Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Richland
from the Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2016 CR 0480 D
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE GARY D. BISHOP, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY
RICHLAND COUNTY BY: JOSEPH C. SNYDER ASSISTANT PROSECUTING
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT WILLIAM T. CRAMER
William B. Hoffman, P.J., Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J., Hon.
Earle E. Wise, Jr., J.
1} Defendant-Appellant Walter T. Renz appeals the April 24,
2017 judgment of conviction and sentence of the Court of
Common Pleas of Richland County. Plaintiff-Appellee is the
state of Ohio.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
2} In the summer of 2015, appellant and his girlfriend, Linda
Buckner, were the next-door neighbors of Patsy Hudson, who
lived alone at 284 Spring Street in Mansfield, Ohio. Hudson,
then in her early sixties and on disability, was known to
rescue and take care of a large number of cats in or around
her house. Her adult son, Lonnie Clevenger, drove trucks for
a living, but he periodically stopped at the house to visit.
According to Lonnie, Hudson sometimes demonstrated reclusive
behaviors, refusing to answer the door or the telephone if
she was busy watching television or was simply having a bad
3} In the short period of time they were neighbors, appellant
and Buckner made a point to become acquainted with Hudson,
preformed chores for her, drove her on local errands such as
grocery shopping, and thereby learned the pin number for
Hudson's debit card.
4} On June 25, 2015, Buckner, using the alias "Cara
Longtail," went to the emergency room in Shelby,
complaining of pain. She was prescribed Flexeril and Atenolol
by Dr. Charles Marti, who was on duty in the E.R. Dr. Marti
later testified he wrote appellant the prescription for
Atenolol because appellant told hospital personnel she had
been prescribed that medication, but she did not have any
left. Both Dr. Marti and a second physician testifying for
the State opined that a high enough dose of Atenolol could be
5} At about this time, Buckner told two neighbors she and
appellant were taking Hudson on a trip to Florida, although
at one point she also stated that she was angry about
appellant spending time at Hudson's house. One of the
neighbors, Walter Liggett, specifically recalled that
appellant and Buckner, in late June 2015, "[s]aid they
was [sic ] going to head back down south and take
Patsy [Hudson] with them to her sister in Florida."
6} Appellant and Buckner also told this neighbor that they
were helping Hudson get rid of her cats. Contrary to this
claim however, Hudson was worried someone was poisoning her
cats. She told her son, Lonnie Clevenger, about this concern
when he visited her in early July 2015. At one point, Hudson
also informed police of the situation. She further continued
to take some of the cats in for veterinarian appointments in
early July. One appointment was scheduled for July 22, 2015,
but Hudson did not show up at the veterinary clinic.
7} Shortly before July 4, 2015, another neighbor, Mark
Clever, overheard an outdoor "yelling and
screaming" argument involving appellant, Buckner and
Hudson. Then, over the next couple of weeks, he noticed
Hudson's mail piling up. Also on July 4th,
Hudson called 911 to report someone was killing her cats.
8} Nicholas Miller, owner of a local lawn service, was
contacted by Hudson in early July 2015. Hudson told him that
"her neighbors" had been helping her with yard
work, but she was concerned that they had been poisoning her
cats so she didn't want them taking further care of her
lawn. On July 10, 2015, Miller mowed Hudson's grass and
received payment for his work. This was the last day Hudson
was seen alive in the neighborhood.
9} On July 10, 2015, Karissa Gibson, a resident of Shelby,
Ohio, was on her lunch break when she drove past an
older-model blue van, similar to one owned by appellant,
pulled over on the side of a country road. She noticed a
"creepy looking" man in the process of dumping
something. The next day, she went by again and found a number
of cats in the area where the van had been sitting. Some of
them had collars. She returned to that spot and eventually,
with the help of a neighbor, took in over twenty cats found
in the general location.
10} Sometime between late July and early August 2015,
appellant and Buckner vacated and abandoned the premises at
290 Spring Street, where they had been living. When the
landlord, Dwight Wallen, went through the property, he found
a ring washer in the basement that was not there when he
first rented the house to them. A ring washer was later found
to be missing from Hudson's house. Investigators also
found a seven-day pill container, with six days' worth of
various medications, in Hudson's house.
11} On August 3, 2015, another neighbor, Steve Au, called the
police after noticing Hudson's mail accumulating, her
grass being quite overgrown, and her cats had
"vanished." When Hudson's son, Lonnie, next
went to see her in August 2015, there was no one home.
However, both of Hudson's vehicles were still at the
house. He attempted to call the number he had for his mother,
but another female voice answered. Lonnie later observed that
his mother's jewelry boxes and two guns were missing from
12} Between July 2015 and January 2016, Hudson's debit
card was used in various locations throughout the United
States including Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Montana,
South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina,
Tennessee, and Mississippi. At some point the two disposed of
appellant's van and ...