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State v. Miller

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Lake

July 29, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DONNA M. MILLER, Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal from the Lake County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2018 CR 000811.

          Charles E. Coulson, Lake County Prosecutor, and Jennifer A. McGee, Assistant Prosecutor, Lake County Administration Building, (For Plaintiff-Appellee).

          Cory R. Hinton, Hanahan & Hinton, LLC, (For Defendant-Appellant).

          OPINION

          MARY JANE TRAPP, J.

         {¶1} Appellant, Donna M. Miller ("Mrs. Miller"), appeals from the Lake County Court of Common Pleas judgment, which sentenced her to two concurrent 24-month terms of imprisonment after she pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted burglary. Her sentences were ordered to be served consecutive to other sentences imposed by courts in other counties.

         {¶2} Mrs. Miller raises one assignment of error, arguing that the trial court's sentence is contrary to law and an abuse of discretion based on the sentencing purposes and principles set forth in R.C. 2929.11.

         {¶3} After a thorough review of the record and relevant law, we affirm the judgment of the Lake County Court of Common Pleas. A review of the sentencing transcript and sentencing judgment entry reveals Mrs. Miller's sentence is not contrary to law. In imposing its sentence, the trial court clearly considered the purposes and principles of R.C. 2929.11 and R.C. 2929.12, specifically finding Mrs. Miller is a danger to the public because her crimes was part of a burglary crime spree throughout northeastern Ohio with numerous victims. The trial court ordered her sentence to be served consecutive to those she was already serving that arose from similar convictions in Geauga and Portage Counties because those sentences were not sufficient to protect the public from future crime and to reflect the seriousness of her criminal conduct, particularly in light of her criminal history.

         Substantive and Procedural History

         {¶4} On August 14, 2018, Mrs. Miller was secretly indicted on two counts of burglary, second-degree felonies in violation of R.C. 2911.12(A)(2), and two counts of theft, fifth-degree felonies in violation of R.C. 2913.02(A)(1).

         {¶5} Mrs. Miller's indictment arose from a crime spree that spanned several counties, including Lake, Geauga, and Portage. This particular case involved two burglaries in Lake County. Narrative supplement reports from the Madison Township Police Department ("MTPD") documented that on Thursday, January 5, 2016, the MTPD received a phone call from the Geauga County Sheriff's Office, Detective Bureau. They informed MTPD they had Mrs. Miller in custody for burglaries she committed in Geauga County and that Mrs. Miller had told them she committed burglaries in Madison Township, Ohio as well.

         {¶6} When MTPD detectives interviewed Mrs. Miller, she explained that she did not go into the houses but was the "get-away" driver for her husband, Raymond Miller, and her daughter, Rebecca Bunch. Mrs. Miller, who the detectives described as looking "dope sick" at the interview, agreed to drive with the detectives to the Madison area to identify the houses. Mrs. Miller admittedly stole a television stand, televisions, petty cash, change, jewelry, laptops, electronics, and a crossbow. She told the detectives that they sold the jewelry to pawnshops and that the "electronics went to drug dealers." She also explained she sold tools to businesses and other people that she knew needed them. She identified the two houses and the particular items she stole from each.

         {¶7} On November 19, 2018, Mrs. Miller reached a plea deal with the state and pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted burglary, third-degree felonies in violation of R.C. 2923.02 and R.C. 2911.12(A)(2). On the same day, the court accepted Mrs. Miller's plea and deferred sentencing until December 20, 2018.

         {¶8} At the sentencing hearing, Mrs. Miller and her counsel spoke on her behalf. Mrs. Miller expressed her remorse to the victims.

         {¶9} After questioning Mrs. Miller about her drug abuse and criminal history, including the most recent crime spree, the court considered the purposes and principles of felony sentencing set forth in R.C. 2929.11 and the seriousness and recidivism factors of R.C. 2929.12. The court found Mrs. Miller's conduct more serious because she caused psychological and economic harm to the victims and acted as part of an organized criminal activity. The court did not find any factors that would have made Mrs. Miller's crimes less serious. The court found recidivism more likely because of the number of Mrs. Miller's criminal convictions, two of ...


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