FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF
LORAIN, OHIO CASE No. 13CR088190
TOTH, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.
P. WILL, Prosecuting Attorney, and NATASHA RUIZ GUERRIERI,
Assistant Proecuting Attorney, for Appellee.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
J. CARR, JUDGE.
Appellant, Heather Koon, appeals from the judgment of the
Lorain County Court of Common Pleas. This Court affirms.
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.
On appeal, Koon raises two assignments of error.
OF ERROR I
PRISON SENTENCE OF LIFE WITHOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE WAS
AN ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN THIS CASE.
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.
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
"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, ¶ 1. "Clear and convincing
evidence is that which will produce in the ...