Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth District, Athens
A. Eliason, Athens City Law Director, and Jessica L. Branner,
Athens City Prosecutor, Athens, Ohio, for Appellee.
Timothy Young, Ohio Public Defender, and Allen M. Vender,
Assistant Ohio Public Defender, Columbus, Ohio, for
DECISION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY
MATTHEW W. MCFARLAND, JUDGE.
This is an appeal from an Athens Municipal Court judgment
entry convicting Chad Kister of aggravated menacing,
obstructing official business, and abuse of the 911 system.
Because we overrule Appellant's assignments of error, the
judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
The State charged Appellant with aggravated menacing under
RC. 2903.21, obstructing official business under R.C.
2921.31, and abuse of the 911 system under R.C. 128.32(F).
The trial court appointed an assistant public defender to
represent Appellant. Subsequently, however, the trial court
permitted Appellant's counsel to withdraw, and then
appointed "advisory counsel" to Appellant, who
represented himself pro se through the trial. The trial court
ordered Appellant to have a mental examination to consider
his competency. After Appellant was deemed competent, the
case went to trial.
In its opening statement, the State contended the evidence
would show that Appellant made thirty 911 calls over a period
of five hours even though there was no ongoing emergency. The
State further asserted that Appellant became so upset that
the Sheriffs Office would not respond to the 911 calls, he
verbally threatened to kill two dispatchers. Finally, the
State asserted that when deputies arrived to take Appellant
for a mental examination, he made it difficult for the
deputies to get him to the cruiser to the degree that they
eventually had to carry him.
Appellant, in his opening statement, asserted that he owned a
hostel and one of his guests, Ryan Caywood, physically
assaulted and injured him. He testified that the Nelsonville
Police removed Caywood, but he later returned and that's
why he called 911, claiming it was "a life or death
The State's first witness, Captain Brain Cooper, was a
deputy with the Athens County Sheriffs Office. He testified
that on November 12, 2017, the Sheriffs Office received a
call of a possible ongoing assault. Captain Cooper further
testified that because all the deputies were busy, the
Sheriffs Office asked for the Nelsonville Police to respond.
Captain Cooper testified that the Nelsonville Police had
indicated that Appellant and Caywood each alleged being
assaulted by the other, but the police declined to file
charges because there was insufficient evidence to charge
either of them. Captain Cooper testified that the Nelsonville
Police removed Caywood from Appellant's premises and
dropped him off near Nelsonville.
Captain Cooper testified that Appellant contacted the
Sheriffs Office several times later that day asking why
Caywood was not charged. Captain Cooper testified that
Appellant sent a video to the Sheriffs Office that
purportedly showed Caywood's assault of Appellant, but he
testified that the video had been altered. He further
testified that he informed Appellant that until he received
the entire video, the investigation would go no further.
The State's next witness, Michele Hutchison, was a
dispatcher for Athens County Emergency Communications Center.
Hutchinson testified that part of her job is answering 911
calls. Hutchinson testified that the office received
approximately thirty 911 calls from Appellant on November 12,
2017. She testified that at times Appellant was calling 911
from multiple phone numbers at the same time with up to three
dispatchers answering his calls simultaneously. Hutchison
explained that a true emergency is considered a life
threatening situation and occasionally one involving
property. Hutchison testified that the 911 calls from
Appellant that day were in her opinion not emergencies
because the person, who was the purported threat, was across
the street from Appellant. Hutchison testified that as the
day went on Appellant became "more agitated, more
aggressive" during his calls. Hutchison further
testified that Appellant was using expletives and he
threatened "that [she] would be executed with the rest
of them." In all his previous 911 calls Appellant had
never threatened her. Hutchison testified that because of
Appellant's behavior she filed a formal complaint with
On cross examination, Appellant asked if Hutchison could
understand why he continued to call because Caywood had
assaulted him and then returned to Appellant's property.
Hutchison responded that during the 911 call Appellant stated
that Caywood "was across the road." When Appellant
asked Hutchison if she though he was in fear of his safety
when he called, she responded "No."
The State's next witness, Adam Kasler, was a deputy
sheriff with the Athens County Sheriffs office. On November
12, 2017 at 4:00 p.m., Deputy Kasler was dispatched to
Appellant's house because of what was believed to be a
scream from a woman who called 911 and then hung up. Deputy
Kasler testified that when he arrived he encountered
Appellant who related that he was very unhappy with how the
Sheriffs Office had handled a call from him earlier in the
day. Deputy Kasler testified that he told Appellant that he
should have raised those concerns with the deputy who
responded to that call. Deputy Kasler testified that once it
was evident there was no emergency, he resumed his patrol.
The State's next witness, Stacy Stalder, was a dispatcher
who works for Athens County 911 Call Center. Stalder
testified that she received a call from Appellant on November
12, 2017 at 3:17 p.m. asking for a portable x-ray unit, but
not emergency services, claiming that he had been assaulted
earlier in the day. Stalder testified that she informed him
that they did not have portable x-ray units. Stalder
testified that she received another call later that day from
Appellant who was screaming and yelling because he wanted
someone to respond, but deputies had responded earlier.
Stalder confirmed that Appellant made about thirty 911 calls
that day. Stalder testified that during those calls Appellant
threatened to kill her if she did not kill Ryan Caywood.
Stalder testified that at no time during his calls did
Appellant claim that he was being assaulted or harmed in
anyway. Stalder testified that when she had dealt with
Appellant before he was never as distraught as he was on
November 12, 2017, and it scared her. She testified as a
consequence she filed a formal complaint with her boss.
The State's next witness, James Heater, was the shift
lieutenant for the Athens County Sheriffs Department.
Lieutenant Heater testified dispatchers referred
Appellant's calls to him to determine if there was an
active emergency. He testified that Appellant called at least
several times in the evening of November 12, 2017, but none
were deemed to be an emergency. Lieutenant Heater testified
that eventually he reached the point where he decided to file
charges against Appellant for his excessive calls and
threats. He conferred with Captain Cooper by phone and
dispatched deputies to charge Appellant and to take him into
custody for a physical and mental evaluation at a hospital,
called a "blue slip," which is permitted by R.C.
5122.10. Lieutenant Heater determined that Appellant needed
the evaluation pursuant to Crisis Intervention Training,
which provides methods to deescalate situations.
Lieutenant Heater testified that he and Deputy McCollister
arrived and informed Appellant that he was going to be taken
into custody for a mental examination because of all the 911
calls he had been making that day. Lieutenant Heater
testified that Appellant threw himself onto the ground, went
limp, and closed his eyes. Lieutenant Heater testified that
he was concerned Appellant was going to hit his head on an
exposed brick so he requested Appellant to get up, but
Appellant refused. Lieutenant Heater testified that he used a
pressure point maneuver to make Appellant stand up and then
Deputies Kasler and McCollister handcuffed Appellant.
Lieutenant Heater testified that Appellant continued to try
to throw himself on the ground until eventually the two
deputies had to pick him up and carry him in the cruiser.
The State's final witness was Donald McCollister, a
deputy with the Athens County Sheriffs Office. Deputy
McCollister explained that there are four options for issuing
a "blue slip" (mental evaluation): (1) the person
is suicidal, (2) the person is homicidal, (3) the person is
not caring for themselves, and (4) the person would benefit
from mental treatment. Deputy McCollister testified that in
making out the blue slip for Appellant, he marked boxes 2
(homicidal) and 4 (would benefit from mental treatment)
because of the threats Appellant made to the dispatchers.
Deputy McCollister testified that the Sheriffs Office is only
capable of taking four 911 calls at a time, so when Appellant
was making multiple 911 calls at once it was possible that
others trying to reach 911 at that time could not get
After the deputies took Appellant into custody, the Sheriffs
Office charged him with misuse of the 911 system for tying up
the system with non-emergency calls, aggravated menacing for
threatening the dispatchers, and obstruction of official
business for impeding the deputies' attempts to take
Appellant into custody for the mental exam The State then
rested its case.
Appellant testified on his own behalf. He asserted that Ryan
Caywood was a guest in his hostel on November 11, 2017.
Appellant testified that early on November 12th he noticed
from his video surveillance equipment that Caywood was
agitated, so Appellant decided to talk to him. He testified
that Caywood admitted he was mentally unstable, and that he
was not sure what to do with Caywood. He then testified that
about noon he was leaving when Caywood broke through
Appellant's fence and cornered Appellant in a courtyard.
And, he testified that he tried unsuccessfully to push
Caywood out of the way, and then attempted to throw water on
him, which resulted in Caywood assaulting Appellant, breaking
several bones. The jury apparently watched some video
provided by Appellant that purported to show Caywood's
assault of Appellant.
Appellant testified that he called 911 and the Nelsonville
Police arrived. He testified that the police took Caywood
from his property about 12:00 p.m. and told him not to
return. He testified that Caywood returned about 3:00 p.m.
However, Appellant testified that he left and remained across
Appellant testified that Caywood told Appellant he was going
to kill him. He called 911 and deputies came, but Caywood was
nowhere in sight at the time. He went on to say that after
the deputies left, he saw Caywood on his surveillance systems
several times. Appellant began calling 911 again and yelling
at dispatchers because he was afraid Caywood was going to
kill him, not to threaten the dispatchers.
On cross examination, Appellant admitted that he had never
received a medical diagnosis of any broken bones. He also
admitted that he was the ...