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State v. Cruzbaez

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton

June 21, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DAVID CRUZBAEZ, Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal From: Hamilton County Municipal Court TRIAL NO. C-18CRB-5231

          Joseph T. Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, and Ronald Springman, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Plaintiff-Appellee,

          Raymond T. Faller, Hamilton County Public Defender, and Sarah E. Nelson, Assistant Public Defender, for Defendant-Appellant.

          OPINION

          CROUSE, JUDGE

         {¶1} Appellant David Cruzbaez appeals from the municipal court's judgment finding him guilty of aggravated menacing and sentencing him to 180 days of community control suspended for 1 year, treatment if eligible, and a $2000 fine.

         {¶2} In two assignments of error, Cruzbaez argues the trial court erred in denying his motion for a judgment of acquittal because the state's evidence was insufficient to sustain a conviction and his conviction under R.C. 2903.21(A) was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. For the following reasons, we overrule Cruzbaez's assignments of error and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         Factual Background

         {¶3} One night, while Cruzbaez and his girlfriend, Cierra Waddell, were out on a date, Waddell complained to Cruzbaez that her roommate, Amber Tucker, was behind on her portion of the rent and the electric bill. Waddell, Tucker, and Tucker's 16-month-old daughter recently had moved into a townhouse together, and within two months, Tucker was unable to afford the rent and wanted to break the lease.

         {¶4} When the couple arrived at the townhouse around 10:30 p.m., Waddell collected the mail, which included the electric bill. She learned that the electric bill was two-months overdue and the electric would be cut off the next month if not paid. Waddell testified that this made her upset because she was struggling financially. Cruzbaez testified that he felt like this was the last straw and that Tucker was just using Waddell for money.

         {¶5} Cruzbaez and Waddell decided to wake up Tucker to talk about the situation, despite the fact that Tucker was already asleep in her bedroom. Tucker testified that Cruzbaez, "Came into my room, pulled me out of bed, kept yelling that we need to talk about the electric bill." After Cruzbaez left the room, Tucker got out of bed and walked next door to Waddell's room, where the couple was waiting.

         {¶6} According to Tucker, Cruzbaez "started screaming about the bills, how I needed to get out." During his testimony, Cruzbaez agreed that they did have raised voices back and forth.

         {¶7} Tucker left Waddell's room and walked past her own room to her daughter's room with Cruzbaez following her continuing to yell and scream. Tucker started packing to leave. She testified that she intended to leave so Cruzbaez would have time to sober up and they could resolve the situation when he was no longer intoxicated. Cruzbaez denied that he was intoxicated and testified that he only had one beer that night.

         {¶8} Cruzbaez returned to Waddell's room, which shared a wall with Tucker's room. It is unclear from the testimony whether he shut the door. Tucker testified, "While I was packing and that is when he made the statement that he had a 9mm gun in his car and I can call who I wanted. He'd shoot me and the baby, whoever I brought, and that's when I got my belongings and took them to the car." Tucker left with her daughter and called the police. She testified that she was scared and took Cruzbaez's statement as a threat because she did not know what he was capable of.

         {¶9} Cruzbaez and Waddell testified that Cruzbaez never threatened Tucker and he did not even own a gun. An officer who arrived on the scene testified that a gun was never ...


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