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State v. Koon

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Lorain

May 29, 2018

STATE OF OHIO Appellee
v.
HEATHER KOON Appellant

          APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF LORAIN, OHIO CASE No. 13CR088190

          JOHN TOTH, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          DENNIS P. WILL, Prosecuting Attorney, and NATASHA RUIZ GUERRIERI, Assistant Proecuting Attorney, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          DONNA J. CARR, JUDGE.

         {¶1} Appellant, Heather Koon, appeals from the judgment of the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas. This Court affirms.

         I.

         {¶2} In December 2013, the Lorain County Grand Jury indicted Koon on a litany of criminal offenses and attendant specifications. The charges stemmed from Koon's alleged role in a horrific scheme involving her boyfriend where she sexually abused multiple children at the day care center where she worked. Koon eventually pleaded guilty to 17 felony charges, including four counts of rape of a minor under the age of thirteen, multiple counts of kidnapping, multiple counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor, as well as other charges. Koon reserved the right to try the sexually violent predator specifications to the bench and the trial court determined that the State failed to meet its burden of proof. The matter proceeded to sentencing. On each rape count, the trial court imposed a life sentence without the possibility of parole and ordered those sentences to run concurrently with each other. The trial court further sentenced Koon on the remaining offenses, with several counts merging for the purpose of sentencing. Koon was also designated as a Tier III sex offender.

         {¶3} On appeal, Koon raises two assignments of error.

         II.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR I

         [] THE PRISON SENTENCE OF LIFE WITHOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE WAS AN ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN THIS CASE.

         {¶4} In her first assignment of error, Koon argues that the trial court abused its discretion when it sentenced her to life without the possibility of parole for her rape convictions. This Court disagrees.

         {¶5} Koon does not argue that her sentence is unlawful in support of her first assignment of error. Instead, Koon contends that the trial court abused its discretion by imposing a maximum sentence in light of the mitigating circumstances that exist in this case. Koon suggests that the fact that she was a victim of sexual abuse herself constituted substantial grounds to mitigate her conduct pursuant to R.C. 2929.12(C)(4). Koon further stresses that the factors set forth in R.C. 2929.12(D) & (E) weighed against a maximum sentence given that she had no prior criminal record and that the State's own expert indicated that she was not at a high risk of reoffending. Finally, Koon notes that she took responsibility for her crimes, that she showed remorse in court, and that she was just 28 years old at the time of sentencing.

         {¶6} "In reviewing a felony sentence, [t]he appellate court's standard for review is not whether the sentencing court abused its discretion." (Internal quotations omitted.) State v. Boatright, 9th Dist. Summit No. 28101, 2017-Ohio-5794, ¶ 44, quoting State v. Howard, 9th Dist. Lorain No. 15CA010857, 2016-Ohio-7077, ¶ 5, quoting R.C. 2953.08(G)(2). "[A]n appellate court may vacate or modify a felony sentence on appeal only if it determines by clear and convincing evidence that: (1) the record does not support the trial court's findings under relevant statutes, or (2) the sentence is otherwise contrary to law." (Internal quotations omitted.) Boatright at ¶ 44, quoting Howard at ¶ 5, quoting State v. Marcum, 146 Ohio St.3d 516, 2016-Ohio-1002, ΒΆ 1. "Clear and convincing evidence is that which will produce in the ...


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