Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Grimm

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Clermont

July 22, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Appellee,
v.
JASON ROBERT GRIMM, Appellant.

          CRIMINAL APPEAL FROM CLERMONT COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No. 2018-CR-000074

          D. Vincent Faris, Nicholas A. Horton, for appellee

          Stagnaro, Hannigan & Koop, Michaela M. Stagnaro, for appellant

          OPINION

          S. POWELL, P.J.

         {¶ 1} Appellant, Jason Robert Grimm, appeals his conviction in the Clermont County Court of Common Pleas after a jury found him guilty of one count of domestic violence. Grimm also appeals the trial court's decision sentencing him to serve a mandatory 15-month prison term. For the reasons outlined below, we affirm.

         {¶ 2} On January 25, 2018, the Clermont County Grand Jury returned an indictment charging Grimm with domestic violence in violation of R.C. 2919.25(A). Due to Grimm's prior domestic violence conviction, the offense was charged as a fourth-degree felony pursuant to R.C. 2919.25(D)(3). The charge arose after it was alleged Grimm caused physical harm to the victim, B.J., his then seven-months-pregnant girlfriend. Because there could be no dispute that Grimm knew B.J. was pregnant when the alleged domestic violence incident occurred, the offense carried with it a mandatory term of "at least" six months in prison in accordance with R.C. 2919.25(D)(6)(a).

         {¶ 3} On August 28 and 29, 2018, the matter proceeded to a two-day jury trial. During trial, the jury heard testimony from several witnesses. These witnesses included B.J., Officer Geremy Grooms of the Union Township Police Department, and the two nurses who treated B.J. for her injuries, Angela Gonzalez and Judith Faessler. Neither Grimm nor any other witness testified in Grimm's defense.

         {¶ 4} As part of her testimony, B.J. testified that Grimm "busted" her lip, picked her up by her neck, and slammed her into the wall of their apartment after she and Grimm returned home from a festival held in Cincinnati. This caused B.J.'s left side of her body and pregnant belly to go through the wall and leave an imprint. After slamming B.J. into the wall, Grimm then strangled B.J. and struck her in the face and ribs. Grimm's attack eventually stopped after B.J. was able to retrieve her cell phone and call the police Upon learning B.J. had called the police, Grimm fled the scene and drove to his mother's house. Photographs and a short video recording depicting Grimm aggressively coming toward B.J. followed by several smacking sounds corroborates B.J.'s testimony.[1]

         {¶ 5} After both parties rested, the trial court provided its final instructions to the jury. This included an instruction on flight as evidence of Grimm's consciousness of guilt. Following deliberations, the jury returned a verdict finding Grimm guilty as charged. The trial court then sentenced Grimm to serve a mandatory 15-month prison term. The trial court issued its sentencing decision after considering the principles and purposes of felony sentencing as set forth in R.C. 2929.11 and the serious and recidivism factors listed in R.C. 2929.12. This is confirmed by the sentencing hearing transcript and the trial court's sentencing entry, wherein the trial court specifically stated that it had reviewed and considered both statutes prior to issuing its sentencing decision.

         {¶ 6} Grimm now appeals his conviction and sentence, raising six assignments of error for review.

         {¶ 7} Assignment of Error No. 1:

         {¶ 8} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED AS A MATTER OF LAW BY ALLOWING THE STATE TO INTRODUCE HEARSAY STATEMENTS WHICH VIOLATED APPELLANT'S RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL.

         {¶ 9} In his first assignment of error, Grimm argues the trial court erred by admitting several alleged hearsay statements from Officer Grooms at trial. Grimm also argues the trial court erred by admitting other alleged hearsay statements from nurses Gonzales and Faessler. Grimm acknowledges that he objected to only "some" of these challenged statements, thereby waiving all but plain error as to those statements to which he did not object. But, even when applying an abuse of discretion standard of review, we find no merit to any of Grimm's arguments raised herein.

         {¶ 10} When properly objected to, this court reviews a trial court's decision to admit or exclude evidence under an abuse of discretion standard. State v. Gerde, 12th Dist. Clermont No. CA2016-11-077, 2017-Ohio-7464, ¶ 8. An abuse of discretion connotes more than an error of law or judgment; it implies the trial court's decision was unreasonable, arbitrary, or unconscionable. State v. Grindstaff, 12th Dist. Clermont No. CA2013-09-074, 2014-Ohio-2581, ¶ 21. A decision is unreasonable when it is "unsupported by a sound reasoning process." State v. Abdullah, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 07AP-427, 2007-Ohio-7010, ¶ 16, citing AAAA Ents., Inc. v. River Place Community Urban Redevelopment Corp., 50 Ohio St.3d 157, 161 (1990). This court "should not disturb evidentiary decisions in the absence of an abuse of discretion that has created material prejudice." State v. Boles, 12th Dist. Brown No. CA2012-06-012, 2013-Ohio-5202, ¶ 14, citing State v. Smith, 12th Dist. Fayette No. CA2007-10-035, 2008-Ohio-5931, ¶ 33.

         {¶ 11} Grimm initially argues the trial court erred by permitting Officer Grooms to testify as to B.J.'s statements to him at the scene approximately five minutes after she called the police. However, contrary to Grimm's claim, B.J.'s statements to Officer Grooms fall squarely within the excited utterance exception to the hearsay rule. Pursuant to Evid.R. 803(2), a hearsay statement is admissible as an excited utterance if: "(1) there was an event startling enough to produce a nervous excitement in the declarant; (2) the statement was made while under the stress of excitement caused by the event; (3) the statement related to the startling event; and (4) the declarant must have had an opportunity to personally observe the startling event." State v. Worth, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 10AP1125, 2012-Ohio-666, ¶ 22, citing State v. Taylor, 66 Ohio St.3d 295, 300-301 (1993). Given Officer Grooms' testimony that B.J. was "very emotional," "clearly upset," crying, scared, red in the face, and exhibiting signs that she "had been in an altercation," the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting Officer Grooms' challenged testimony in accordance with Evid.R. 803(2). Grimm's claim otherwise lacks merit.

         {¶ 12} Also lacking merit are Grimm's claims the trial court erred by permitting nurses Gonzalez and Faessler to testify regarding B.J.'s statements she made to them at the hospital while seeking treatment for herself and her unborn baby. Again, contrary to Grimm's claim, the vast majority of B.J.'s statements made to nurses Gonzalez and Faessler fall well within the "medical treatment" exception to the hearsay rule under Evid.R. 803(4). Pursuant to that rule, an exception exists for "[statements made for purposes of medical diagnosis or treatment and describing medical history, or past or present symptoms, pain, or sensations, or the inception or general character of the cause or external source thereof insofar as reasonably pertinent to diagnosis or treatment." "A fundamental assumption underlying the medical-treatment exception is that this particular hearsay is reliable." State v. Wagers, 12th Dist. Preble No. CA2009-06-018, 2010-Ohio-2311, ¶ 51. This exception applies even to statements made to psychological caregivers, therapists, and social workers. State v. Muttart, 116 Ohio St.3d 5, 2007-Ohio-5267, ¶ 56.

         {¶ 13} The only questionable statement would be B.J.'s statements to nurses Gonzalez and Faessler naming Grimm as her attacker. However, while a question may exist as to the admissibility of this testimony, B.J. specifically testified that it was Grimm who caused her injuries. The record also contains a short video recording depicting Grimm aggressively coming toward B.J. followed by several smacking sounds. This evidence alleviates any doubt as to the identity of B.J.'s alleged attacker, thereby rendering any error the trial court may have made by admitting this evidence, at worst, harmless. "A reviewing court properly finds the erroneous admission of evidence harmless error where there is overwhelming evidence of guilt or some other indicia the error did not contribute to the conviction." State v. Rowley, 12th Dist. Clinton No. CA2016-10-019, 2017-Ohio-5850, ¶ 24, citing State v. Pottorf, 12th Dist. Warren No. CA2014-03-046, 2014-Ohio-5399, ¶ 20. Therefore, finding no merit to any of the arguments raised herein, Grimm's first assignment of error is overruled.

         {¶ 14} Assignment of Error No. 2:

         {¶ 15} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED AS A MATTER OF LAW BY PERMITTING OTHER ACTS TESTIMONY INTO EVIDENCE THUS ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.