Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery
Appeal from Municipal Court) Trial Court Case No.
MATTHEW KORTJOHN, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee
ALLEN WILMES, Attorney for Defendant-Appellant
1} Defendant-appellant, Johniecsa Smith, appeals
from her conviction in the Dayton Municipal Court, following
a bench trial, for one count of failing to control her dogs
in violation of section 91.50(A)(5) of the Dayton Revised
Code of General Ordinances ("R.C.G.O."). In support
of her appeal, Smith contends that her conviction is against
the manifest weight of the evidence. Smith also contends that
the language in R.C.G.O. 91.50(D)(2), which sets forth an
affirmative defense to a violation of R.C.G.O. 91.50(A)(5),
is unconstitutionally vague. For the reasons outlined below,
the judgment of the trial court will be affirmed.
and Course of Proceedings
2} On May 16, 2016, Smith was charged by complaint
with one count of failing to control her dogs in violation of
R.C.G.O. 91.50(A)(5), a first-degree misdemeanor. Smith pled
not guilty to the charge and the matter proceeded to a bench
trial on December 1, 2016.
3} At trial, the State presented the testimony of
Gregory Beal, II ("Gregory"). Gregory is the adult
son of Smith's neighbors, Gregory Beal, Sr. and Tiffany
Beal, who reside at 430 Red Haw Road in Dayton, Ohio. Gregory
testified that on May 10, 2016, he was visiting his father
and stepmother's residence on Red Haw Road when Tiffany
asked him to let their three toy poodles, Snoop, Gizmo, and
Cocoa, outside to relieve themselves. Per Tiffany's
request, Gregory let the poodles outside and allowed them to
roam around the Beals' backyard unleashed while he
watched them from the Beals' garage.
4} Gregory testified that Snoop the poodle was
standing near a broken fence that separated the Beals'
property from Smith's adjacent property at 424 Red Haw
Road when Smith's two dogs, Buddy and Remy, an American
Bulldog mix and a Pitbull, began barking and growling at
Snoop. In response, Gregory called for the poodles to come
back to the house. As Snoop began to make his way toward the
Beals' garage, Gregory observed Buddy come onto the
Beals' driveway through the broken fence and
"snatch" Snoop. Trial Trans. (Dec. 1, 2016), p.
36-41. Specifically, Gregory testified that Buddy grabbed
Snoop by the neck with his mouth, shook Snoop a little, and
then took him to Smith's backyard where Snoop was later
5} In addition to Gregory's testimony, Tiffany
Beal testified that four to five minutes after she asked
Gregory to let her three poodles outside, Gregory came back
in the house and told her that "the neighbor's dog
had grabbed Snoop." Trial Trans. (Dec. 16, 2016), p. 91.
In response, Tiffany testified that she and Gregory ran
outside and attempted to call for Snoop at the broken fence,
which she claimed belonged to Smith. Tiffany testified that
Smith's two dogs, Buddy and Remy, then began to approach
her. Since she did not know whether the dogs were secured,
Tiffany testified that she decided to back up and knock on
Smith's door and ask if Snoop was in Smith's
backyard. Tiffany testified that Smith's husband, Gary
Smith, eventually came to the door and looked for Snoop in
his backyard. Tiffany testified that when Gary returned, he
advised her that Snoop was dead.
6} Tiffany and Gregory both testified that they
called the police to report the incident. Officer Chris Smith
of the Dayton Police Department and Officer Josh Cusick of
the Animal Resource Center arrived at the scene shortly
thereafter. Both officers testified that when they arrived at
424/430 Red Haw Road they observed the Beals' toy poodle,
Snoop, deceased in Smith's backyard. Cusick testified
that he observed puncture wounds in Snoop's neck,
abdomen, and rib cage.
7} Both officers also testified that they inspected
the leads on which Smith's dogs were attached and
determined that the leads were long enough to extend through
the broken fence and into the Beals' backyard. According
to the officers, the leads were connected to a main chain
that was wrapped around a tree in Smith's backyard.
Officer Cusick testified that he did not have to move or
untie the leads from anything or manipulate the leads in any
way to get them to extend into the Beals' property.
Similarly, Officer Smith testified that he did not have to
remove any kind of debris or unhook the leads from anything
to be able to pull them into the Beals' driveway.
8} Officer Cusick further testified that on the day
in question he took photographs of the scene, the leads upon
which Smith's two dogs were attached, and Snoop's
body. The photographs were admitted into evidence as
State's Exhibit Nos. 1-9. Both officers testified that
the photograph marked as Exhibit 9 depicts the two leads
coming through the broken fence and onto the Beals'
9} Smith and her husband Gary also testified at
trial. As part of their testimony, the Smiths did not deny
that one or both of their dogs, Buddy and Remy, caused
Snoop's death. However, as an affirmative defense, the
Smiths attempted to prove that Snoop was unlawfully on their
property and that Buddy and Remy were properly secured. To
that end, the Smiths testified that a 100 to 120-pound
plastic igloo doghouse was sitting on top of the main chain
securing Buddy and Remy's leads. According to the ...