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State v. Purvis

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Butler

July 23, 2018

DAVID E. PURVIS, Defendant-Appellant.


          Neal D. Schuett, Hamilton City Prosecutor, for plaintiff-appellee

          Christopher P. Frederick, for defendant-appellant


          HENDRICKSON, J.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, David E. Purvis, appeals from his conviction in the Hamilton Municipal Court for domestic violence. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm his conviction.

         {¶ 2} Following an incident that occurred between appellant and his 14-year-old daughter, E.P., at E.P.'s friend's home in New Miami, Ohio on May 13, 2017, appellant was arrested and charged with one count of domestic violence in violation of R.C. 2919.25(A), a misdemeanor of the first degree. Appellant pled not guilty to the charge and the matter proceeded to a bench trial before a magistrate.

         {¶ 3} At trial, the state presented testimony from E.P., New Miami Police Officer Joseph Snyder, and Matthias Jones, an eyewitness to the incident. E.P. testified she did not have permission to be at her friend's house on May 13, 2017, and her parents had demanded that she leave. E.P. refused and appellant and his wife went to E.P.'s friend's house to escort E.P. home.

         {¶ 4} E.P. testified that once appellant arrived, he grabbed her by the back of the neck "really hard" and started to walk her towards the door. E.P. did not like being forced out of the house and shrugged her shoulders to try to get appellant to release her. Appellant, still holding E.P. by the neck, responded to E.P.'s efforts by hitting her in the mouth. E.P. could not recall which hand appellant used to hit her in the mouth but stated the hit "felt more [like] a punch than a slap." E.P. did not suffer any bruising or cuts to her mouth, but she claimed her face was swollen the following morning. She did not, however, take any photographs of her swollen face.

         {¶ 5} After appellant struck E.P. in the mouth, he continued to force E.P. out of her friend's home. Once E.P. was outside, appellant attempted to push her into his vehicle. E.P. resisted and appellant and his wife, E.P.'s mother, held E.P. against the side of the car so that she could not get away. While appellant attempted to force E.P. into his vehicle, E.P.'s friend's stepfather, Jones, called 9-1-1 to report the incident. After officers arrived on the scene, E.P. spoke with an officer about appellant hitting her in the mouth.

         {¶ 6} Jones testified he was present when appellant tried to force E.P. out of his home. Jones observed appellant grab E.P. and try to shove her out the door. He also saw appellant "haul off and punch" E.P. with his closed, right fist. Jones testified that "no child should be hit like that," and he called the police to report appellant's actions.

         {¶ 7} Officer Snyder responded to Jones' home around 11:00 p.m. after receiving notice of the domestic dispute. When he arrived on scene, he observed appellant, E.P., and E.P.'s mother in Jones' driveway near a vehicle. Appellant had his arms around E.P. and appeared to be restraining her. Snyder instructed appellant to release E.P. and then spoke to appellant, E.P., and Jones.

         {¶ 8} During Snyder's conversation with appellant, appellant stated that E.P. struck him when he was trying to get her to leave Jones' house. Appellant also told Snyder that he "smacked [E.P.] with an open hand" and that he did so because "he was allowed to discipline his * * * daughter." Snyder then spoke with a hysterical E.P. and obtained her version of events.

         {¶ 9} Snyder testified that as someone who deals with domestic violence calls on a "regular basis," he is familiar with what a person looks like after a person has been punched in the face, and he did not see any marks on E.P. that were consistent with being punched in the face. As Snyder did not observe any redness or visible injuries to E.P.'s face, no photographs were taken at the scene. Nonetheless, based on Jones' and E. P.'s statements, Snyder arrested appellant for domestic violence.

         {¶ 10} Following Snyder's testimony, defense counsel moved for acquittal pursuant to Crim.R. 29. His motion was denied, and appellant presented testimony from E.P.'s mother and grandmother on behalf of his defense. Mother testified that when she and appellant arrived at Jones' residence to take E.P. home, E.P. used foul language and refused to leave. When appellant put his hand behind E.P.'s head to usher her out the house, E.P. "started fighting him and she cussed and then she threw her hand up and hit him." Mother then saw appellant "smack" E.P. with an open hand. Mother opined that the hit "wasn't anything major" and was an appropriate form of discipline. Mother believed the hit "was warranted" given ...

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