Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth District, Highland
C. Nelson, Assistant State Public Defender, Columbus, Ohio,
P. Collins, Highland County Prosecuting Attorney, and Molly
Bolek, Highland County Assistant Prosecutor, Hillsboro, Ohio,
DECISION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY
Defendant-appellant, Casey W. Patton ("Patton"),
appeals the judgment of the Highland County Court of Common
Pleas, which convicted him of Grand Theft of a Motor Vehicle
and sentenced him to fifteen months of incarceration. On
appeal, Patton contends that he was denied a fair trial due
to prosecutorial misconduct; that the trial court abused its
discretion in ordering him to pay restitution; and that he
was denied due process because the conviction was not
supported by sufficient evidence. Having reviewed the record,
we find that the prosecution's remarks did not
prejudicially affect the outcome of Patton's trial.
However, we find that the trial court did err in ordering
restitution without competent, credible evidence in the
record to establish the amount of the restitution to a
reasonable degree of certainty.
Therefore, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed in
part and reversed in part; and this matter is remanded for
further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Facts and Procedural History
On January 28, 2018, Steven O'Connor
("O'Connor") drove his girlfriend's blue
2014 Chevrolet Sonic ("Chevy Sonic") to Community
Markets in Hillsboro, Ohio to pick up some items for dinner.
(Tr. at 113). O'Connor parked the car and left it running
for his two dogs while he ran into the store. (Id.).
At that time, Patton was walking through Community
Markets' parking lot. (Tr. at 101). After O'Connor
entered the store, Patton entered the Chevy Sonic and drove
When O'Connor exited the store, he noticed that the Chevy
Sonic was gone and promptly called the police. (Tr. at 114).
Officer Jeremy Conley ("Officer Conley") of the
Hillsboro Police Department responded to the scene and
reviewed the surveillance video. (Tr. at 100-101). Officer
Conley testified that he called OnStar, a GPS system in the
Chevy Sonic, and was able to locate the vehicle. (Tr. at
Soon thereafter, Officer William Vandemark ("Officer
Vandemark") of the Seaman Police Department received a
report that the stolen vehicle was heading south on OH-247
towards Seaman, Ohio. (Tr. at 118-119). Officer Vandemark
testified that he was heading north on OH-247 when he
observed a blue Chevy Sonic heading southbound. (Tr. at 120).
Officer Vandemark chased the Chevy Sonic and was eventually
able to cut the vehicle off at an intersection in Seaman,
Ohio. (Tr. at 120-121). Officer Vandemark identified Patton
as the driver and sole occupant of the stolen vehicle at the
time of the stop. (Tr. at 121).
After being advised that a Seaman police officer had stopped
the Chevy Sonic, Officer Conley arrived at the scene and made
contact with Patton. (Tr. at 107). Officer Conley testified
that Patton was wearing the same clothing as the male he
observed in the surveillance video. (Tr. at 105, 108).
According to Officer Conley, Patton had the Chevy Sonic for
approximately four and a half hours before the vehicle was
recovered. (Tr. at 108). Officer Conley also testified that
he did not look to see if there was any damage done to the
vehicle. (Tr. at 110).
Sometime after midnight, Officer Adam Day ("Officer
Day") of the Hillsboro Police Department interviewed
Patton at the Highland County Justice Center about the
incident. (Tr. at 132). According to Officer Day, Patton
claimed that he needed a ride; therefore, he took the car to
New Vienna, Ohio to speak with his girlfriend and then headed
to Seaman, Ohio to see his uncle. (Tr. at 130). Patton
cooperated with the investigation and gave a voluntary
statement. Patton explained that he "stole" the
vehicle and told Officer Day where he had dropped
O'Connor's dogs off. (Tr. at 130, 132). Patton also
told Officer Day that he was planning to take the vehicle
back to the parking lot after he visited his uncle. (Tr. at
On January 29, 2018, a police officer called Chelsea Wilson
("Wilson"), O'Connor's girlfriend and the
owner of the blue 2014 Chevy Sonic. (Tr. at 136). Based on
the information Patton gave to the police, Wilson and
O'Connor were able to find their dogs. (Tr. at 136-137).
Wilson was also able to pick her vehicle up that day from
Seaman, Ohio. (Tr. at 136). Wilson and O'Connor both
testified that the rear view mirror had been ripped out and
that the items stored in the glove box were missing. (Tr. at
116, 136). O'Connor testified that the mirror was
equipped with OnStar emblems, which allow you to make a call
in case of an emergency. (Tr. at 117, 128). Further, Wilson
and O'Connor both testified that they did not know
Patton. (Tr. at 114, 135).
On March 6, 2018, the Highland County Grant Jury indicted
Patton on one count of Grand Theft of a Motor Vehicle, a
fourth degree felony, in violation of R.C. 2913.02(A)(2). (OP
1). A jury trial was conducted on April 23, 2018. Before
closing arguments, the jury was instructed on both Grand
Theft of a Motor Vehicle and the lesser included offense of
Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle. (Tr. at 160-168). After
deliberating, the jury found Patton guilty of Grand Theft of
a Motor Vehicle. (Tr. at 190). The trial court sentenced
Patton to fifteen months of imprisonment, to be served
consecutively to his sentence for violating his post-release
control in a previous case. (Tr. at 194). In addition, the
trial court ordered Patton to pay $158.00 in restitution to
the victim. (Tr. at 195).
Assignments of Error
On appeal, Patton assigns the following assignments of error
for our review:
Assignment of Error I:
Prosecutorial misconduct denied Mr. Patton a fair trial and
due process of law. Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the
United States Constitution; Article I, Sections 6 and 10,
Ohio Constitution. (T.p. 177).
Assignment of Error II:
The trial court abused its discretion when it ordered Mr.
Patton to pay restitution. R.C. 2929.18 (T.p. ...