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State v. Hardy

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

December 5, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
BRANDON HARDY, Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case Nos. CR-18-627534-A, CR-18-627941-A, CR-18-630306-A, and CR-18-633801-A

          Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Denise J. Salerno, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.

          Mark A Stanton, Cuyahoga County Public Defender, and Noelle A. Powell, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          MARY EILEEN KILBANE, ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Brandon Hardy ("Hardy"), appeals from his 21-year sentence resulting from four separate criminal cases in which he pled guilty to drug possession, trafficking, attempting trafficking, carrying a concealed weapon, having weapons while under disability, felonious assault, and child endangering. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

         {¶ 2} In May 2018, Hardy was charged in two criminal cases. In Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-18-627534-A, he was charged with trafficking, drug possession, carrying a concealed weapon, and possessing criminal tools. In Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-18-627941-A, Hardy was charged with having weapons while under disability, improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle, carrying a concealed weapon, trafficking, two counts of drug possession, and possessing criminal tools. Each of the counts in these two cases carried firearm and/or forfeiture specifications. In July 2018, Hardy was charged in Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-18-630306-A with two counts of felonious assault and four counts of child endangering. The victim in this case is G.B. (d.o.b. 9/12/16), who is the son of Hardy's girlfriend at the time.[1] In October 2018, Hardy was charged in Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-18-633801-A with drug possession and two counts of trafficking. Each of the counts in this case carried firearm and/or forfeiture specifications.

         {¶ 3} Pursuant to a plea agreement, Hardy pled guilty in Case No. CR-18-627534 to an amended count of drug possession, with forfeiture specifications, and carrying a concealed weapon. The remaining counts were dismissed. In Case No. CR-18-627941, Hardy pled guilty to having a weapon while under disability, with forfeiture specifications, and trafficking, with forfeiture specifications. The remaining counts were dismissed. In Case No. CR-18-630306, Hardy pled guilty to felonious assault and two counts of child endangering. The remaining counts were dismissed. In Case No. CR-18-633801, Hardy pled guilty to amended counts of trafficking and attempted trafficking, both with forfeiture specifications. The remaining count was dismissed. The trial court referred Hardy to the probation department for a presentence investigation report ("PSI") and set the matter for sentencing in November 2018.

         {¶ 4} At the sentencing hearing, the trial court heard from the state, G.B.'s maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother, the guardian ad litem ("GAL"), defense counsel, and Hardy. The facts related to the child endangering case were placed on the record by the state. In June 2018, Parma police were called to Walmart after an off-duty police officer observed Hardy beating G.B., who was in the back seat of the car. G.B.'s mother was in the front passenger seat. When the officers arrived, Hardy was inside Walmart and G.B.'s mother was inside the car with G.B. The officer observed bruises all over G.B.'s face, legs, chest, back, and arms. G.B. also had cuts and what appeared to be burn marks on his arms. The left side of his face was blistering from what appeared to be some sort of burn. G.B. also had cuts and lacerations from the left side of his head across the top of his forehead to the right side of his head. Photographs of the injuries were admitted into evidence.

         {¶ 5} The next day, G.B.'s mother went to the Cleveland Police Department and fıled a report against Hardy. The mother reported that in one incident, Hardy pressed the scissors into the skin on G.B.'s head while cutting G.B.'s hair. Photographs of the injuries depict slash marks running straight across G.B.'s head and inside of his ears. The mother also reported that an incident occurred at a car wash in Cleveland before the Walmart incident.

         {¶ 6} During this incident, Hardy sprayed G.B. in the face and arm while he was power washing his van. This caused G.B.'s burned or torn off skin on the side of G.B.'s face and arm. The state had video of this incident. The state described the contents of the video to the trial court. The video depicts Hardy washing his van with the back door pulled open. He then pulls G.B. to the edge of the door and points the power washer into the car. G.B. was only about six inches away from the power washer and flinched back into the car when sprayed by Hardy. Shortly thereafter, Hardy is seen yanking G.B. out of the van and forcibly sitting him on the roof of the van. G.B. is seen crying and moving around. Hardy then pulled G.B. off of the roof and forcibly put him down on the ground. He picked up G.B., turned him upside down, raised G.B. over his head, and then shook G.B. up and down, imitating a slamming motion, but stopped short of hitting G.B.'s head to the ground.

         {¶ 7} G.B.'s maternal grandfather spoke to the court at sentencing and asked the court to give Hardy the maximum sentence. G.B.'s GAL addressed the court through a letter. The GAL stated that this was the worst case of child abuse that she had ever seen, short of those children who did not survive the abuse. The GAL described that although G.B.'s wounds healed, he still wakes up at night with bad dreams and is seen to be very aggressive at times when playing. The GAL asked the court to consider the impact that this case has had on G.B. and can still have in the future. The GAL asked the court to sentence Hardy separately from his other cases. The state agreed and asked the court to impose consecutive sentences. The state reasoned:

For anybody to be able to treat a child, a 14-month old child in this manner who can't even talk yet, he's a danger to all people in this community.
He's also selling methamphetamine putting the rest of the community in danger, walking around with guns. This is just a dangerous person who should not be in society. And for that the State is going to ask the Court to consider consecutive sentences commensurate with this crime, hopefully more on the higher end.

         {¶ 8} After the state spoke, defense counsel addressed the court. Counsel advised that Hardy's family was in ...


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