Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Portage
Criminal Appeal from the Portage County Court of Common
Pleas, Case No. 2018 CR 00104.
V. Vigluicci, Portage County Prosecutor, (For
Wells, (For Defendant-Appellant).
JANE TRAPP, J.
Appellant, Rickey D. Middleton, Jr. ("Mr.
Middleton"), appeals from the judgment of the Portage
County Court of Common Pleas, which sentenced him to a
17-month term of imprisonment following his written plea of
guilty to one count of domestic violence, a fourth degree
felony, in violation of R.C. 2919.25.
Mr. Middleton was appointed counsel for appellate purposes by
the trial court, but due to counsel's failure to follow
through with the appointment, the trial court removed him and
appointed new appellate counsel.
Mr. Middleton's new counsel perfected the appeal in this
case but filed a motion to withdraw on the basis that Mr.
Middleton's appeal was frivolous. His motion was
accompanied by an "Anders brief in accordance
with the Supreme Court of the United States' decision inf
Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967). In his
Anders brief, counsel set forth two potential
assignments of error: (1) whether the trial court erred by
allowing the victim's husband to speak for her at the
sentencing hearing, and (2) whether the trial court abused
its discretion by sentencing Mr. Middleton to the nearly
maximum term of imprisonment permitted for a fourth degree
felony. Mr. Middleton's counsel properly certified that a
copy of the Anders brief was sent to Mr. Middleton
with instructions, so Mr. Middleton could file his own brief
if he so chose.
We then issued an order, giving Mr. Middleton 30 days to file
a submission to raise any arguments in support of his appeal.
No further briefing was filed. Further, we held his
counsel's motion to withdraw in abeyance until our
After a thorough and independent review of the record and all
proceedings, we find appellate counsel's potential
assignments of error without merit because the victim was
statutorily entitled to have a representative speak for her
at the sentencing hearing, and Mr. Middleton's sentence
is supported by the evidence and not contrary to law. As
there are no legal points on the merits of this case, we
decline to appoint new counsel, and counsel's motion to
withdraw is granted. The judgment of the Portage County Court
of Common Pleas is affirmed.
and Procedural History
Per the presentence investigation, on January 28, 2018, the
police responded to 1536 Benjamin Court for a noise complaint
with the resident, Sunny Hawkins. Ms. Hawkins passed the
police notes that said, "help, there's someone else
in the house," and "warrants." The
"someone" was later identified as her live-in
boyfriend, Mr. Middleton. The officers observed that Ms.
Hawkins was visibly nervous and upset, and she disclosed she
had been abused by Mr. Middleton on December 24, 2017.
The investigation revealed that after an argument, Mr.
Middleton threw her to the ground. She got up, and he shoved
her back down. He got on top of her from behind, pressing her
neck into the ground. She rolled over and he began choking
her to the point she could not breath. Ms. Hawkins showed the
police photographs from the incident and provided a written
statement. The police arrested Mr. Middleton and he remained
in jail until his sentencing hearing on April 9, 2018.
On February 28, 2018, the court held a discovery/change of
plea hearing. After engaging in a colloquy with Mr.
Middleton, the court accepted Mr. Middleton's plea of
guilty to one count of domestic violence, a felony of the
fourth degree. The court further ordered an expedited
presentence investigation and continued bond.
A little over a month later, on April 9, 2018, the court held
a sentencing hearing. The state stayed silent as to a
sentence recommendation. The court considered Ms.
Hawkins's victim impact statement, and Ms. Hawkins's
representative, Jack Hawkins, her estranged ex-husband, spoke
on her behalf. Mr. Hawkins told the court that his children
(with Ms. Hawkins) are in fear for their mother's safety
and that Mr. Middleton told Ms. Hawkins he will be