, J., E.T. Gallagher, P.J., and Blackmon, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
J. STEWART, JUDGE.
The court found defendant-appellant Maurice Reynolds guilty
of a first-degree misdemeanor count of aggravated menacing on
evidence that during an argument with his girlfriend about
his infidelity he threatened to "kick [her] teeth down
[her] throat." Reynolds complains that in finding him
guilty, the court improperly relied on other acts evidence to
establish the victim's belief that he would cause her
serious physical harm. He also complains that the evidence
did not establish the victim's subjective belief that he
would inflict serious physical harm upon her. We find no
error and affirm the conviction.
Sufficiency of the Evidence
Because it could potentially be dispositive, we first address
Reynolds's argument that the city failed to provide any
evidence that the victim was in fear of serious physical harm
from his threat. He maintains that the victim testified that
his statement put her in "fear, " and being in
"fear" was not enough to establish a subjective
belief that she would be subject to imminent serious physical
We review challenges to the legal sufficiency of the evidence
supporting a conviction by viewing the evidence in a light
most favorable to prosecution and determining whether any
rational trier of fact could find that the evidence
established an essential element of an offense beyond a
reasonable doubt. State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d
380, 386, 678 N.E.2d 541 (1997). Employing that standard of
review, we conclude that the city offered sufficient evidence
on each element of the offense.
The city of Cleveland charged Reynolds with aggravated
menacing under Cleveland Codified Ordinances 621.06(a). That
ordinance, which is identical to R.C. 2903.21(A), states that
"[n]o person shall knowingly cause another to believe
that the offender will cause serious physical harm to the
person or property of such other person or member of his or
her immediate family."
Reynolds does not argue that kicking a person's teeth
down that person's throat would not constitute serious
physical harm for purposes of R.C. 2901.01(A)(5) (defining
"serious physical harm" as, among other things,
"[a]ny physical harm that involves some permanent
disfigurement or that involves some temporary, serious
disfigurement."). What remains then is whether the
victim subjectively believed that Reynolds's threat would
lead to serious physical harm.
For the offense of aggravated menacing, "[i]t is
sufficient to prove that the victim, in the moment, believed
the defendant to be in earnest and capable of acting."
State v. Marcum, 7th Dist. Columbiana No. 10 CO 17,
2011-Ohio-6140, ¶ 37, citing State v. Collie,
108 Ohio App.3d 580, 582-583, 671 N.E.2d 338 (2d Dist.1996).
"Evidence of a person's belief that an offender will
cause serious physical harm can be proven with circumstantial
evidence." State v. Landrum, 1st Dist. Hamilton
No. C-150718, 2016-Ohio-5666, ¶ 9.
When asked how she reacted to Reynolds's threat to kick
her teeth down her throat, the victim testified that
"[w]ell, obviously, I was in fear." She explained
that she took this threat seriously because "[h]e's
put his hands on me before" - "[m]ore times than I
can count." A rational trier of fact could find this
evidence sufficient to establish the victim's belief that
Reynolds would cause her serious physical harm.
Additionally, Reynolds argues that the court reached its
verdict by relying on facts not in evidence; namely, that
Reynolds also told the victim that ...