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State v. Adams

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Champaign

February 16, 2018

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
JANINE ADAMS Defendant-Appellant

         Criminal Appeal from Municipal Court Trial Court Case No. 2016-CRB-1004

          JARED CHAMBERLAIN, Atty. Reg. No. 0090785, Assistant Municipal Prosecutor, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee

          TRAVIS KANE, Atty. Reg. No. 0088191, Attorney for Defendant-Appellant


          WELBAUM, P.J.

          {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Janine Adams, appeals from her conviction in the Champaign County Municipal Court for domestic violence following a jury trial. In support of her appeal, Adams contends that her conviction is against the manifest weight of the evidence. For the reasons outlined below, the judgment of the trial court will be affirmed.

         Facts and Course of Proceedings

         {¶ 2} On December 29, 2016, a complaint was filed charging Adams with domestic violence in violation of R.C. 2929.25(A), a misdemeanor of the first degree. The complaint alleged that on the evening of December 28, 2016, Adams knowingly engaged in a physical altercation with her sister, Lauren Adams ("Lauren"), which caused minor injuries to Lauren's face as well as a nosebleed.

         {¶ 3} Adams pled not guilty to the domestic violence charge and the matter proceeded to a jury trial. At trial, the State called Lauren to testify regarding the altercation with her sister. Lauren testified that on the evening in question, she and her two daughters were at the home of her and Adams's mother, Michelle Adams ("Michelle"), located in Urbana, Ohio. Lauren claimed that she and her daughters had been staying with Michelle over the Christmas holiday and that she was in the midst of packing up their belongings to go back home when Adams arrived at the residence. Lauren explained that Michelle had custody over Adams's two children and that Adams came to the residence to spend time with her children.

         {¶ 4} Continuing, Lauren testified that while she was packing in the front room of the residence, two of the children came to her and said that Adams and Michelle were arguing in the kitchen. In response, Lauren testified that she went to see what was going on and overheard Adams arguing with Michelle about Adams's visitation with her children. Lauren testified that Adams was arguing loudly and that Michelle asked her to lower her voice. At that point, Lauren claimed that she chimed in and agreed that Adams should lower her voice because the children were getting scared.

         {¶ 5} Lauren testified that after she told Adams to quiet down, Adams started attacking her character and bringing up negative events from Lauren's past. As a result, Lauren claimed that she and Adams began to argue in each other's faces. In the midst of their arguing, Lauren claimed that Adams shoved her and punched her on the right side of the face and nose. Lauren then testified that Adams grabbed her hair and would not let go despite their mother, Michelle, getting in between them. Lauren testified that she tried to put her hands on Adams to defend herself, but Adams had her bent over and would not let go of her hair. As a result, Lauren testified that she grabbed a knife out of the kitchen drawer, which ultimately caused Adams to release her hair and ended the altercation.

         {¶ 6} As a result of the altercation, Lauren testified that she suffered a bloody nose, irritated eye, loss of hair, and bruises on her arms. Lauren identified photographs of her facial injuries at trial as well as photographs of her blood on the kitchen floor. Lauren also identified photographs depicting two scratches on Adams's face, which Lauren claimed Adams received during the altercation. Lauren testified that she did not start the verbal argument or initiate the physical altercation with Adams. Lauren further testified that she called 9-1-1 to report the incident.

          {¶ 7} Lauren and Adams's mother, Michelle, also testified at trial. Michelle confirmed that Lauren and Adams were at her residence on the evening in question. According to Michelle, Adams wanted to take her children to a movie that evening, but she told Adams it was too late. Michelle also advised Adams that the children would not be spending the night with Adams. In response, Michelle testified that Adams became upset and started to argue with her in the kitchen. Michelle claimed that Lauren came into the room about five minutes later and joined the argument.

         {¶ 8} Michelle testified that Adams and Lauren were getting very close to one another as they were arguing. As a result, Michelle claimed that she ran over and got in between them just before the argument turned physical. Michelle claimed that she was unable to see who threw the first blow because she was focused on trying to separate her daughters. However, Michelle confirmed that Adams grabbed Lauren by the hair and bent Lauren over as she was holding her hair. During this time, Michelle testified that she noticed Lauren was dripping blood on the kitchen floor. Upon seeing this, Michelle told Adams: "[S]he's bleeding. Let her go." Trial Trans. (Mar. 9, 2017), p. 191. Despite Michelle's repeated pleas for Adams to "let her go, " Adams refused to let go of Lauren's hair. Id.

         {¶ 9} Michelle further testified that Lauren was stumbling around trying to kick Adams, but that she never saw Lauren make physical contact with Adams. Michelle did, however, observe Lauren grab a knife from the kitchen drawer. Michelle testified that the knife had a cover on it and that Lauren eventually put the knife down after being told to do so two or ...

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