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State v. Bruce

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Jefferson

June 25, 2018

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
BRIAN LEE BRUCE, Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Jefferson County, Ohio Case No. 16 CR 189

          Atty. Samuel Pate, Jefferson County Prosecutor's Office, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          Atty. Eric Reszke, for Defendant-Appellant.

          BEFORE: Gene Donofrio, Cheryl L. Waite, Carol Ann Robb, Judges.

          OPINION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY

          DONOFRIO, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant, Brian Bruce, appeals from a Jefferson County Common Pleas Court judgment sentencing him to 30 years in prison following his guilty plea to four counts of felonious assault, aggravated burglary, kidnapping, and attempted murder.

         {¶2} On December 1, 2016, appellant went to the Super 8 Motel in Jefferson County in search of D.W. D.W. had recently obtained a civil protection order against appellant. When he arrived at the motel, appellant pretended to be D.W.'s brother in order to gain access to D.W.'s room. When D.W. opened the door, appellant threatened to kill her. They then began to fight. Appellant hit D.W. and stabbed her with a knife. Appellant eventually took D.W. from the hotel and drove her to his brother's house. Appellant then asked a friend, Ed Walker, to give them a ride to Bergholz. D.W. got into Walker's truck and appellant went back into the house to retrieve his cell phone. When appellant went into the house, D.W. told Walker what appellant had done to her and said that appellant was going to kill her. Walker drove away with D.W. They stopped a Steubenville Police Officer who called an ambulance to transport D.W. to the hospital.

         {¶3} Walker then went to the city of Bergholz to a friend's house and fell asleep in his truck outside of the house. He awoke to appellant beating and stabbing him.

         {¶4} On December 7, 2016, a Jefferson County Grand Jury indicted appellant on four charges relating to D.W.: one count of felonious assault, a second-degree felony in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(1); one count of felonious assault, a second-degree felony in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(2); one count of aggravated burglary, a first-degree felony in violation of R.C. 2911.11(A)(1); and one count of kidnapping, a first-degree felony in violation of R.C. 2905.01(A)(3). The grand jury also indicted appellant on three charges relating to Walker: one count of attempted murder, a first-degree felony in violation of R.C. 2903.02(A) and R.C. 2923.02(A); one count of felonious assault, a second-degree felony in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(1); and one count of felonious assault, a second-degree felony in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(2). Appellant initially pleaded not guilty.

         {¶5} Appellant subsequently changed his plea and entered a guilty plea to all charges in the indictment. The trial court accepted appellant's plea and found him guilty of all charges. The court then proceeded immediately to sentencing.

         {¶6} For purposes of sentencing, the trial court found that Count One merged into Count Two (the two counts of felonious assault against Wiley). It also found that Counts Six and Seven (the two counts of felonious assault against Walker) merged into Count Five (the attempted murder count). Therefore, the court sentenced appellant to six years in prison for felonious assault, six years for aggravated burglary, eight years for kidnapping, and ten years for attempted murder. The court ordered appellant to serve these sentences consecutively for a total prison term of 30 years.

         {¶7} Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal on August 20, 2017. He now raises a single assignment of error.

         {¶8} Appellant's assignment of error states:

THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN SENTENCING THE DEFENDANT TO A PRISON ...

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