from Allen County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No. CR2016
0248 Judgment Affirmed
Kenneth J. Rexford for Appellant.
E. Emerick for Appellee.
Defendant-Appellant, Dennis Wrona ("Appellant"),
brings this appeal from the Allen County Common Pleas Court,
convicting him of one count of assault and sentencing him to
two years Community Control. On appeal, Appellant asserts
that: 1) the trial court erred by depriving Appellant of his
right to trial by jury by refusing a requested instruction to
the jury as to self-defense; 2) the Appellant's jury
waiver was not made voluntarily; and 3) the Appellant's
conviction for assault was against the manifest weight of the
evidence. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the ruling
of the Allen County Court of Common Pleas.
At approximately 5 p.m. on May 29, 2016, employees working at
a Bob Evans restaurant on North Cable Road in Lima, Ohio
noticed a man "passed out" and lying face down in
the grass outside of the restaurant. (Trial, 02/27/2017 Tr.
at 28). When attending to the man, who was later identified
as Appellant, restaurant employees noted that the man was
responsive. (Id. at 29). The employees assisted
Appellant into the restaurant, gave him a glass of water, and
called 9-1-1 for assistance. (Id.). The Allen
County's Sheriffs Office (the department that received
the 9-1-1 call) contacted the Lima City Police Department,
and dispatched the Lima Allen County Paramedics
("LACP") to the scene to provide Appellant medical
assistance. (Id. at 17; 22). Jennifer Pierce
("Pierce") and Linda Bishop ("Bishop"),
were the EMTs dispatched to Bob Evans. (Id. at 59).
Upon arriving at Bob Evans, Pierce and Bishop met with the
Appellant. (Id. at 64). Appellant told the EMTs that
the person who had "passed out" in the grass had
already left the restaurant. (Id.). However, after
talking to Bob Evans employees, Pierce and Bishop determined
that the Appellant was the individual who had "passed
out" outside of the restaurant. (Id.).
Nevertheless, Appellant refused treatment, but did agree to
being "checked out" in the ambulance as long as its
doors remained opened and that he would not be transported to
the hospital. (Id. at 66). While reports differ as
to whether Appellant stepped up into or fell into the back of
the ambulance, it is not disputed that once inside the
ambulance a physical altercation occurred between the
Appellant and Pierce. (Id. at 76). As a result of
the altercation, Pierce "flew" out of the back of
the ambulance, landing on her backside. (Id. at
After being thrown from the ambulance, Pierce radioed for
police assistance, then returned to the ambulance to assist
Bishop in restraining Appellant until law enforcement
arrived. (Id. at 78). One of the responding
officers, Steven Torres ("Torres") of the Lima City
Police Department, reported that the Appellant's eyes
were bloodshot and glassy. (Id. at 156). Torres also
reported that the Appellant had an odor of alcohol coming
from his breath and appeared to have urinated on himself.
(Id.). Torres reported that based on his
observations (of Appellant) and experience, he believed
Appellant was intoxicated. (Id.). Appellant denied
being intoxicated, and no breath or blood alcohol testing was
performed by law enforcement to determine whether or not
Appellant was under the influence of alcohol. (Trial,
02/28/2017 Tr. at 186). However, Torres arrested the
Appellant for assaulting Pierce and transported him to the
Lima police station without further incident. (Trial,
02/27/2017 Tr. at 171-72).
After the altercation with the Appellant, Pierce sought
medical treatment for her injuries. (Id. at 91).
Pierce testified that as a result of being kicked out of the
back of the ambulance, she suffered severe pain in her right
hip/pelvis region. (Id. at 92). Pierce also
testified that Appellant had bit her and attempted to light
her arm hairs on fire with a lighter that Appellant had in
his shirt pocket. (Id. at 81). Pierce's injuries
were documented at trial by medical records from St.
Rita's Medical Center and photographs taken by police.
(State's Ex. Nos. 5-18).
On July 14, 2016, the Allen County Grand Jury indicted
Appellant on one count of Assault, in violation of R.C.
2903.13(A) and R.C. 2903.13(C)(5). (Doc. No. 4). Because the
victim of the assault, Pierce, was performing an emergency
medical service in the course of her official duties, the
charge against the Appellant was elevated to a felony of the
fourth degree. (Id.).
After several continuances, a jury trial was scheduled in the
trial court for February 27, 2017. (Doc. No. 24). However,
Appellant waived his right to a jury the morning of trial
after an in-chamber meeting occurred between the trial judge
and the attorneys involved in the case. (Doc. No. 56).
Appellant's jury waiver was in writing and was signed (by
Appellant) in open court and on the record. (Id.).
After the waiver was executed, a bench trial commenced.
During the bench trial, Appellant's counsel's office
faxed to the trial court a "Pretrial Statement Re: Self
Defense and Refused Medical Treatment." (Doc. No. 51).
At the conclusion of the bench trial on February 28, 2017,
the trial court found Appellant guilty of assault. (Doc. No.
57). Thereafter, Appellant was sentenced to two years of
community control on April 20, 2017. (Doc. No. 60). It is
from this judgment Appellant appeals, presenting the
following assignments of error for our review:
OF ERROR NO. I
TRIAL COURT ERRED AND DEPRIVED MR. WRONA OF HIS RIGHT TO
TRIAL BY JURY BY REFUSING A REQUESTED INSTRUCTION TO THE JURY
AS TO SELF-DEFENSE.
OF ERROR NO. II
JURY WAIVER WAS NOT VOLUNTARY.
OF ERROR NO. III
CONVICTION FOR ASSAULT WAS AGAINST THE MANIFEST WEIGHT OF THE
On appeal, Appellant asserts: 1) that the trial court erred
by depriving Appellant of his right to a trial by jury and by
refusing the requested self-defense jury instruction; 2) that
the Appellant involuntarily executed his jury waiver, and 3)
that Appellant's conviction for assault was against the
manifest weight of the evidence. For the reasons that follow,
we affirm the decision of the trial court.
First and Second Assignments of Error
As both the first and second assignments of error involve
Appellant's right to a jury trial and the voluntariness
of his jury waiver, we will discuss these assignments
"A jury waiver must be voluntary, knowing, and
intelligent." State v. Osie, 140 Ohio St.3d
131, 2014-Ohio-2966, 16 N.E.3d 588, ¶ 45 citing
State v. Ruppert, 54 Ohio St.2d 263, 271, 375 N.E.2d
1250 (1978). "Waiver may not be presumed from a silent
record." Id. citing State v. Foust,
105 Ohio St.3d 137, 2004-Ohio-7006, 823 N.E.2d 836, ¶
52. "However, if the record shows a jury waiver, the
verdict will not be set aside except on a plain showing that
the waiver was not freely and intelligently made."
Id. "Moreover, a written waiver is
presumptively voluntary, knowing, and intelligent."
Court's Conversation with Appellant Regarding Waiver
At Appellant's jury waiver hearing, the following
exchange occurred between Appellant and the trial court:
Court: Mr. Wrona, you've heard what your lawyer said
about waiving your right to a jury trial?
I did, your honor.
Court: Okay. Thank you. Now, Mr. Wrona, I want to make sure
you understand a bit of detail relating to that. First of
all, you have a constitutional ...