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State v. Miller

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Warren

August 26, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Appellee,
v.
PAUL D. MILLER, Appellant.

          CRIMINAL APPEAL FROM FRANKLIN MUNICIPAL COURT No. 18-05-CRB-3729

          Steven M. Runge, 1 Benjamin Franklin Way, Franklin, Ohio, for appellee

          Weisbrod Law Office, Alfred J. Weisbrod, for appellant

          OPINION

          RINGLAND, J.

         {¶ 1} Appellant, Paul Miller, appeals from his conviction for sexual imposition in the Franklin Municipal Court. For the reasons detailed below, we affirm.

         {¶ 2} On May 26, 2018, Miller went to karaoke night at JD Legends, a bowling, concert, and music venue in Franklin. The dispute centers on sexual contact that Miller had with the victim, a 16-year-old girl, which Miller denies. The victim and three of her cousins (T.P., K.P., and H.P.) testified that Miller appeared intoxicated and paid extra attention to her throughout the evening, which led to several uncomfortable interactions. Miller admitted to consuming alcohol, approximately four 23-ounce beers, but denied that he was intoxicated to the point of drunkenness.

         {¶ 3} The victim testified that Miller was "acting a little weird." The victim stated that Miller called her a "fine girl" on multiple occasions. K.P. similarly testified that Miller praised the victim and came up to her "quite a few times talking to her and saying that she was fine * * * implying that she was cute." H.P. also observed Miller's behavior, stating that he paid a lot of attention to the victim. Miller stated that he was just quoting song lyrics and acknowledged that he may have "spooked" the victim but was merely trying to congratulate and encourage her karaoke. Miller, who describes karaoke as his life's passion, testified that he always congratulates singers to encourage them to sing and enjoy karaoke.

         {¶ 4} The victim described the sexual contact as occurring very suddenly and out of the blue. According to her, while she was in the karaoke room, Miller suddenly touched her vagina and then grabbed K.P.'s, buttocks. After the contact, the victim stated that she "went straight into shock," didn't know what to do, and was scared. K.P. also testified that she observed Miller grab the victim's vagina and then walk by and place his hand on her own "lower back butt area." Miller denied that he touched the victim's vagina or K.P.'s buttocks, however he said that he may have patted their backs. Miller also surmised that the victim and her family fabricated the sexual contact to get him ejected from the bar as a ruse to get more opportunities to sing karaoke.

         {¶ 5} Following the incident, the victim and K.P. exited the room. In the other room, the victim and K.P. discussed what had just occurred and decided to inform security. Miller was escorted from the premises and arrested by law enforcement.

         {¶ 6} On May 29, 2018, Miller was named in a criminal complaint for sexual imposition in violation of R.C. 2907.06(A)(1), a third-degree misdemeanor. The matter was tried before the bench and the trial court found Miller guilty of the charged offense. Miller now appeals, raising two assignments of error for review.

         {¶ 7} Assignment of Error No. 1:

         {¶ 8} THERE IS INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE PRESENTED AT THE TRIAL COURT TO FIND APPELLANT GUILTY OF SEXUAL IMPOSITION BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT.

         {¶ 9} In his first assignment of error, Miller argues that his conviction is not supported by sufficient evidence. Miller's argument is without merit.

         {¶ 10} Whether the evidence presented is legally sufficient to sustain a verdict is a question of law. State v. Chapman, 12th Dist. Butler No. CA2018-03-046, 2018-Ohio-4560, ¶ 13. When reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence underlying a criminal conviction, an appellate court examines the evidence to determine whether such evidence, if believed, would convince the average mind of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Intihar, 12th Dist. Warren CA2015-05-046, 2015-Ohio-5507, ¶ 9. 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. In other words, "the test for sufficiency requires a determination as to whether the state has met its burden of production at trial." State v. Boles, 12th Dist. Brown No. CA2012-06-012, 2013-Ohio-5202, ΒΆ 34. When evaluating the sufficiency of the ...


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