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State v. Roden

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Stark

March 30, 2018

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
MICHAEL JAY RODEN Defendant-Appellant

          Criminal appeal from the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2017CR0312

          For Plaintiff-Appellee JOHN D FERRERO BY RONALD MARK CALDWELL

          For Defendant-Appellant MARY G. WARLOP

          Hon. John W. Wise, P.J. Hon. W. Scott Gwin, J. Hon. William B. Hoffman, J.

          OPINION

          GWIN, JUDGE.

         {¶1} Appellant Michael Jay Roden ["Roden"] appeals his convictions and sentence after a jury trial in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas.

         Facts and Procedural History

         {¶2} On the night of September 5, 2016, R.P. drove in search of her former boyfriend, Roden, who had broken up with her and was apparently seeing another woman. The pair broke up six to twelve months earlier. (T. at 187). The two had dated and had last lived together in 2015. T. at 185. R.P. drove to the home of Roden's brother. As R.P. walked up onto the front porch, Roden opened the door and punched her three times in the right eye, knocking her off the porch.

         {¶3} R.P. picked herself up and went to a neighbor's door crying. This neighbor called 9-1-1, and the police quickly responded. Canton Police Officer Michael Lombardi approached the porch with his body camera activated and found R.P. yelling and screaming. Lombardi noticed that her right eye was badly swollen, that there was a fresh mark on her forehead, and that R.P.'s mouth was bloody. The officer noted that R.P. was intoxicated. Lombardi asked R.P. what had happened, and she told him that Roden came outside as she was on the porch and hit her three times in the face, knocking her off the porch. T. at 232. Lombardi then tended to R.P., who declined any medical treatment. Footage from Officer Lombards body camera was admitted into evidence. State's Exhibit 1. In the video R.P. stated that Roden punched her three times and pushed her down the stairs.

         {¶4} The next day, R.P. went to the Aultman Hospital emergency room for treatment. While there, R.P. told medical staff that her injuries were caused by Roden punching her in the eye three times. T. at 203. The examination revealed that her right eye socket had sustained a fracture that would require surgery. T. at 204. The prosecutor introduced photographs of R.P. and her medical records from that night. T. 196. State's Exhibits 2A-2D; 3.

         {¶5} R.P. was subpoenaed to testify before the Grand Jury. However, R.P. testified that her injuries were caused not by Roden punching her, but by her falling off the cement porch and striking her head. R.P. testified that she told a different story to the grand jury because it was the truth, not because anyone had asked her or offered to pay her to tell a different story. T. at 220-221. R.P. acknowledged that although she and Roden had been broken up for six to twelve months, she still had feelings for him and they were still having sexual relations. T. 217-218. R.P. testified that she was angry on the night in question because she was hoping that they would reunite. T. 218. However, on the night in question she learned that Roden had started seeing someone else. T. 218. R.P. testified that after she learned of this she had become very intoxicated. T. 219. She went over to confront Roden. T. 219. She acknowledged that she felt that that night was an opportunity to get back at Roden. R.P. testified that that she was hurt and angry because Roden was seeing someone else. That is why she had told the story to the police officers and the hospital staff. T. 220.

         {¶6} The Grand Jury returned an Indictment charging Roden with Felonious Assault in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(1), a felony of the second degree and one count of Domestic Violence in violation of R.C. 2929.25(A) a felony of the fourth degree.

         {¶7} R.P. then repeated the story that her injuries were caused by a fall in an affidavit that was prepared by Roden's lawyer, as well as during her trial testimony. She claimed that she was angry with Roden and just wanted to get back at him. T. 190-192, 198-199, 211-215, 220, 221-223. R.P. admitted that she remained close with Roden's family, talking consistently with them. In addition, she testified that she blamed herself for even going to where Roden was in the first place. Finally, R.P. explained at trial that her memory of events that night did not come back to her until several days later. T. 205-206, 209-210, 215-216, 224.

         {¶8} The jury found Roden guilty of both counts. The trial court thereafter imposed a two-year prison term for both convictions, but merged the offenses for sentencing.

         Assignment of Error

         {¶9} Roden raises one assignment of error, {¶10} "I. THE JURY'S FINDING OF GUILT WAS NOT SUPPORTED BY SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE AND WAS AGAINST THE MANIFEST WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE."

         Law and Analyses.

         {¶11} In his sole assignment of error, Roden argues that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of felonious assault and domestic violence. Roden further contends that the ...


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