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State v. Caudill

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Madison

February 12, 2018

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
SCOTT A. CAUDILL, Defendant-Appellant.

         CRIMINAL APPEAL FROM MADISON COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No. CRI 20160158

          Stephen J. Pronai, Madison County Prosecuting Attorney, Rachel M. Price, for plaintiff-appellee

          Stephen P. Hardwick, Assistant Ohio Public Defender, for defendant-appellant

          OPINION

          PIPER, J.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Scott Caudill, appeals his convictions in the Madison County Court of Common Pleas for illegal manufacturing and possession of drugs.

         {¶ 2} Madison County officials went to the home of Travis Basham to perform a welfare check on Basham's children. The officials located a methamphetamine lab, and law enforcement officers later returned to arrest Basham. Officers discovered a methamphetamine lab in the shed on Basham's property, just outside his house. Officers found glass beakers, plastic funnels, coffee filters, bottles with tubing, white powder on a glass plate, plastic mixing bottles, and a glass container with 23 grams of dissolved methamphetamine.

         {¶ 3} Basham told officers that Caudill was a frequent visitor to Basham's house and that Caudill participated in manufacturing methamphetamine and using the drugs they created. Officers ran Caudill and his wife's information through a national database and learned that the two frequently purchased pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in making methamphetamine, on multiple occasions. Officers later determined that Caudill's fingerprints were located on the equipment used to manufacture the methamphetamine found in Basham's shed. Officers arrested Caudill, and the state charged him with illegal manufacture of drugs, illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs, and aggravated possession of drugs.

         {¶ 4} Caudill pled not guilty, and the matter proceeded to a two-day trial. The jury found Caudill guilty on each count. During sentencing, the trial court merged the manufacturing charge into the possession conviction and sentenced Caudill to an aggregate sentence of five years in prison. The trial court ordered Caudill to pay a fine over objection. Caudill now appeals his convictions and sentence, raising the following assignments of error.

         {¶ 5} Assignment of Error No. 1:

         {¶ 6} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY ENTERING A JUDGMENT OF CONVICTION ON COUNT III, AGGRAVATED DRUG POSSESSION WHEN THE EVIDENCE WAS INSUFFICIENT TO SUSTAIN THE CONVICTION AND WHEN THE CONVICTION WAS AGAINST THE MANIFEST WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE.

         {¶ 7} Caudill argues in his first assignment of error that his convictions were not supported by sufficient evidence and were against the manifest weight of the evidence.

         {¶ 8} Whether the evidence presented at trial is legally sufficient to sustain a verdict is a question of law. State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 386 (1997). When reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence underlying a criminal conviction, an appellate court examines the evidence in order to determine whether such evidence, if believed, would convince the average mind of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Paul, 12th Dist. Fayette No. CA2011-10-026, 2012-Ohio-3205, ¶ 9. Therefore, "[t]he relevant inquiry is whether, after viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Jenks, 61 Ohio St.3d 259 (1991), paragraph two of the syllabus.

         {¶ 9} A manifest weight of the evidence challenge examines the "inclination of the greater amount of credible evidence, offered at a trial, to support one side of the issue rather than the other." State v. Barnett, 12th Dist. Butler No. CA2011-09-177, 2012-Ohio-2372, ¶ 14. To determine whether a conviction is against the manifest weight of the evidence, the reviewing court must look at the entire record, weigh the evidence and all reasonable inferences, consider the credibility of the witnesses, and determine whether in resolving conflicts in the evidence, the trier of fact clearly lost its way and created such a manifest miscarriage of justice that the conviction must be reversed and a new trial ordered. State v. Graham, 12th Dist. Warren No. CA2008-07-095, 2009-Ohio-2814, ¶ 66.

         {¶ 10} In reviewing the evidence, an appellate court must be mindful that the jury, as the original trier of fact, was in the best position to judge the credibility of witnesses and determine the weight to be given to the evidence. State v. Blankenburg,197 Ohio App.3d 201, 2012-Ohio-1289, ¶ 114 (12th Dist.). Therefore, an appellate court will overturn a conviction due to the manifest weight of the evidence "only in the exceptional case in which the evidence weighs heavily against the conviction." Id. Although the legal concepts of sufficiency of the evidence and weight of the evidence are quantitatively and qualitatively different, "[a] determination that a conviction is supported by ...


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