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State v. Valdez

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Putnam

May 7, 2018

STATE OF OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
RENE A. VALDEZ, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

          Appeal from Putnam County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No. 2016 CR 80

          Michael J. Short for Appellant.

          Katherine G. Porter for Appellee.

          OPINION

          ZIMMERMAN, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant, Rene Valdez ("Valdez"), appeals the October 25, 2017 judgment of the Putnam County Common Pleas Court sentencing him to twelve (12) years in prison after he was found guilty of Possession of Drugs (3 Counts), Trafficking in Drugs, Illegal Assembly or Possession of Chemicals for the Manufacture of Drugs, and Having Weapons While Under Disability.

         Facts and Procedural History

         {¶2} On November 2, 2016, Valdez was indicted on seven criminal charges in Putnam County: Count One, Possession of Drugs (Cocaine), in violation of R.C. 2925.11(A) & (C)(4)(e), a felony of the first degree; Count Two, Possession of Drugs (Methamphetamine), in violation of R.C. 2925.11(A) & (C)(1)(b), a felony of the third degree; Count Three, Possession of Drugs (Oxycodone), in violation of R.C. 2925.11(A) & (C)(1)(b), a felony of the third degree; Count Four, Trafficking in Drugs, in violation of R.C. 2925.03(A)(2) & (C)(4)(f), a felony of the third degree; Count Five, Illegal Assembly or Possession of Chemicals for the Manufacture of Drugs, in violation of R.C. 2925.041, a felony of the third degree; Count Six, Tampering with Evidence, in violation of R.C. 291.12(A)(2), a felony of the third degree; and Count Seven, Having Weapons While Under a Disability, in violation of R.C. 2923.13(A)(3), a felony of the third degree. A forfeiture specification, in violation of R.C. 2941.1417, was also contained in Count Four. The charges stem from an October 15, 2016 traffic stop in Putnam County, Ohio. Valdez was a passenger in the vehicle involved in the traffic stop.

         {¶3} Valdez pled not guilty to all charges and a jury trial was scheduled. On September 25, 2017 the case proceeded to a jury trial. At trial, in its case in chief, the State called Deputy Jared West ("Dep. West"), Det. Marvin Schweibert ("Det. Schweibert"), Todd Pingle, ("Pingle"), Deputy Troy Stevenson ("Dep. Stevenson"), Roy Sargent ("Sargent"), Aaron Giesige ("Giesige"), all with the Putnam County Sheriffs Office. The State's witnesses also included: Samuel Fortener "(Fortener"), with the Ohio Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation; Agent Ben Williams ("Williams"), with the Multi-Area Narcotics task force; Investigator Steven Mueller ("Mueller"), with the Defiance County Sheriff s Office; and Colleen Wiseman, with the Multi-Area Narcotics task force

         {¶4} After the State presented its case, Valdez made a Rule 29 motion for acquittal on all counts. The trial court granted the motion only as to Count 6. Thereafter, Valdez presented his defense through the testimonies of Christina Valdez ("Christina"), Dakota Valdez ("Dakota"), Tasha Ellis ("Ellis") and Chelsea Campbell ("Campbell"). However, Valdez did not testify.

         {¶5} The jury found Valdez guilty on all of the remaining charges, including the forfeiture specification and the case was scheduled for sentencing. Ultimately, the trial court sentenced Valdez to an aggregate prison term of twelve years, journalized by its journal entry of October 25, 2017. It is from this judgment entry that Valdez appeals asserting the following assignments of error for our review.

         Assignment of Error No. I

         THE CONVICTIONS ARE AGAINST THE MANIFEST WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE

         Assignment of Error No. II

         THE PROSECUTOR'S COMMENTS DURING CLOSING ARGUMENT ...


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