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State v. Zolman

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Knox

July 1, 2019

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
MISTY ZOLMAN Defendant-Appellant

          Appeal from the Mount Vernon Municipal Court, Case No. 18CRB00518

          For Plaintiff-Appellee P. ROBERT BROEREN, JR. City of Mount Vernon Law Director

          For Defendant-Appellant TONIA R. WELKER Welker Law LLC

          JUDGES: Hon. William B. Hoffman, P.J Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J. Hon. Earle E. Wise, Jr., J.

          OPINION

          HOFFMAN, P.J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Misty Zolman appeals her conviction and sentence entered by the Mount Vernon Municipal Court on one count of failure to register a dangerous dog, following a jury trial. Plaintiff-appellee is the state of Ohio.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE AND FACTS

         {¶2} On May 1, 2018, Appellant was cited for failing to register a dangerous dog, in violation of R.C. 955.22. Appellant appeared before the trial court on 2018, and entered a plea of not guilty to the charge. The matter proceeded to jury trial on October 11, 2018.

         {¶3} The following evidence was adduced at trial.

         {¶4} The Knox County Dog Warden designated Appellant's German Shepherd dog, "Raven", a "dangerous dog" pursuant to R.C. 955.11, after a January 12, 2017 incident during which the dog broke through a screen door, and attacked and bit Mount Vernon Police Officer Sargent Robert Kit Morgan on the leg. Dog Warden John Carhart served Appellant with a Notice of Designation on January 23, 2017. Appellant signed for the Notice.

         {¶5} Appellant filed an appeal of the designation. The trial court dismissed the appeal because Appellant failed to pay the filing fee. Thereafter, Appellant had 31 days in which to comply with the stipulations of owning a dangerous dog. The Dog Warden made several attempts to meet with Appellant, but was unsuccessful. Appellant never obtained a "dangerous dog" tag for Raven.

         {¶6} On May 1, 2018, Knox County Deputy Dog Warden Brian Biggerstaff observed Appellant and Raven outside her residence at 2 Vanatta Street, Mount Vernon, Ohio. Officer Biggerstaff recorded a video of Appellant and the dog with his cell phone. He made contact with Appellant, who informed him she had given Raven to Marc McClure, a resident of Colorado, who had brought the dog to see her before she went to jail for 60 days. Appellant would not provide the officer with McClure's phone number, stating McClure would contact the animal shelter. Appellant then told Officer Biggerstaff she wished they would leave her alone, went inside, and shut the door.

         {¶7} Later that day, the officer returned to Appellant's residence and cited her for failing to obtain a dangerous dog registration certificate. Appellant refused to accept the summons, indicating she no longer owned the dog. Appellant walked away from the officer, who followed her to the back of the house. Officer Biggerstaff informed Appellant of her court date and again requested McClure's contact information. Appellant refused and told Officer Biggerstaff McClure would contact the shelter. Appellant then told the officer "to leave her the F alone." The officer stated neither Appellant nor anyone else had filed a transfer of possession of the dog. The dog died prior to trial.

         {¶8} Appellant testified she transferred ownership of Raven to her friend, Marc McClure, in September, 2017. In late April, 2018, McClure, who was in the Air Force, came to Ohio to visit his father. McClure brought Raven with him. On May 1, 2018, Appellant was watching Raven while McClure was in Cleveland. Appellant stated she informed Officer Biggerstaff the dog was only with her for the day. She showed the officer text messages from McClure establishing he was in Ohio. Appellant indicated she never received information advising her of her duty to report the transfer of the "dangerous ...


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