APPEALS from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, No.
O'Brien, Prosecuting Attorney, and Sheryl L. Prichard,
W. Barstow, for appellant.
1} Defendant-appellant, Kurt A. Flood, appeals from
a judgment entry of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas
finding him guilty, pursuant to jury verdict, of murder,
tampering with evidence, and gross abuse of a corpse. He
additionally appeals from an amended judgment entry of the
Franklin County Court of Common Pleas sentencing him to an
aggregate sentence of 19 years to life in prison. For the
following reasons, we affirm in part and reverse in part.
Facts and Procedural History
2} By indictment filed March 30, 2015,
plaintiff-appellee, State of Ohio, charged Flood with one
count of murder in violation of R.C. 2903.02, an unclassified
felony; one count of felonious assault in violation of R.C.
2903.11, a second-degree felony; one count of endangering
children in violation of R.C. 2919.22, a second-degree
felony; one count of tampering with evidence in violation of
R.C. 2921.12, a third-degree felony; and one count of gross
abuse of a corpse in violation of R.C. 2927.01, a
fifth-degree felony. The charges related to the death of C.B.
Flood entered a plea of not guilty.
3} At a jury trial beginning February 6, 2018, Shane
Howard, an officer with the Columbus Division of Police,
testified that on December 29, 2014 he responded to a police
dispatch to a report of a missing child at the Logan's
Steakhouse near Easton Town Centre. Officer Howard testified
that upon arriving at Logan's Steakhouse, he encountered
Dainesha Stevens who informed him that she could not locate
her six-year-old daughter, Ch.B. Stevens told Officer Howard
that she had been staying with a friend, Flood, and that she
believed her daughter was with one of Flood's friends.
After Stevens provided police officers with a phone number of
the friend, the officers were able to use a police database
to determine an address associated with the phone number.
Officers went to the address, located Ch.B., and placed her
in the custody of Franklin County Children's Services.
4} Before police located Ch.B., Stevens also
provided the officers with Flood's telephone number and
the telephone number of Ch.B.'s father, who lived in
Frederick, Maryland. When police called Ch.B.'s father,
he informed them that he had contacted the Frederick Police
Department about his two missing children. After the officers
verified the father's report with the Frederick Police
Department, the officers confronted Stevens with the
existence of a second child, a 14-month-old baby named C.B.
Stevens told the officers that she and Flood had no heat or
electricity so she had dropped C.B. on the doorstep of a
random house. Though she initially maintained her story about
leaving C.B. on a random doorstep, Stevens changed her story
a few days later, executing a defendant's agreement
pursuant to which she testified on behalf of the state at
5} Stevens testified that Flood urged her to come to
Columbus from Maryland to escape an abusive relationship with
Ch.B. and C.B.'s father. She arrived in Columbus around
December 15, 2014 and moved in with Flood. Stevens testified
that Flood became increasingly frustrated with having young
children in the house, stating that Flood believed C.B. was
possessed by a demon and often urged Stevens to discipline
him. Stevens admitted to disciplining C.B., but she testified
she only "popped him" on the buttocks with her hand
and never left any marks on him. (Tr. Vol. 2 at 276.)
However, Stevens said she witnessed Flood hit C.B. with his
hands, a belt, and a stick.
6} According to Stevens' testimony, sometime
around December 24, 2014, Flood convinced her to send Ch.B.
to his friend's house. That evening, Stevens said Flood
severely beat C.B. on his stomach and buttocks before C.B.
went to bed. The next day, Stevens said C.B. was sluggish and
would not breastfeed. Stevens said she noticed his feet had
turned purple. The following day, December 26, 2014, Flood
found C.B. stiff and cold in his bed. Stevens testified that
she and Flood attempted CPR and tried to place him in a cold
bathtub to revive him, but they realized he had died.
7} Stevens testified she wanted C.B. to be buried,
so she and Flood initially placed C.B.'s body in a small
box but the box was not big enough. Next, Stevens said she
and Flood placed C.B.'s body in a plastic grocery bag and
then inside a backpack, and Stevens and Flood then walked
around with the backpack trying to decide where to dispose of
the body. They attempted to bury the backpack but the ground
was frozen. Ultimately, Stevens said she and Flood decided to
throw C.B.'s body into Big Walnut Creek which was near
Flood's home. Stevens said they waited until it was dark
and then rode bicycles, with the backpack in tow, to a wooded
area near the creek. At that point, Stevens said Flood
disappeared into the woods with the backpack and returned a
few minutes later without it. Stevens said that Flood told
her that he had thrown the backpack into the water.
8} After disposing of C.B.'s body, Stevens said
that C.B. and Ch.B.'s father continued to call her
demanding to speak to his children. Due to his frequent phone
calls, Stevens said she and Flood developed the random porch
story as an explanation for C.B.'s absence. Stevens did
ultimately admit to assaulting C.B.
9} On December 31, 2014, the Columbus Police dive
team located the backpack in Big Walnut Creek containing
C.B.'s frozen body. The Franklin County Coroner's
Officer determined C.B.'s cause of death was
"violence of undetermined origin," and that
homicide was the manner of death. (Tr. Vol. 1 at 244.)
10} Michae Evans, a friend of Flood's, testified
that Flood came to her home with Stevens after C.B. died.
Evans testified that Flood told her he had buried a body, and
that Flood confessed to her that he had hit a child, put him
to bed, and found him dead the next morning. At first, Evans
said she did not take Flood seriously because he was talking
about the children being possessed by demons. However, when
she saw on the news the next morning a story about a missing
baby boy, she feared Flood was being serious and called the
11} Flood testified in his own defense and denied
ever assaulting C.B. or Ch.B. Additionally, he denied ever
believing that either child was possessed by demons. He did
admit to disposing of C.B.'s body in Big Walnut Creek,
but he maintained that Stevens was the one who beat C.B. and
that disposing of the body was Stevens' idea.
12} At the conclusion of the trial, the jury
returned guilty verdicts on all five counts. The matter
proceeded to a sentencing hearing on February 22, 2018,
during which the trial court stated Flood's convictions
of felonious assault and endangering children would merge
with his conviction of murder. However, the trial court
declined to merge Flood's convictions of tampering with
evidence and gross abuse of a corpse, over Flood's
objections. The trial court then announced that it would
sentence Flood to 15 years to life on the murder conviction,
3 years on the tampering with evidence conviction, and 1 year
on the gross abuse of a corpse conviction, ordering the
sentences to run consecutively for an aggregate prison
sentence of 19 years to life. However, when the trial court
journalized Flood's convictions and sentence in a
February 23, 2018 judgment entry, the entry stated
Flood's sentences were to be served concurrent with each
other for an aggregate sentence of 15 years to life. Flood
timely appealed from the February 23, 2018 judgment entry.
13} While his appeal was pending from the February
23, 2018 judgment entry, the trial court issued an amended
judgment entry on September 20, 2018. The amended judgment
entry added an additional paragraph regarding the
requirements of R.C. 2929.14(C)(4) related to consecutive
sentences and stated, as the court did at the sentencing
hearing, that Flood's sentences are to be served
consecutive to each other for an aggregate sentence of 19