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State v. Mayle

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Stark

June 25, 2018

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
TIMMY LEE MAYLE Defendant-Appellant

          CHARACTER OF PROCEEDING: Appeal from the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2016 CR 1005

          For Plaintiff-Appellee JOHN D. FERRERO, Prosecuting Attorney, KRISTINE W. BEARD Assistant Prosecuting Attorney

          For Defendant-Appellant GEORGE URBAN

          JUDGES: Hon. John W. Wise, P.J. Hon. W. Scott Gwin, J. Hon. William B. Hoffman, J.


          HOFFMAN, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Timmy Lee Mayle appeals his conviction and sentence entered by the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, on one count of murder, in violation of R.C. 2903.02(A)(1); and one count of endangering children, in violation of R.C. 2919.22(B)(1) and (E)(2)(d), following a jury trial Plaintiff-appellee is the state of Ohio.


         {¶2} On July 11, 2016, the Stark County Grand Jury indicted Appellant on the aforementioned charges, arising from the death of the twelve month old child of Kayle Yoho while the child was in Appellant's care. Appellant appeared for arraignment on July 15, 2016, and entered a plea of not guilty to the Indictment.

         {¶3} The matter proceeded to jury trial on July 19, 2017. The following evidence was presented at trial.

         {¶4} Kayle Yoho and Appellant lived together at 1134 7th Street, NW, Canton, Stark County, Ohio, with Yoho's twelve month old child. Appellant was not the father of the child. Yoho worked two jobs, leaving for work at 8:30 a.m., and sometimes not returning until after the child's bedtime. Appellant became the child's primary caregiver.

         {¶5} On March 11, 2016, Yoho left for work at approximately 8:50 a.m. Appellant and the child were still asleep. At approximately 10:00 a.m., Appellant woke up, showered, and checked on the child, who had an extremely dirty diaper. Appellant called Yoho about a half an hour later, inquiring when she would be home. Yoho informed him she would be home in about an hour and a half. Appellant finally removed the child from her pack-n-play, proceeded downstairs, and placed the child on the dining room floor. Within minutes of calling Yoho, Appellant ran outside, trying to find help for the child, who was limp and unresponsive. Appellant flagged down a truck driver who allowed Appellant to use his cell phone to call 911.

         {¶6} Paramedics responded to the call at approximately 10:37 a.m. When they arrived, they found the child unconscious with irregular breathing. Appellant initially told paramedics he did not know what happened to the child. Paramedics placed the child in the ambulance and proceeded to ventilate her with a bag valve mask and give her oxygen. They continued to ask Appellant what happened to the child, and he continued to say he did not know. After one paramedic told Appellant to stop "dicking around", he responded the child might have fallen down two steps. Paramedics, frustrated with Appellant's lack of candor, closed the door to the ambulance and transported the child to Mercy Medical Center. The child was later transferred to Akron Children's Hospital, where she was declared brain dead. Yoho decided to remove the child from life support. The child died on March 12, 2016.

         {¶7} Canton Police Officer Richard Hart testified he and his partner, David Wolgamott, were dispatched to 1134 7th St., NW, in Canton, to assist the fire department with a medical emergency. Upon their arrival, the officers spoke with paramedics and were informed they were treating an unresponsive child. The officers learned Appellant was the child's caretaker and made contact with him. Appellant told the officers when the child awoke that morning everything seemed to be fine. Appellant placed the child on the floor in the dining room and left to take the dogs outside. Appellant then heard a thud. When he went inside, he found the child unresponsive. Appellant identified Yoho as the child's mother and advised the officers she was at work. At one point during their conversation, Appellant told Officer Hart a day or two prior to the incident he (Appellant) had informed Yoho he no longer wanted to watch the child as it was too much for him. On May 12, 2016, detectives learned the child would not survive and Appellant became a suspect.

         {¶8} Detective Joseph Mongold of the Canton Police Department initially responded to Mercy Medical Center and spoke with paramedics, emergency room nurses, and Yoho. After the child was transported to Akron Children's Hospital, he responded to the scene and assisted with the consent search of the residence. Det. Mongold returned to the police department and contacted Dr. Raizman, a board certified child abuse expert at Akron Children's Hospital. Det. Mongold learned the child had skull fractures and her injuries were not consistent with the kinds of injuries from a fall or an accident. At that point, Det. Mongold's view of Appellant "began to evolve." Tr. Vol. V at 23. He ultimately developed Appellant as a suspect.

         {¶9} Det. Mongold interviewed Appellant on March 17, 2016. By that time, Det. Mongold had learned the child's injuries were not the result of an accident or a fall down the stairs, but "were in fact a result, a direct result of abuse that occurred at the time of the incident." Id. at 31. Appellant told Det. Mongold he knew the child's father, David Tucke, and added Tucke and Yoho had a bad relationship. Appellant informed the detective Yoho's relationship with Tucke ended on September 4, 2015, and he (Appellant) and Yoho began their relationship on September 5, 2015. During the interview, Appellant stated Tucke had last seen the child in October, 2015, then subsequently indicated Tucke had last seen the child three months prior to the incident.

         {¶10} Appellant told Det. Mongold Yoho started working two jobs three or four months prior to the incident. Appellant advised the detective the child was in good health the week before her death. Appellant noted the child was unable to go up the stairs. When he woke up on the morning of March 11, 2016, Appellant found the child's diaper "full of piss and shit", which was running down her legs. He proceeded to shower and then picked up the child. Holding the child away from him, Appellant went downstairs and placed her on the dining room floor. Appellant left the room and let the dogs outside through the back door. Appellant heard three "hits", returned to the dining room, and found the child unresponsive.

         {¶11} Appellant repeatedly told Det. Mongold the child was fine and had no problems when she woke up on the morning of March 11, 2016. Det. Mongold testified the events as described by Appellant did not match the medical evidence and the conclusions reached by the medical examiner.

         {¶12} Dr. Michael Rubin, chairperson of the pediatric radiology department at Akron Children's Hospital, reviewed the child's CT scans. Dr. Rubin testified the scans revealed numerous injuries to the child's body in various stages of healing. The injuries included bone fractures to her left forearm, lower left leg, and lower right leg; a skull fracture; and a spine compression fracture. Dr. Rubin noted, while these injuries were indicative of child abuse, those injuries did not cause or contribute to the child's death. Dr. Rubin observed a diffuse swelling of the child's brain, indicating a deprivation of oxygen and an insufficient blood supply. Dr. Rubin explained such a brain injury could be caused by drowning; strangulation; involvement in a high speed motor vehicle accident; non-accidental trauma, for example, child abuse; or severe infections like meningitis. He noted a severe brain injury, as the child had, does not result from a fall down stairs or a fall off of a bed. Dr. Rubin added, although a skull fracture can occur from a fall down stairs, it is unusual. He concluded the child's injury was the result of severe trauma, and based upon the soft tissue swelling, edema, and hematoma, the injury occurred recently.

         {¶13} Dr. George Sterbenz, Chief Deputy Medical Examiner at the Summit County Medical Examiner's Office, performed the autopsy of the child. Dr. Sterbenz noted the report from Mercy Medical Center revealed the child arrived at the hospital in a severe coma with a Glasgow Coma Score of 3, which is the lowest score, and was in respiratory distress, requiring intubation. A CT scan of the child's head revealed an occipital skull fracture, a fracture at the back of the head. A second CT scan was performed at Akron Children's Hospital, which confirmed the presence of the occipital skull fracture as well as bleeding inside the cranial cavity and abnormal traumatic swelling of the brain, which caused her skull bones to push apart. Clinicians at Akron Children's Hospital also noted facial bruising on the child's chin and left eyelid. A skeletal survey performed at Akron Children's Hospital revealed a spine compression fracture and fracture of the left shin bone, left arm bone, right shin bone, and right foreleg.

         {¶14} After examination of the child's head, scalp, and skull, Dr. Sterbenz determined the child had been subjected to more than a dozen blunt impact injuries to the front and back of her head. The pattern of bleeding in the skin of the scalp and over the galeal, the membrane covering the skull, indicated these impacts were repeated over a short period of time in the same location. The child also had a fracture from her lambdoidal suture, the connective tissue joint at the back of the skull, to the foramen magnum, the opening where the spinal cord emerges from the cranial cavity, which caused the skull to become unstable. The fracture also seriously affected the area where the skull and brain stem meet, which is the area responsible for regulating the heart and breathing. Dr. Sterbenz noted the skull fracture and bruises to the child's scalp and galeal were reflective of severe blows to the head.

         {¶15} Dr. Sterbenz explained these blows caused concussive forces, shock waves, to travel through the child's brain and skull, resulting in irrevocable stretching, tearing, and killing of brain cells. The skull fracture alone was potentially fatal. The concussive waves also caused excessive swelling of the brain, hemorrhaging in the optic nerve and eyes, and the separation of her brain from her skull. These injuries were recent, "meaning they occurred within minutes of her presenting fatal event." Tr. Vol. IV at 134. Dr. Sterbenz concluded the child died from a concussive brain injury with traumatic encephalopathy due to craniocerebral blunt force trauma. He opined the pattern of injuries was not consistent with a tumbling fall down the stairs. Dr. Sterbenz testified, in his experience, the injuries were ...

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