Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Muskingum
from the Muskingum County Court of Common Pleas, Case No.
Plaintiff-Appellee D. MICHAEL HADDOX MUSKINGUM CO. PROSECUTOR
TAYLOR P. BENNINGTON.
Defendant-Appellant: JAMES ANZELMO.
William B. Hoffman, P.J. Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, J. Hon.
Earle E. Wise, Jr., J.
Appellant Bryan K. Ross appeals from the June 12, 2018 Entry
of the Muskingum County Court of Common Pleas. Appellee is
the state of Ohio.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
This case arose in October 2017 when Jane Doe was beaten,
hog-tied, and terrorized by a group of people at her drug
dealer's residence on Grace Avenue in Muskingum County.
The following facts are adduced from the record of the trial
of co-defendants Thundercloud and Ross.
is beaten because she is a "snitch"
Jane Doe is an admitted chronic illegal drug user. She has
had periods of sobriety, but was heavily addicted in October
2017. She lost custody of both of her children. Her husband,
the father of the eldest child, died of a drug overdose.
"Josh" is the father of her youngest child and is
also a long-term drug abuser. Doe has numerous criminal
convictions and has frequently violated probation due to
"dirty" drug screens.
In October 2017, Doe's drugs of choice were heroin and
methamphetamine. She would alternate the two, using meth to
stay awake and sustain the high from the heroin. Doe freely
admits that during this period of her life, she spent all of
her time getting high, or finding money to get high, and
drugs were her only priority.
Her dealer was Darnell Vann, known on the street and referred
to at trial as "Smoke." Smoke had a house on Grace
Avenue and Doe went there several times a day, every day. The
house was usually full of people using heroin,
methamphetamine, crack, and cocaine. Sometimes Josh
accompanied Doe to Smoke's house to get high. Doe
admittedly stole from family members to get money for drugs.
Smoke would also give her lists of items to
"boost," or steal from stores, which she would
exchange for drugs.
The instant case relates back to an incident in 2014. In May
2014, Doe was at a house in Crooksville when a drug bust
occurred, resulting in the arrest of a dealer named T.J.
Murphy. Doe was a witness against Murphy at his ensuing
trial. In the wake of the trial, Doe and Josh occasionally
heard rumors that Murphy had "put a hit out" on
Life continued to spiral downward for Doe in the fall of
2017. She tested positive for fentanyl abuse and was arrested
for receiving stolen property. She violated probation and
lost custody of her children yet again. She was hospitalized
for six weeks due to a hole in her spleen from chronic drug
abuse. Nevertheless, upon her release from the hospital, she
immediately sought out Smoke to get high. Doe bounced between
living at Smoke's residence and with her parents in their
Once while Doe was at Smoke's, a woman recognized her and
told everyone in the house Doe "was the boys,"
meaning Doe was a police informant. Around this time Doe
learned Smoke knew T.J. Murphy and had communicated with him
about her whereabouts.
Doe still constantly went to Smoke's residence despite
Josh's renewed warnings that there was a "hit"
out on her. At one point, she talked to Smoke about the
threats and he told her there was nothing to worry about. He
suggested they could "stage" something where it
would appear Doe got "jumped." Everyone would
benefit because Murphy would pay Smoke and Doe "would
have the target off [her] back." Doe thought the staging
sounded like a good idea, but no plan was formulated and Doe
told Smoke they would have to discuss it further to figure
out the details.
On October 27 and 28, 2017, Doe went to Smoke's residence
to get high. There were several other people present. Among
these were Smoke; Thundercloud, known as
"Cherokee;" Ross, known as "Boone;" and
Heather Chandler. Also present was Byron Goodrich, who died
of an overdose before trial of the instant case.
Doe intended to spend the night at Smoke's because she
and Josh had fought. She used drugs and nodded off on the
couch in the living room. She awoke to someone punching her
in the face. At first Doe thought she was dreaming but became
terrified as she realized she was being beaten. She was
repeatedly punched and kicked, and was pulled off the couch
onto the floor. At first one person was beating her, then it
was several people. She felt a foot in her face. She tried to
cover herself and urinated on herself as the assault
continued. Finally, the beating stopped and someone told her
to stop screaming.
A gun was placed to the back of her head as she lay on the
floor, and she was told to crawl into the kitchen on her
hands and knees. Doe complied because she had no choice and
thought she was going to die. She was crying and in pain from
the beating, and heard people talking around her. Some
threatened to kill her; someone threatened to take her into
the basement to sodomize her. In the kitchen, she was
instructed to lay flat with her arms and legs outstretched,
and she was hog-tied with a spool of phone cord.
Appellee's Exhibit 1 is a cell phone video of the attack
as described by Doe.Heather Chandler approaches Doe as she is
asleep on the couch, and starts pummeling her. She drags Doe
onto the floor and the men join in, kicking Doe. Boone places
a gun to the back of Doe's head. Byron Goodrich films the
beating and can be heard repeatedly stating, "What a
beautiful day. Isn't it a beautiful day?" as Doe
screams and the others make threats. Smoke directs the action
and instructs Doe to crawl to the kitchen. Cherokee hog-ties
her with phone cord. Doe visibly urinates upon herself during
the course of the ordeal. The video stops after Doe is
Doe didn't know the assault was filmed until afterward.
Smoke untied her, gave her clean clothes, and told her to
clean herself up. He also gave her some "dope." Doe
followed his instructions and didn't leave the house
because she was afraid and because she wanted to get high.
After the assault, Doe was terrified and in pain. Her face
and sides were throbbing, her lips were split, and she could
barely speak. Her glasses were broken. She had blood on her
clothing. She didn't call the police or seek medical
attention because, as she testified, she learned her lesson
about talking. Doe unequivocally testified that she did not
agree to be assaulted or terrorized during this incident, nor
did she plan to be. She was hurt and terrified throughout the
assault and was not acting. She still suffers from ongoing
nightmares and constant fear.
Despite Doe's failure to report the incident, eventually
police sought her out. Police executed a search warrant on
Byron Goodrich's cell phone in an unrelated case and
found the video of the assault. Officers recognized the
interior of Smoke's residence and some of the people on
the video. Police tracked down Doe to find out what happened.
During the course of the investigation, Doe was threatened
repeatedly and police "put her somewhere safe," but
she willingly left the safe place to get high.
testimony of Smoke and Chandler
Smoke and Chandler testified for appellee as part of plea
bargains in their own cases. Their versions of the attack
largely matched Doe's and filled in additional details.
Smoke learned Doe "snitched" against Murphy and
spoke to Murphy about Doe's whereabouts. Murphy told him
to beat Doe. Smoke intended to comply with Murphy's
request to get paid. He planned to make a fake video because
he didn't want Doe to get seriously hurt. He thus
intended to have a female "jump" Doe and to film
the assault to show to Murphy. Smoke acknowledged he
mentioned this plan to Doe a few weeks ...