Criminal Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2018
Plaintiff-Appellee JOHN D. FERRERO PROSECUTING ATTORNEY
KRISTINE W. BEARD ASSISTANT PROSECUTOR
Defendant-Appellant BERNARD L. HUNT
JUDGES: Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P. J. Hon. John W. Wise, J. Hon.
Patricia A. Delaney, J.
Defendant-Appellant Aaron A. Hampton appeals from his felony
conviction, in the Court of Common Pleas, Stark County, on
one count of domestic violence. Appellee is the State of
Ohio. The relevant facts leading to this appeal are as
On April 14, 2018, Officer Jennifer Henderson of the Canton
Police Department was dispatched to a Gas City gas station
located at 216 Roland Avenue NE. She thereupon took a report
that appellant's girlfriend, R.P., had been physically
assaulted. Shortly thereafter, the officer interviewed R.P.
at Mercy Hospital.
On April 17, 2018, appellant was arrested, and on the next
day appeared in the Canton Municipal Court with appointed
counsel for arraignment. At that time, he entered a plea of
not guilty. He was also advised that the municipal court had
issued a no contact order regarding R.P.
Following a preliminary hearing in the municipal court on
April 26, 2018, appellant was bound over to the Stark County
Court of Common Pleas (hereinafter "trial court").
On or about May 31, 2018, the matter was presented to the
Stark County Grand Jury. The victim, R.P., appeared and
testified at that time. Appellant was thereupon indicted on
one count of domestic violence, R.C. 2919.25(A), with two or
more prior convictions, a third-degree felony.
The trial court subsequently set the case for a final
pretrial on June 20, 2018, with a trial date of July 3, 2018.
On June 22, 2018, in violation of the aforementioned no
contact order, appellant called R.P. via telephone from the
Stark County Jail. The phone call was recorded and saved by
the Sheriffs Office.
On June 29, 2018, the State filed a notice of intent to use
evidence (citing Evid.R. 804(B)(6)) and a motion to continue
the scheduled July 3rd trial. On July 2, 2018, the trial
court filed a hearing disposition sheet indicating that the
trial would be continued, with an entry to that effect to
On July 3, 2018, the court held a hearing on the State's
aforesaid motions. The State maintained that a continuance
was necessary based on newly discovered evidence, including
appellant's jail phone call to R. P. on June 22, 2018,
which likely made the victim unavailable for trial, and
certain records from Mercy Medical Center which included
photos and the name of a potential witness. Reference was
also made to a police bodycam video of the statements made by
R.P. to law enforcement at Mercy Medical Center, although a
copy thereof had been apparently received by defense counsel
previously. See Discovery Receipt, June 13, 2018
(Docket Number 13). Over defense counsel's objection, the
State's request for a continuance was granted, and the
jury trial was re-set for July 17, 2018.
On July 16, 2018, appellant filed a motion to dismiss on
speedy trial grounds, which was denied. See Tr. at
The State called two witnesses on July 17, 2018: Officer
Henderson of the Canton Police Department and Deputy Mark
Hood of the Stark County Sheriff's Department. The
victim, R.P., did not show up for the trial.
Officer Henderson recalled that when she arrived at Gas City
on the afternoon of April 14, 2018, she learned that R.P. had
already been taken to Mercy Medical Center. Tr. at 164. The
officer conducted some of her investigation at the scene, and
then proceeded to Mercy, about ten minutes away. Id.
Speaking with R.P. at the hospital, Henderson observed that
R.P. was "extremely shaken" and crying.
Id. She was also, at least initially, "hard to
understand because of being upset." Id. R.P.
displayed signs of physical injury in the form of dried blood
on her lip, visible red marks on her neck, and scraping to
one of her knees. Tr. at 167-168. After more investigation,
Henderson "learned that [appellant] and the victim had
resided together at the victim's address." Tr. at
169. The conversation between Henderson and R.P. was captured
on the officer's bodycam.
The remaining witness called by the State, Deputy Hood, who
is assigned to the inmate services unit, testified that
appellant had called R.P. from a jail telephone on the
afternoon of June 22, 2018. The audio of the call was then
played for the jury over appellant's objection. Tr. at
During the jail call, R.P. can be heard telling appellant
that she wanted to come to the trial just to have an
opportunity to see him at the courthouse. Appellant then told
R.P. that if she does not show up for the trial, he won't
have to "fight" the charge and she would be able to
see him. R.P. then stated her intention not to show up for
trial. State's Exhibit 4 (played for the jury at Tr.
After the presentation of the State's evidence, appellant
made a Crim.R. 29 motion for acquittal, essentially arguing
that the State had not proven that appellant was a
"family or household member for purposes of the domestic
violence statute. Said motion was overruled by the trial
court. Tr. at 215-216.
The jury thereafter deliberated and found appellant guilty as
charged in the indictment.
The trial court, following a hearing on July 23, 2018,
sentenced appellant inter alia to 36 months in
On August 20, 2018, appellant filed a notice of appeal. He
herein raises the following three Assignments of Error:
"I. THE TRIAL COURT VIOLATED THE DEFENDANT'S RIGHT
UNDER THE SIXTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION
AND THE OHIO CONSTITUTION IN SECTION 10, ARTICLE I.
"II. THE TRIAL COURT'S FINDING OF GUILT WAS AGAINST
THE MANIFEST WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE AND WAS NOT ...