Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. York

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

February 16, 2018

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
JESSE L. YORK Defendant-Appellant

         Criminal Appeal from Common Pleas Court Trial Court Case No. 2014-CR-234

          MATHIAS H. HECK, JR., by MICHAEL J. SCARPELLI, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee

          HILARY LERMAN, Attorney for Defendant-Appellant


          TUCKER, J.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant Jesse York appeals from his conviction and sentence for murder. He contends that cumulative errors deprived him of a fair trial. We conclude that York has failed to establish any error, let alone cumulative error, that would affect his right to a fair trial. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         {¶ 2} This case arises from the 2013 death of R.S (hereinafter "R."). R. was born in January of 2012 to Helen Thompson and Brad Sellars. Sellars and Thompson, who were not married and not living together at the time of R.'s birth, also had an older child together. R. resided in Germantown with Thompson and the older sibling. Sellars generally exercised parenting time with the children on Wednesdays and every other weekend. In early 2013, Thompson began dating York who moved into the residence with Thompson and the children.

         {¶ 3} On October 23, 2013, Sellars exercised visitation with the children. When R. returned home, she was eating and playing normally. That night, she woke up vomiting and was disoriented. Thompson took R. to the pediatrician the next day. R. was diagnosed with a virus and sent home. R. improved that day and exhibited no further signs of illness.

         {¶ 4} Sellars also exercised parenting time on the weekend of November 9. He and his mother took the children to a restaurant on Saturday. While there, R. walked around the table and bumped her head. According to Sellars and his mother, she fussed for a few minutes, but was fine thereafter. The next day, Sellars took the children to Build-A-Bear Workshop at the mall. Sellars returned the children to Thompson that night.

         {¶ 5} The next day, November 11, 2013, R. attended daycare. She exhibited no signs of illness that day, and she acted normally that evening at home. However, after midnight, she began to vomit. She vomited approximately four times during the night. The next day, Thompson took R. to her pediatrician where she was, again, diagnosed with a viral infection. The doctor told Thompson to allow R. to rest and to give her Pedialyte to help keep her hydrated. Thompson and R. remained at home for the rest of the day. By that evening, R. was doing better; the vomiting had stopped, and she was eating, drinking and playing normally. On the morning of November 13, R. was a little sleepy, but otherwise was acting and eating normally. However, Thompson decided to keep her home from daycare.

         {¶ 6} Thompson left for work at 10:20 that morning. She left R. in York's care. No one else was in the home when Thompson left as the older sibling was at school. At noon, Thompson sent York a text message asking about R. York responded that R. was fine and that she was playing with her toys. At 1:30 p.m., York called Thompson stating that R. had become "unresponsive." Thompson immediately drove home, which took approximately five minutes. Once there, she observed York on the couch with R. in his arms. She observed that R. was breathing but unresponsive. She told York to call 911.

         {¶ 7} R. and Thompson were transported to Dayton Children's Hospital by ambulance. During the ride, Thompson noted a mark under the child's eye. At the hospital, staff determined R. to be "severely impaired from a neurologic point of view." Attending neurosurgeon, Laurence Kleiner, was called in to examine R. Kleiner noted that R. was breathing spontaneously, but was exhibiting "writhing-like activity." A CAT scan of the head and diagnostic blood tests were performed. The CAT scan revealed "significant cerebral swelling." On physical exam, Kleiner found R. could not open her eyes and could not respond or make purposeful movements. Kleiner rated R. as a "6 on the Glascow Coma Scale."[1] R. was placed on a ventilator and admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit for treatment and further testing. By 8:00 p.m. that evening, R.'s condition had deteriorated and Kleiner ordered an MRI. The test indicated that the brain swelling had increased. Kleiner conducted an examination and concluded that R. met the clinical criteria for brain death.

         {¶ 8} On Thursday morning, November 14, R., while still on life support, was examined by Dr. Lori Vavul-Roediger who is a board-certified child abuse pediatrician and the director of the Department of Child Advocacy at Dayton Children's Hospital. Vavul-Roediger observed bruising under R.'s right eye and right upper scalp. She also observed hemorrhaging in the left eye and small bruises to R.'s right ear. She noted a laceration in R.'s mouth that corresponded to a bruise on the outside of her cheek.

         {¶ 9} Ultimately, pursuant to protocol, another examination was performed to confirm that R. met the criteria for brain death. She was removed from life support and pronounced dead at 11:00 a.m. on November 15, 2013.

         {¶ 10} On August 29, 2014, York was indicted on two counts of murder, one count of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of endangering children, and one count of felonious assault. Discovery was conducted. York filed a motion to suppress. Following a hearing, the motion was denied. On March 5, 2017, the State filed a motion in limine to exclude the introduction of evidence of domestic violence between Sellars and his girlfriend.

         {¶ 11} A six-day jury trial commenced on March 7, 2017. At trial, Thompson testified that while in the waiting room of the hospital on Wednesday, November 13, she kept asking York what had happened to R. She testified that he kept responding, "I don't know." Thompson testified that York then began asking her about a text message he had received from a friend, T.J. Vickroy, concerning sexual activity involving Thompson. Thompson informed York that she did not want to discuss the matter at that time. Thompson testified that on the following morning York left the hospital to return home. At some point that day, Thompson was informed that R. was clinically brain dead. She testified that York returned to the hospital that evening and appeared to be intoxicated and not "capable of conversation." Thompson asked York's mother to take him home.

         {¶ 12} The State also presented Carlie Woodward who testified that she is a friend of Thompson's and that she runs the daycare that R. attended. She testified that R. appeared fine on November 11 while at the daycare. She further testified that she communicated with Thompson regarding R., and was informed on the evening of November 12, after the trip to the pediatrician, that R. was fine. Woodward testified that she received a video from Thompson showing R., on November 12, dancing and singing in her crib. Woodward testified that she went to Dayton Children's Hospital on Thursday morning. She testified that she spoke to York who told her that he did not know what had happened to the child. York told Woodward that he had placed R. in her crib for a nap and that when he tried to wake her later, she was unresponsive.

         {¶ 13} Dr. Kleiner testified that he observed bruising on R.'s face under her right eye, her ear, left and right scalp and on her cheek. The bruising on the cheek corresponded to a laceration found on the inside of R.'s mouth near her gum line. Kleiner testified that based upon R.'s history and injuries there was a very high likelihood that her condition was the result of abuse. He further testified that, in his opinion, R.'s injuries were sustained on the day she presented to the hospital.

         {¶ 14} Dr. Vavul-Roediger testified that she observed all of the bruising that Kleiner had described. She also observed hemorrhaging in the left eye. She testified that R. suffered significant head trauma caused by multiple impacts to her head. She testified that while she could not give a precise time of the injuries, she could state that R. would not have been able to walk, talk or eat after sustaining such injuries.

         {¶ 15} Montgomery County Deputy Coroner, Bryan Casto, M.D., testified that he performed R.'s autopsy on November 16, 2013. In addition to the injuries observed by Kleiner and Vavul-Roediger, Casto testified that he observed extensive injuries underneath R.'s scalp. Specifically, he observed bruising which extended the full thickness of the scalp and which caused staining to the skull. Casto observed a large central bruise located where the scalp sits on the top of the head. He also observed pattern injuries consisting of several half-inch circular bruises each separated by a "fairly uniform half-inch of spared skin that is not bruised." These pattern injuries were observed on the left, right and back of the scalp. Casto testified that the central bruise appeared different from the pattern injuries and that it appeared to be healing.

         {¶ 16} Casto testified that he also examined R.'s brain which showed significant swelling. He testified that he also found subarachnoid and subdural bleeding. The dura is a tough membrane found beneath the skull covering the brain. Beneath that is the arachnoid membrane which is a thinner, translucent covering of the brain.

         {¶ 17} Casto testified that he looked at microscopic samples from the bruising on the scalp. He testified that he found evidence of iron and fibrosis on the larger central bruise. Casto testified that the iron and fibrosis indicated that the large bruise was an older injury that was resolving. However, he testified that the pattern bruises were acute injuries meaning that they did not show any evidence of ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.