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State v. Daniels

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton

May 2, 2018

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RUSSELL DANIELS, Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal From: Hamilton County Municipal Court Trial No. 17CRB-1667

          Paula Boggs Muething, City Solicitor, Natalia Harris, City Prosecutor, and Christopher Liu, Assistant City Prosecutor, for Plaintiff-Appellee,

          William F. Oswall, Jr., for Defendant-Appellant.

          OPINION

          ZAYAS, JUDGE.

         {¶1} Russell Daniels appeals his conviction in the Hamilton County Municipal Court for domestic violence in violation of R.C. 2919.25(A). The victim of the offense was Daniels's wife, Crystal Daniels. For ease of discussion, we will refer to Crystal Daniels as Mrs. Daniels.

         {¶2} Daniels challenges his conviction on the grounds that the trial court abused its discretion in not dismissing the case at the state's request, his trial counsel was ineffective for not requesting a jury trial after the court denied the request to dismiss and not objecting to prejudicial evidence, and the conviction was against the manifest weight of the evidence. We find no merit to Daniels's arguments and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         Relevant Facts

         {¶3} Russell Daniels was charged with one count of domestic violence in violation of RC. 2919.25(A), a misdemeanor of the first degree. The complaint alleged that Daniels had physically harmed his wife by picking her up by her face and pulling her hair.

         {¶4} Daniels pled not guilty and proceeded to a bench trial. Prior to trial, the prosecutor informed the trial court that Mrs. Daniels did not wish to proceed because the charge was based on a heated argument with her husband. The prosecutor requested that the case be dismissed for want of prosecution.

         {¶5} The trial court invited the investigating officer to speak. The officer confirmed that the charge was based on a verbal argument that turned physical. He further explained that Mrs. Daniels had alleged that Daniels had attempted to break their dog's neck and had followed her when she had left the house to file a police report. After hearing these facts, the trial court denied the state's request to dismiss the charge.

         {¶6} Mrs. Daniels and Daniels testified at trial and agreed to the following facts. The Danielses had been married for 22 years, and had three children together. They had been separated for three days when Mrs. Daniels invited him to the marital home to discuss their marriage. The discussion took place in their bedroom, while Mrs. Daniels was lying in bed. Their discussion became heated after he accused her of cheating. Both were screaming and yelling at each other.

         {¶7} Each testified to a different version of the physical altercation. Mrs. Daniels testified that her hair was in a ponytail, and that Daniels pulled her hair, but did not hurt her. Then he grabbed her face and chin and raised her face upwards. She explained that the facial grab did not leave any marks, but it hurt. While they were arguing, the dog jumped on the bed and tried to play with Daniels. Daniels lifted the dog by the scruff of its neck and set the dog on the floor.

         {¶8} After Daniels grabbed her, they continued the argument downstairs. While they were arguing, their 12-year-old daughter came into the room and slapped Daniels in the face. Daniels moved their daughter, but did not hurt her. Mrs. Daniels asked him to leave, and she went to her car with her daughter and the dog to call 911. She saw his car behind hers briefly and initially assumed that he was following her. When she looked behind her a second time, he was gone. She proceeded to drive to the police station to file a report.

         {¶9} During cross-examination, the following exchange occurred between counsel for Daniels and Mrs. Daniels:

Q. This incident allegedly took place on January 20th of this year; is that correct?
A. Yes.
Q. And actually - - correct me if I'm wrong, but January 19th, you actually went to District 3 to inquire about how ...

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