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State v. Cox

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Warren

July 29, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Appellee,
BENJAMIN T. COX, Appellant.


          David Fornshell, Warren County Prosecuting Attorney, Kirsten A. Brandt, for appellee

          Craig A. Newburger, for appellant


          RINGLAND, P.J.

         {¶ 1} Appellant, Benjamin Cox, appeals the sentencing decision of the Warren County Court of Common Pleas. For the reasons detailed below, we affirm in part, reverse in part and remand this matter to the trial court for the limited purpose of issuing a nunc pro tunc sentencing entry.

         {¶ 2} During the relevant time period, Cox was married, but separated from his estranged wife, Angela Cox, and there was a court order prohibiting Cox from having contact with Angela.

         {¶ 3} On September 5, 2017, Cox violated the court order by sending Angela text messages and by calling her telephone. Angela responded by informing Cox that she was not having a good day because her car was having mechanical problems. Cox then drove to Angela's house, pushed his way in, and demanded to see his sons, E.C. and D.C. Cox remained at the house until Angela left to pick up E.C. from school.

         {¶ 4} As Angela was driving, she began experiencing car trouble again, so she proceeded to the AutoZone in Franklin, Ohio and parked in the parking lot. Angela went inside the store, purchased a new alternator, and was able to successfully get her car started again. However, before Angela could leave, Cox managed to track her down and parked his motorcycle in front of her car to prevent her from leaving. Because Cox would not let her leave, Angela was forced to call for a ride home.

         {¶ 5} Upon arriving home, Angela called her boyfriend, Justin Turner, and asked him to take her to her car. Approximately one hour later, Turner picked up Angela, along with 17-month old D.C, and drove them back to AutoZone.

         {¶ 6} When Turner exited his truck, he observed that Cox was hanging around the nearby Circle K. Cox then quickly approached Turner on foot and yelled at him to stay away from Angela's car. As Cox approached, he told Turner that he was "a dead man" and then pulled out his loaded .38 revolver from the back of his pants and stuck it to Turner's chest. Turner put his hands in the air and yelled that Cox had a firearm. From inside Turner's truck, Angela called 911 and laid the phone on her lap so the operator could hear the altercation.

         {¶ 7} Cox then put the .38 revolver back in his pants and exchanged words with Turner. Cox then shoved Turner and went after Angela. Cox forced the passenger door of the truck open, told her to get off the phone, grabbed the phone, broke it in half, and then threw it at Turner. Cox then attempted to pull Angela from the truck. When Turner tried to stop the attack, Cox pulled his .38 revolver back out of his pants, stuck it to Turner's chest a second time, and again warned him that he was a "dead man." Believing that Cox was going to shoot him, Turner threw up his arms, stepped back, and yelled that Cox had a firearm.

         {¶ 8} At this point, a bystander at a nearby restaurant shouted that she had called the police. Cox then pulled out a knife and tried to slash Turner's truck tires. Thereafter, Cox walked back to his motorcycle and parked it behind Turner's truck. Cox then pulled out a pen and told Turner that he was writing down the truck's license plate so that he could track him down and kill him. This entire altercation occurred while 17-month-old D.C. was seated nearby in Turner's truck.

         {¶ 9} When Turner heard police sirens, he told Cox that he was going to jail. Cox then attempted to flee, but police arrived and wrestled him off the motorcycle before he could leave the parking lot. The police disarmed Cox and placed him under arrest. Cox's firearm was loaded with five rounds and was tucked inside his waistband even though his concealed carry license was suspended. The firearm was later test fired and determined to be operable.

         {¶ 10} On October 9, 2017, Cox was indicted on three felony counts and two misdemeanor counts. The case was tried to the bench on May 29, 2018. The trial court found Cox guilty of: carrying a concealed weapon, disrupting public services with a firearm specification, obstructing official business with a firearm specification, and aggravated menacing. The trial court found Cox not guilty of child endangering. The trial court sentenced Cox to a three-year prison term, imposing consecutive terms of 12 months for carrying a concealed weapon, obstruction of official business, and for the accompanying firearm ...

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