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State v. Jones

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton

February 14, 2018

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JOSEPH JONES, Defendant-Appellant.

         Criminal Appeal From: Hamilton County Municipal Court TRIAL NO. 16CRB-13505

          Paula Boggs Muething, City Solicitor, Natalia Harris, City Prosecutor, and Christopher Liu, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Plaintiff-Appellee,

          Raymond T. Faller, Hamilton County Public Defender, and David Hoffman, Assistant Public Defender, for Defendant-Appellant.

          OPINION

          Miller, Judge.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Joseph Jones was found guilty of failing to confine a dangerous dog, a fourth-degree misdemeanor, in violation of R.C. 955.22(D). In a single assignment of error, Jones now claims that his conviction was not supported by sufficient evidence and was against the manifest weight of the evidence. For the following reasons, we reverse Jones's conviction.

         Facts

         {¶2} Jones walked to his apartment building with his dog, an American Pit Bull named Prince Bane, on May 15, 2016, at about 3:30 a.m. Jones unleashed his dog during the walk so that it could interact with a stray female dog. At trial, Jones testified that the stray looked like an American Pit Bull and was almost the same color as Prince Bane, but was about half his size.

         {¶3} Alyssa Rushing, who lived in the same apartment building, also walked her dog, a Chinese Crested Hairless, that night. Rushing and her dog were on the steps to the apartment building when Jones, Prince Bane, and the stray approached. Rushing saw both dogs running at her and attempted to pick up her dog. Prince Bane attacked her, biting her hands and pulling her down.

         {¶4} Jones countered that the stray had attacked Rushing's dog and bit Rushing as she struggled to protect her dog. Jones grabbed the stray and threw it to the sidewalk below, ending the attack. Jones contended that his dog was innocent and that Rushing was confused because Prince Bane and the stray were similar in color.

         Jones's Appeal is not Moot

         {¶5} Even though Jones has already served six months of probation following the trial court's denial of his motion to stay his sentence, the appeal of his conviction is not moot. While Jones did not subsequently file a motion to stay his sentence with this court, the Ohio Supreme Court has said that such an appeal is not moot. "The completion of a sentence is not voluntary and will not moot an appeal if the circumstances surrounding it demonstrate that the appellant neither acquiesced in the judgment nor abandoned the right to appellate review, that the appellant has a substantial stake in the judgment of conviction, and that there is subject matter for the appellate court to decide." Cleveland Hts. v. Lewis, 129 Ohio St.3d 389, 2011-Ohio-2673, 953 N.E.2d 278, ¶ 26. See State v. Farris, 1st Dist. Hamilton No. C-150567, 2016-Ohio-5527, ¶ 4. While we cannot restore the time served on probation, we can reverse his conviction.

         Sufficiency of the Evidence

         {¶6} Jones asserts that his conviction was not supported by sufficient evidence and was against the manifest weight of the evidence. We will address only the sufficiency of the evidence. A conviction is supported by sufficient evidence when, after viewing all evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, a rational trier of fact could have found all of the elements of the offense proven beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Grice, 180 Ohio App.3d 700, 2009-Ohio-372, 906 N.E.2d 1203 (1st Dist.).

         {¶7} In this case, Jones was charged with, and convicted of, a violation of R.C. 955.22(D), ...


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