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State v. Kronenberg

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

May 17, 2018

STATE OF OHIO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
MICHELLE KRONENBERG DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

          Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-17-614825-A

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Mark A. Stanton Cuyahoga County Public Defender Jeffrey Gamso Assistant County Public Defender

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor BY: Jillian Eckart Assistant County Prosecutor

          BEFORE: Jones, J., E.T. Gallagher, P.J., and S. Gallagher, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          LARRY A. JONES, SR, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Michelle Kronenberg ("Kronenberg") appeals her menacing by stalking convictions that were rendered after a bench trial. She also challenges the trial court's imposition of consecutive sentences. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         Procedural History

         {¶2} In February 2017, Kronenberg was charged with three counts of menacing by stalking in violation of R.C. 2903.211(A)(1). The indictment charged that the offenses occurred on February 22, 2017, and there was a count for each of the three victims: James LaMarca (Count 1), Mary Jo LaMarca (Count 2), and Alysse LaMarca (Count 3). All three counts contained "furthermore" clauses, that alleged that Kronenberg "trespassed on the land or premises where the victim lives, is employed, or attends school."

         {¶3} The state filed a notice of intent to use other acts evidence pursuant to Evid.R. 404(B). After competency issues were addressed, Kronenberg waived her rights to both counsel and a jury trial, and the matter proceeded to a bench trial with Kronenberg representing herself with stand-by counsel. After its deliberation, the court found Kronenberg guilty as indicted. The court sentenced her to the maximum term of 18 months for each count and ordered that the sentences be served consecutively. Kronenberg now appeals and presents the following assignments of error for our review:

I. The evidence was insufficient to convict Ms. Kronenberg on Count 1 of the indictment because there was no evidence that any action by Ms. Kronenberg would knowingly cause James LaMarca to believe that she would cause him physical harm or mental distress.
II. The evidence was insufficient to convict Ms. Kronenberg on Counts 2 and 3 of the indictment because there was no evidence of a "pattern of conduct" on her part in relationship to the alleged victims of those counts.
III. The evidence was insufficient to convict Ms. Kronenberg of menacing by stalking because none of the alleged victims [were] aware of any "pattern of conduct" that would cause them to believe that she would cause any [of] them to suffer physical harm or mental distress.
IV. The trial court did not make the findings necessary to support the imposition of consecutive sentences.

         Background and Other Acts Evidence

         {¶4} James and Mary Jo LaMarca are husband and wife, and Alysse is their adult daughter; at all relevant times, they resided together in Mayfield Heights. All three testified at trial.

         {¶5} Kronenberg and James LaMarca met in the late 1980's, early 1990's, when Kronenberg worked for James's funeral home business. Kronenberg did telemarketing for the business, soliciting people to prearrange their funerals. Approximately one year into her employment with the business, however, the telemarketing program was eliminated, and Kronenberg lost her job.

         {¶6} Initially, James and Kronenberg kept in touch. James testified that they were "friends"; he never had any romantic interest in Kronenberg, but she confided a lot of her personal problems to him. They would communicate via each other's cell and home phones, as well as by email. James testified that Kronenberg's contact with him eventually got excessive; for example, at times she called him "hundreds of times" during the course of one day, and would write page-long "rambling" emails.

         {¶7} James testified that in 2000, he told Kronenberg not to call him anymore, and that request made Kronenberg upset. Kronenberg did not honor the request, however, and she would call James's cell and home numbers as well as the funeral home number.[1] After this point in time, the LaMarca family's interactions with Kronenberg were what they described as "harassing" and "scary" and led them to seek legal intervention.

         {¶8} In 2003, James sought and was granted, through the Lyndhurst Municipal Court, a no-contact order for himself, Mary Jo, and Alysse. The order was effective for one year. When the order expired, Kronenberg started contacting James again.

         {¶9} In 2008, Kronenberg was sentenced to two years of community control sanctions for seven counts of telecommunications harassment of the LaMarca family. See Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-08-508145. Shortly after she was sentenced, Kronenberg violated the sanctions and was sent to Northcoast Behavioral Health Care for six months.

         {¶10} In March 2010, James sought and was granted a civil protection order for himself and his family. Kronenberg was arrested in September 2010, after she went to the LaMarca's house. She was convicted of violating the protection order, telecommunications harassment, and criminal trespass, and was sentenced to a three-year prison term. See Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-11-548068. Upon her release in 2013, Kronenberg contacted the LaMarca family and was sentenced to another three-year prison term. See Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-13-579027.

         {¶11} Kronenberg was released from prison on February 19, 2017. James testified that on February 21, 2017, she called his cell phone approximately 11 times. He did not tell Mary Jo and Alysse about the calls. Then, on February 22, 2017, at approximately 12:30 a.m., Kronenberg showed up at the LaMarca residence.

         {¶12} Alysse testified that she was awakened by the ringing doorbell and "pounding" on the door of their home. She was "extremely frightened, panicked, scared [and] had no idea what was happening * * *." She woke her parents up, and her mother called the police. She did not initially know it was Kronenberg who was at the door, and when she learned that it was her, she became "extremely ...


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