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State v. Chapman

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Summit

March 28, 2018

STATE OF OHIO Appellee
v.
MICHAEL CHAPMAN Appellant

          APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. CR 2016 01 0032

          JAMES L. BURDON, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          SHERRI BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and HEAVEN DIMARTINO, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          LYNNE S. CALLAHAN, Judge

         {¶1} Michael Chapman appeals from his conviction in the Summit County Common Pleas Court. This Court affirms.

         I.

         {¶2} On December 17, 2015, Mr. Chapman and his brother were at Legends Sports Pub for a holiday gathering with some of his brother's co-workers. One of the co-workers, T.C., was transgender. Towards the end of the night, Mr. Chapman was involved in a fight in the bathroom. Mr. Chapman admits that he punched the victim, G.H., during that fight. He contends, however, that he acted in self-defense.

         {¶3} Mr. Chapman testified that, when he entered the bathroom, some people were in there, including one that he recognized. He continued that, while he was using the bathroom stall, he and that individual engaged in some "banter." Mr. Chapman recalled saying something "jokingly" like "don't let the tranny come in here when I'm in here." He further testified that, when he was in the bathroom stall, a liquid was thrown over the stall wall and landed on his shoulder and thigh.

         {¶4} According to Mr. Chapman, he was unaware that T.C. had entered the bathroom until he opened the stall door. At that point, T.C. asked him if he had "something against transgenders." Mr. Chapman stated that he responded, "no, " and T.C. wanted to shake hands to show that they were "cool." He testified that he told T.C. that they were "cool, " but declined shaking his hand because Mr. Chapman needed to wash his own hands.

         {¶5} Mr. Chapman continued that, after he refused to shake T.C.'s hand, G.H. "reached around [T.C] and shoved [Mr. Chapman]." Mr. Chapman testified that he then "gave [G.H.] the same shove [that G.H.] gave [him]." He continued that G.H. then came at him with a clenched fist, so he "just defensively jabbed him." Mr. Chapman stated that he tried to move around G.H., but G.H. came at him again with a closed fist, so he "popped him once [more]." He testified that he then exited the bathroom and told his brother that they needed to go because he "just got in a fight" Mr. Chapman's brother confirmed that, when Mr. Chapman exited the bathroom, he said simply that they needed to leave because "[he] got in a fight in the bathroom."

         {¶6} The State's witnesses described the fight and Mr. Chapman's statement upon exiting the bathroom differently than Mr. Chapman and his brother did. T.C. testified that, when he entered the bathroom, Mr. Chapman yelled, "Is that that f***ing tranny[?]" According to T.C, Mr. Chapman then "came flying out of the stall at [him] and had [him] up against the wall." He testified that G.H. then got in between him and Mr. Chapman, told Mr. Chapman to calm down, and tried to separate them. According to T.C, Mr. Chapman told G.H. that "nobody tells me what the f*** to do" and, then, Mr. Chapman hit G.H. knocking him across the room. T.C. testified that Mr. Chapman got on top of G.H. and hit him repeatedly, "probably 15, 16 times." T.C. further testified that he did not see G.H. push or try to punch Mr. Chapman.

         {¶7} G.H. admitted that there were "holes in [his] memory" from that night. But, he remembered someone yelling something "along the lines of, where is this f ing tranny? I'm going to kick his a** " He recalled telling that person that "[n]obody needs to get in a fight." The next thing he remembered was getting knocked out and waking up on the bathroom floor.

         {¶8} Another witness testified that he entered the bathroom after the verbal altercation started. He indicated that initially he tried to stay out of it. But, then he heard more of a commotion and turned and saw G.H. on the floor. He stated that he told Mr. Chapman that he thought G.H. "had enough." He testified that Mr. Chapman continued to punch G.H. "maybe a dozen" times. He further testified that Mr. Chapman finally "seemed to snap out of it" when he repeated "more deliberately" "hey, he's had enough."

         {¶9} An individual who was not in the bathroom testified that he was talking with Mr. Chapman's brother when Mr. Chapman came out of the bathroom. He described Mr. Chapman's demeanor as "frantic." He testified that he heard Mr. Chapman tell his brother that they needed to leave because he "just * * * beat the f*** out of [someone.]" Mr. Chapman's brother testified that he had spoken with this ...


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