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State v. Mitchell

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

June 21, 2019

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
AARON MITCHELL Defendant-Appellant

          Criminal Appeal from Common Pleas Court Trial Court Case No. 2018-CR-4586

          MATHIAS H. HECK, JR., BY MICHAEL J. SCARPELLI, ATTY., ASSISTANT PROSECUTING ATTORNEY, MONTGOMERY COUNTY PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE, APPELLATE DIVISION, MONTGOMERY COUNTY COURTS BUILDING ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

          DANIEL B. RHODES, ATTY. ASSISTANT PUBLIC DEFENDER, ATTORNEY FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

          OPINION

          WELBAUM, P.J.

         {¶ 1} Aaron Mitchell appeals from a judgment sustaining the State of Ohio's motion for no bond. According to Mitchell, the trial court abused its discretion because the State failed to establish the required factors in R.C. 2937.222 by clear and convincing evidence.

         {¶ 2} We conclude that the trial court did not err in requiring that Mitchell be held without bond. Ample evidence supported the court's findings that Mitchell posed a substantial risk of serious physical harm to police officers and the community and that no conditions of release would reasonably assure their safety. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court will be affirmed.

         I. Facts and Course of Proceedings

         {¶ 3} On November 30, 2018, Clay Township Patrol Sergeant James Hawkins was in a meeting with the police chief at the police station on Arlington Road in Clay Township, Ohio. The building housed administrative offices as well as the police station. During the meeting, Hawkins and the chief heard seven to ten shots being fired outside the building. At that point, Hawkins exited the building from the north door, which was the exit and entrance that the police used. The door was recessed about a foot, and Hawkins used that for cover. As he exited, he saw a black Pontiac Fiero automobile stopped on Arlington Road in the northbound lane. A male (later identified as Mitchell), was in the Fiero, with a rifle sitting on the open side door of the car. When Hawkins screamed at him to drop the gun, Mitchell fired shots.

         {¶ 4} Hawkins continued to scream at Mitchell to drop the gun, but Mitchell flipped him off, revved his engine, and began to travel north on Arlington Road. A chase then ensued, which involved Hawkins and officers from other jurisdictions. During the chase, Mitchell drove more than 80 miles per hour at times, ran two stop signs, and drove through spike strips. He was then stopped in the intersection of Diamond Mill Road and Kimmel Road, in Montgomery County, Ohio. When the chase was approaching the spike strips, another officer radioed that Mitchell had a brown assault rifle in his lap.

         {¶ 5} After the stop, Hawkins exited his vehicle and began screaming, "Show me your hands, show me your hands." Transcript of Proceedings ("Tr.") at p. 20. Hawkins saw the barrel of the rifle come up and screamed "gun" to alert the other officers. He then began screaming at Mitchell to drop the gun. At that point, Mitchell opened the car door and flipped off the officers. Mitchell then placed his foot out of the door, put his left hand on the barrel of the rifle, and began to exit his car. As Mitchell grabbed the barrel and rotated out of the car, the barrel came in Hawkins' direction and toward the other officers at the scene. Because Hawkins believed Mitchell was going to cause serious physical harm or kill the officers, he fired. Mitchell then threw the gun out of the car, and a trooper approached the car with a ballistic shield.

         {¶ 6} Although Mitchell had been given commands to exit the car, he did not do so; as a result, Hawkins holstered his firearm and removed Mitchell from the car. When Mitchell was removed, he had an open can of Bud Ice in his hand. Mitchell had been shot multiple times and was transported to the hospital.

         {¶ 7} During the incident, Mitchell used a 4095 High Point rifle, which had a magazine that contained 8 rounds. The magazine for that rifle can hold 10 rounds. A subsequent search of Mitchell's car uncovered an empty magazine for the rifle and shell casings on the vehicle's floorboard.

         {¶ 8} Mitchell was initially arraigned in municipal court, where a bond of $150, 000 was set. Subsequently, on December 13, 2018, an indictment was filed in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, charging Mitchell with five counts: (1) felonious assault (police officer - deadly weapon), in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(2), a first degree felony, with firearm specifications of seven years (discharging at officer), five years, and three years; (2) discharge of a firearm on or near prohibited premises (serious physical harm) in violation of R.C. 2923.162(A)(3), a third-degree felony, with a three-year firearm specification; (3) failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer (serious physical harm), in violation of R.C. 2921.331(B) and (C)(5), a third-degree felony; (4) failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer (fleeing felony), in violation of R.C. 2921.331(B) and (C)(4), a fourth-degree felony; and (5) felonious assault (police officer - deadly weapon) in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A(2), a first degree felony, with a three-year firearm specification.

         {¶ 9} Following the indictment, the trial court continued the prior bond. Mitchell remained in jail until January 8, 2019, when his father posted the $150, 000 bond. Shortly thereafter, on January 11, 2019, the State filed a motion for no bond. Alternatively, the State asked the court to increase the bond to $1, 000, 000. The court then set a hearing for January 16, 2019, and ordered that Mitchell be taken into custody and detained in jail until the ruling on the motion.

         {¶ 10} On January 16 and 17, 2019, the court held hearings, during which the State and Mitchell both presented evidence. The court then issued an order on January 18, 2019, granting the State's motion for no bond. Mitchell timely appealed from the court's order.

         II. Alleged Abuse of Discretion in Granting No Bond Motion

         {¶ 11} Mitchell's sole assignment of error is as follows:

         The Trial Court Abused Its Discretion in Deciding to Hold Defendant-Appellant Without Bond Because the State Failed to Establish the Enumerated Factors of R.C. 2937.222 by Clear and Convincing Evidence.

         {¶ 12} According to Mitchell, the trial court erred by failing to consider legitimate issues about the most serious charges, which would significantly reduce his potential prison sentence. He further contends that he does not pose a risk of substantial harm to the community and that conditions of release exist that will reasonably assure the community's safety.

         {¶ 13} In this case, the State's motion was made pursuant to R.C. 2937.222. The statute provides, as pertinent here, that "[o]n the motion of the prosecuting attorney or on the judge's own motion, the judge shall hold a hearing to determine whether an accused person charged with * * * a ...


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