Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Clermont
APPEAL FROM CLERMONT COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No.
2016 CR 000727.
Vincent Faris, Clermont County Prosecuting Attorney, Nicholas
Horton, for plaintiff-appellee.
Stephen Haynes, Clermont County Public Defender, Robert F.
Benintendi, for defendant-appellant
1} Defendant-appellant, Jerome Spencer, appeals his
conviction for felonious assault in the Clermont County Court
of Common Pleas. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm
2} On December 15, 2016, the Clermont County Grand
Jury returned a four-count indictment charging Spencer with
one count each of felony aggravated robbery, felonious and
misdemeanor assault, and felony robbery. The matter proceeded
to a three-day jury trial in March 2017. The trial revealed
the following facts.
3} On December 3, 2016, Spencer participated as a
driver for what he described as a "bootleg" ride
service facilitated through social media. Spencer picked up
Jadon Crawford and proceeded to drive him from a location in
Hamilton County to Crawford's grandmother's apartment
in Clermont County. Spencer and Crawford had never met
before. Crawford informed Spencer that he needed to retrieve
money from his grandmother's apartment and that he knew
someone who sells marijuana. Upon arriving at the
destination, Crawford entered his grandmother's
apartment, while Spencer waited outside in the vehicle.
Crawford and his grandmother exited the apartment and Spencer
drove the two to the grocery store and back. Crawford's
grandmother exited the vehicle and returned to her apartment,
while Crawford stayed with Spencer.
4} Instantaneous with Crawford's
grandmother's exit of the vehicle, Tiffany Peacock and
Megan Howard entered the back seat of the vehicle. Next,
Spencer and the two female passengers proceeded with a
marijuana transaction. Upon exchanging money for marijuana,
Spencer expressed displeasure with the amount of marijuana he
purchased with respect to the money he provided to the two
female passengers. Spencer asked the two female passengers to
return his money and they refused. Attempting to regain his
money, Spencer reached into the backseat to grab
Peacock's purse. Spencer told police that "once they
wasn't [sic] trying to get [sic] my money back, shit, I
just reached in the back and punched them and all that."
5} Peacock did not surrender possession of the purse
and Spencer began punching Peacock. Spencer stated he was
being as aggressive as possible to regain possession of his
money. Howard attempted to defuse the physical altercation by
grabbing Peacock. Howard successfully pulled Peacock out of
the vehicle. At this point, Peacock still possessed the
purse. Spencer told police that he "climbed through the
seat, * * * trying to punch them and * * * get the bag * *
*." This resulted in Spencer "going all the way
through the seat * * * [and] out of the car, hitting them,
and trying to fight * * *." Spencer grabbed the purse
and returned to his vehicle. Some of the purse's contents
spilled onto the ground outside the vehicle.
6} Before Spencer left the parking lot of the
apartment, Peacock reentered the vehicle and ripped the keys
out of the vehicle's ignition. In response, Spencer told
police that he "was just like, fuck it[, and] tried to
run back around [the vehicle] and fight [Peacock and Howard]
some more * * *." Spencer described the physical
altercation as "back and forth", acknowledged
punching Peacock and Howard, "scratching their
eyes", and kicking one of the female passengers in the
head, while the other tried to shield the blows with her
body. Spencer stated he "just blacked out, and [was]
just, like, what the fuck?"
7} Howard corroborated the circumstances surrounding
the physical altercation and stated Spencer knocked Peacock
to the ground and began kicking Peacock in the face. Howard
attempted to shield the blows and pleaded with Spencer to
cease, but Spencer kept attacking and kicking the girls.
Howard suffered a brain bleed and a head laceration, which
required nine staples. Peacock also suffered facial injuries.
A neighbor witnessed the portion of the physical altercation
that occurred outside of the vehicle. The neighbor described
the altercation to the police dispatcher as a male beating up
two girls, punching and kicking them in the face.
8} Spencer requested an instruction regarding
aggravated assault, an inferior charge to felonious assault.
After hearing argument from the state and Spencer, the trial
court denied Spencer's request and did not provide such
instruction in its final jury instructions. The jury returned
a verdict of guilty for the felonious and misdemeanor assault
charges and not guilty on the robbery charges. On March 8,
2017, the trial court imposed a six-year prison term for the
felonious assault conviction and a six-month prison term for
the misdemeanor assault conviction. The trial court imposed
the prison terms to run concurrently.
9} Assignment of Error No. 1:
10} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO PROVIDE THE
JURY WITH AN INSTRUCTION ON THE ...