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City of Cleveland v. Reynolds

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

January 11, 2018

CITY OF CLEVELAND PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
MAURICE REYNOLDS DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

         Criminal Appeal from the Cleveland Municipal Court Case No. 2016 CRB 002994

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Kevin P. Shannon Kehoe & Associates, L.L.C.

          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

          MELODY J. STEWART, JUDGE.

         {¶1} 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.

         I. Sufficiency of the Evidence

         {¶2} 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 harm.

         {¶3} 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.

         {¶4} 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."

         {¶5} 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.

         {¶6} 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.

         {¶7} 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.

         {¶8} Additionally, Reynolds argues that the court reached its verdict by relying on facts not in evidence; namely, that Reynolds also told the victim that ...


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