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State v. Barnthouse

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton

December 18, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CHADWICK BARNTHOUSE, Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal From: Hamilton County No. B-1705430 Court of Common Pleas.

          Joseph T. Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, and Ronald Springman, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Plaintiff-Appellee,

          Raymond T. Faller, Hamilton County Public Defender, and Joshua A. Thompson, Assistant Public Defender, for Defendant-Appellant.

          OPINION

          Bergeron, Judge.

         {¶1} Looking to replace several windows in their home, Donald and Rita Stopler, via a chain of referrals, contacted defendant-appellant Chadwick Barnthouse in November 2014. He provided the Stoplers with a favorable estimate, which convinced them to enter into a contract with him for the job, and consistent with their agreement, the Stoplers handed him a check for several thousand dollars. Unfortunately, Mr. Barnthouse never performed his end of the bargain, nor did he return all of the money. Eventually convicted for theft, Mr. Barnthouse now appeals, challenging his conviction on weight and sufficiency grounds. Our review of the record, however, convinces us that the jury had before it sufficient and credible evidence upon which to convict him. We accordingly affirm his conviction.

         I.

         {¶2} After receiving an outreach from Mrs. Stopler, Mr. Barnthouse visited the Stopler residence, inspected the windows, and provided the Stoplers with an estimate of $7, 200 for the total cost of the window replacement (i.e., parts and labor). Encouraged because Mr. Barnthouse's estimate fell below other estimates that they had received, the Stoplers entered into a written contract with him for the work, signed by both Mr. Barnthouse and Mrs. Stopler. Though Mr. Stopler did not sign the contract, both Mr. and Mrs. Stopler testified that he was present when the contracting occurred.

         {¶3} The contract called for Mr. Barnthouse to remove seven windows and to install new windows in their place. The total price was $7, 267, of which the Stoplers paid $6, 200 upfront to Mr. Barnthouse in the form of a personal check from their joint-checking account. After about six weeks, with no windows materializing, Mrs. Stopler contacted Mr. Barnthouse, who claimed that the windows were delivered, but in the wrong size. After another six weeks elapsed, Mr. Barnthouse reported that the windows were again delivered in the wrong size. Eventually, the Stoplers grew suspicious with Mr. Barnthouse's evasiveness and the lack of any new windows. After giving him several opportunities to perform under the contract, they turned the matter over to the authorities.

         {¶4} Mr. Barnthouse ultimately returned $1, 000 to the Stoplers, but never repaid the balance nor did he perform any of the work required under the contract. A warrant for his arrest was issued in spring of 2015, but authorities did not apprehend him until 2017. After his arrest, Mr. Barnthouse was indicted and tried before a jury for the theft of the $5, 200 still owed to the Stoplers. A jury ultimately found him guilty, and the trial court sentenced him to a year in prison (for which he was credited 267 days) and ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of $5, 200.

         {¶5} Mr. Barnthouse now appeals his conviction and raises a single assignment of error challenging both the weight and sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction.

         II.

         {¶6} In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, the court must ask, after viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, whether a rational trier of fact could have found all the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Brooks, 1st Dist. Hamilton No. C-000763, 2001 WL 1590643, *2 (Dec. 14, 2001). Evaluation of a challenge to the manifest weight of the evidence requires that the appellate court review the entire record, weigh the evidence and reasonable inferences, consider the credibility of the witnesses, and determine whether in resolving conflicts in the evidence, the trier of fact clearly lost its way, resulting in a manifest miscarriage of justice. Id.

         A.

         {¶7} Initially, Mr. Barnthouse challenges the evidence underlying the elevation of the offense pursuant to R.C. 2913.02(B)(3) to a theft involving a person in a ...


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