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State v. Weaver

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Muskingum

June 21, 2018

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
EMILE L. WEAVER Defendant-Appellant

          Appeal from the Muskingum County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. CR2015-0216

          For Plaintiff-Appellee D. MICHAEL HADDOX Prosecuting Attorney Muskingum County, Ohio GERALD V. ANDERSON II Assistant Prosecuting Attorney.

          For Defendant-Appellant NIKKI TRAUTMAN BASZYNSKI Assistant State Public Defender.

          Hon. John W. Wise, P.J. Hon. William B. Hoffman, J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J., Judge.

          OPINION

          Hoffman, J.

         {¶1} Appellant Emile L. Weaver appeals the judgment entered by the Muskingum County Common Pleas Court dismissing her petition for postconviction relief without a hearing. Appellee is the state of Ohio.

         STATEMENT OF THE FACTS AND CASE

         {¶2} During the spring of 2015, Appellant was a student at Muskingum University, residing in a campus sorority house on Lakeside Drive in New Concord. She denied and covered up the fact she was pregnant.

         {¶3} On April 22, 2015, Appellant went into a bathroom in the sorority house and, without assistance, delivered a daughter, Addison Grace Weaver. The baby was delivered into the toilet. While bleeding profusely, Appellant delivered the placenta, cut the umbilical cord, and pulled the baby out of the toilet. She then placed the placenta and the baby in a small pail that was in the bathroom. She thereupon left the bathroom and rested on a couch.

         {¶4} At some point, Appellant returned to the bathroom with a garbage bag and placed the baby, the placenta, paper towels, and some of her clothing inside the bag. She carried the bag to the side door of the sorority house and placed it outside, next to a garbage can. After this, she went back inside the house to lie down.

         {¶5} Later that day, two sorority members found the bag lying next to the house. They tore a hole in the bag, saw the baby, and called the police.

         {¶6} After first responders came to the scene, paramedics asked Appellant if she was the mother of the baby found outside. Appellant responded she was not the baby's mother. Appellant was also interviewed the same night by Detective Todd Mahle of the Muskingum County Sheriffs Office. The interview took place from 10:26 p.m. until 3:46 a.m. in a break room at the Muskingum University Police building. Appellant eventually detailed to the detective the events which had occurred earlier in the day, although she presented different versions as to whether Addison was born alive. Detective Mahle did not utilize any recording equipment during the interview. At Mahle's request, Appellant returned the next day at about noon to provide a recorded statement.

         {¶7} An autopsy was subsequently performed on Addison. The results showed she had been born alive, but had died of asphyxiation. Tr. at 347, 350, 382.

         {¶8} On July 22, 2015, Appellant was indicted by the Muskingum County Grand Jury on one count of aggravated murder, one count of gross abuse of a corpse, and two counts of tampering with evidence. The case proceeded to a jury trial commencing on May 10, 2016. Appellant was found guilty on all counts.

         {¶9} At sentencing, the trial court merged the two tampering-with-evidence counts and imposed a one-year prison sentence on said offense. The trial court further imposed a three-year prison sentence for gross abuse of a corpse. It ordered these sentences to run consecutively to each other and to the sentence for aggravated murder. Finally, the trial court imposed life in prison without parole for the offense of aggravated murder. In support of its sentencing decision, the trial court concluded appellant was not remorseful, she had committed "the worst form of the offense," and she had caused emotional hardship to her sorority sisters. Sentencing Tr. at 10-16.

         {¶10} Appellant filed an appeal to this Court raising four assignments of error: the trial court erred in imposing a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, the sentence is disproportionate to her conduct, the court erred in imposing consecutive sentences, and the conviction of gross abuse of a corpse was not supported by sufficient evidence. We found we were without statutory authority to review the sentence for aggravated murder, and therefore overruled Appellant's first two assignments of error on the basis of lack of appellate jurisdiction. State v. Weaver, ...


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