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State v. Carter

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Butler

January 22, 2018

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
SHELLY CARTER, Defendant-Appellant.

          CRIMINAL APPEAL FROM BUTLER COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No. CR2016-10-1483

          Michael T. Gmoser, Butler County Prosecuting Attorney, Lina N. Alkamhawi, for plaintiff-appellee

          Tamara S. Sack, for defendant-appellant

          OPINION

          RINGLAND, J.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Shelly Carter, appeals the sentencing decision of the Butler County Court of Common Pleas. For the reasons detailed below, we affirm.

         {¶ 2} Carter was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder in violation of R.C. 2923.01(A)(1) and R.C. 2903.01, a first-degree felony. The charge was based on Carter's conduct in conspiring to hire a hitman to kill her husband.

          {¶ 3} As part of a plea agreement, Carter pled guilty to the amended lesser offense of attempted conspiracy to commit aggravated murder in violation of R.C. 2923.02, R.C. 2923.01(A)(1), and R.C. 2903.01. During the plea hearing, Carter admitted to hiring someone to kill her husband and agreed with the state's recitation of facts that "[Carter] hired Donnie Sandlin to murder her husband over a pact they withdrew - [Carter] withdrew $500 from an ATM and provided that to her with the codefendants, and the rest of the payment was due after the murder the next day."

         {¶ 4} During the sentencing hearing, Carter presented mitigating evidence and requested a lenient sentence. The trial court sentenced Carter to eight years in prison. Carter now appeals her sentence, raising the following assignment of error.

         {¶ 5} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED TO APPELLANT'S PREJUDICE BY IMPOSING A MAXIMUM PRISON SENTENCE.

         {¶ 6} In her sole assignment of error, Carter argues that her sentence is contrary to law because the purposes and principles of sentencing were not considered. We find no merit to Carter's argument.

         {¶ 7} This court reviews felony sentences pursuant to the standard of review set forth in R.C. 2953.08(G)(2) to determine whether the imposition of those sentences is clearly and convincingly contrary to law. State v. Julious, 12th Dist. Butler No. CA2015-12-224, 2016-Ohio-4822, ¶ 8. Pursuant to that statute, an appellate court may modify or vacate a sentence only if, by clear and convincing evidence, "the record does not support the trial court's findings under relevant statutes or that the sentence is otherwise contrary to law." State v. Harp, 12th Dist. Clermont No. CA2015-12-096, 2016-Ohio-4921, ¶ 7.

         {¶ 8} A sentence is not clearly and convincingly contrary to law where the trial court "considers the principles and purposes of R.C. 2929.11, as well as the factors listed in R.C. 2929.12, properly imposes postrelease control, and sentences the defendant within the permissible statutory range." State v. Ahlers, 12th Dist. Butler No. CA2015-06-100, 2016-Ohio-2890, ¶ 8. Thus, this court may "increase, reduce, or otherwise modify a sentence only when it clearly and convincingly finds that the sentence is (1) contrary to law or (2) unsupported by the record." State v. Brandenburg, 146 Ohio St.3d 221, 2016-Ohio-2970, ¶ 1.

         {¶ 9} When a defendant is sentenced, a trial court is not required to consider each sentencing factor, "but rather to exercise its discretion in determining whether the sentence satisfies the overriding purpose of Ohio's sentencing structure." State v. Stamper, 12th Dist. Butler No. CA2012-08-166, 2013-Ohio-5669, ¶ 11. The factors set forth in R.C. 2929.12 are nonexclusive, and R.C. 2929.12 explicitly permits a trial court to consider any relevant factors in imposing a sentence. Id.

         {¶ 10} After reviewing the record, we find that the trial court did not err in sentencing Carter to an eight-year prison term, as her sentence was not contrary to law and was supported by the record. As previously noted, Carter was convicted of attempted conspiracy to commit aggravated murder, a second-degree felony in violation of R.C. 2923.23, R.C. 2923.01(A)(1), and R.C. 2903.01. A second-degree felony ...


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