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. Pustelniak

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Lorain

August 26, 2019

STATE OF OHIO Appellee
v.
JOHN D. PUSTELNIAK Appellant

          APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF LORAIN, OHIO CASE Nos. 17CR097162 17CR097249

          APPEARANCES: GIOVANNA V. BREMKE, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          DENNIS P. WILL, Prosecuting Attorney, and BRIAN P. MURPHY, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          JENNIFFER HENSAL, JUDGE.

         {¶1} John Pustelniak appeals his convictions from the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas. The State of Ohio has cross-appealed his sentence. For the following reasons, this Court affirms as to Mr. Pustelniak's appeal and vacates his sentence in part as to the State's cross-appeal.

         I.

         {¶2} A North Ridgeville police officer ran the license plate of the vehicle in front of him and discovered that its registration had expired. He initiated a traffic stop, but as he was walking up to the vehicle, it drove away. He pursued the vehicle into the city of Avon, at which time he was told to stop his pursuit because they were approaching the location of a parade that was about to begin. The vehicle maneuvered around obstacles and began driving up the parade route. One of the officers stationed along the route got the vehicle to come to a stop, but the driver refused to comply with other commands and, after a few moments, accelerated away. Another officer pursued the vehicle, which diverted through the crowd when it reached a barrier at the other end of the parade route. Once the vehicle was clear of the parade route, the Avon police officer ended his pursuit. A little while later, however, a different North Ridgeville police officer spotted the vehicle at a gas station. He pursued it into the city of Elyria, where it crashed into a guardrail. By the time the officer reached the crash site, the driver had fled on foot into a nearby neighborhood. Officers eventually discovered Mr. Pustelniak beside a nearby river and arrested him after recognizing him as the driver of the vehicle. Officers also learned that the vehicle had been stolen earlier in the day.

         {¶3} The Grand Jury indicted Mr. Pustelniak on nine counts in case number 17CR097162, including four counts of failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer, two counts of obstructing official business, two counts of willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property, and one count of theft. It also indicted him on five counts in case number 17CR097249, including one count of assault, one count of inducing panic, one count of obstructing official business, one count of failure to comply, and one count of negligent assault. That indictment was later supplemented to add a second count of failure to comply. The State dismissed some of the charges before trial, and the trial court granted Mr. Pustelniak's motion for acquittal on some of the remaining counts during trial. A jury found Mr. Pustelniak guilty of three counts of failure to comply, one count of obstructing official business, one count of willful or wanton disregard of safety, and the count of theft in case number 17CR097162. It found him guilty of inducing panic and one count of failure to comply in case number 17CR097249. After concluding that all of the failure-to-comply counts and the willful-and-wanton-disregard-of-safety count merged, the trial court sentenced Mr. Pustelniak to a total of 48 months imprisonment. Mr. Pustelniak has appealed, assigning two errors. The State has cross-appealed the court's determination that all of the failure to comply counts should merge. We will address Mr. Pustelniak's assignments of error first.

         II. ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR I

         THE VERDICT IN THIS CASE IS AGAINST THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE AND SHOULD BE REVERSED BECAUSE IT VIOLATES THE FIFTH, SIXTH, AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, AND ARTICLE I, SECTION 10 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF OHIO.

         {¶4} Mr. Pustelniak argues that his convictions are not supported by sufficient evidence. Whether a conviction is supported by sufficient evidence is a question of law, which we review de novo. State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 386 (1997). In making this determination, we must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution:

An appellate court's function when reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a criminal conviction is to examine the evidence admitted at trial to determine whether such evidence, if believed, would convince the average mind of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The relevant inquiry is whether, after viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

State v. Jenks, 61 Ohio St.3d 259 (1991), paragraph two of the syllabus.

         {¶5} Mr. Pustelniak argues that the State failed to prove his conviction for inducing panic because there was no evidence that he caused an evacuation of any public place. Revised Code Section 2917.31(A)(3) provides that "[n]o person shall cause the evacuation of any public place, or otherwise cause serious public inconvenience or alarm, by * * * [c]ommitting any offense, with reckless disregard of the likelihood that its commission will cause serious public inconvenience or alarm." Notably, Section 2917.31(A)(3) does not require the evacuation of a public place. Contrary to Mr. Pustelniak's assertion, the offense may also be committed if the defendant "otherwise cause[d] serious public inconvenience or alarm[.]" R.C. 2917.31(A). According to one of the police officers working the parade route, when Mr. Pustelniak drove the vehicle over the curb, she saw people moving very quickly to get out of the vehicle's path. After the vehicle passed through, the officer spoke to a woman who had moved her daughter and herself out of the path of the vehicle. The woman was holding her daughter and was scared and nervous about the situation, telling the officer that, if they had not moved, they may ...


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.