Each Friday, we highlight decisions of the First District Court of Appeals in the past week. For question about these cases, contact Vanessa Seeger.

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In re: R.A.M.
Case #C190596

Quote from Judgment Entry:

Appellant R.A. (“Father”) appeals the decision of the Hamilton County Juvenile Court awarding permanent custody of his daughter, R.A.M., to appellee Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services (“JFS”). In Father’s sole assignment of error, he argues that the juvenile court erred as a matter of law in granting JFS’s motion for permanent custody of R.A.M.

A juvenile court will only grant permanent custody to a children’s services agency if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that (1) one of the conditions enumerated in R.C. 2151.414(B)(1)(a) through (e) exists, and (2) granting permanent custody to the agency is in the best interests of the child. R.C. 2151.414.

State of Ohio v. Alex Penland
Case # C190323

Quote from Judgment Entry:

Defendant-petitioner-appellant Alex Penland presents on appeal two assignments of error challenging the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court’s judgment denying the relief sought in his 2019 “Motion to File New Trial Instanter” and “Motion for New Trial Based on Newly Discovered Evidence and/or Postconviction Relief under Crim.R. 33 or R.C. 2953.23.” We affirm the court’s judgment.

Penland was convicted in 2015 of murder, having weapons under a disability, and drug trafficking. He unsuccessfully challenged his convictions on direct appeal and in a postconviction petition filed with the common pleas court in 2018. State v. Penland, 1st Dist. Hamilton Nos. C-150414 and C-150413 (May 6, 2016); State v. Penland, 1st Dist. Hamilton No. C-180330 (July 26, 2019).

State of Ohio v. Derrick Dumas
Case #C190239

Quote from Judge Zayas' Opinion:

Derrick Dumas appeals his conviction, after a no-contest plea, for possession of cocaine. In two assignments of error, Dumas contends that the trial court erred in accepting his no-contest plea without complying with Crim.R. 11, and that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Based on our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Derrick Dumas was indicted for possession of cocaine, a felony of the fifth degree, for placing a baggie of cocaine in an alley. According to the statement of facts presented by the state at the plea hearing, drug investigators observed Dumas engaging in hand-to-hand drug transactions on Hemlock Street. The officers also saw him place a baggie of crack cocaine in an alley. After the officers retrieved the cocaine, Dumas admitted to making the drug transactions in order to get money for food and that he had hidden the baggie after he observed police officers in the area. When asked whether those facts were true, Dumas’s counsel affirmed that Dumas wished to plead no contest to possessing the cocaine, but specifically took no position regarding the other facts.

State of Ohio v. Antonio Sawyer
Case #C190178

Quote from Judgment Entry:

Antonio Sawyer appeals his convictions, after a jury trial, for improperly discharging a firearm into a habitation, felonious assault with specifications, carrying a concealed weapon, and improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle. In two assignments of error, Sawyer contends that the convictions were based on insufficient evidence, that his convictions were against the manifest weight of the evidence, that the trial court erred by imposing multiple sentences on allied offenses, and the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentences and not considering the purposes and principles of sentencing. For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

State of Ohio v. Harold Chandler
Case #C190175

Quote from Judge Zayas' Opinion:

Harold Chandler appeals his sentences, after his guilty pleas, for burglary and attempted arson. In one assignment of error, Chandler contends that the trial court erred by failing to merge his convictions for sentencing because they were allied offenses. Finding no merit to his assignment of error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

We note that Chandler also appealed his conviction for escape in the appeal numbered C-190175, but raised no assignments of error related to that conviction. Accordingly, we dismiss that appeal. See State v. Harris, 2017-Ohio5594, 92 N.E.3d 1283, ¶ 42 (1st Dist.)

State of Ohio v. William Antonio Smith
Case #C190162

Quote from Judge Mock's Opinion:

Petitioner-appellant William Antonio Smith appeals the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court’s judgment denying his petition under R.C. 2953.21 et seq. for postconviction relief. Because the court had no jurisdiction to entertain Smith’s late postconviction petition, we affirm the judgment as modified to dismiss the petition.

In 2017, Smith was convicted of having weapons while under a disability and two counts of murder in connection with the deaths of his friends Alma Jean Owens and MacArthur Jackson, Sr., during an altercation in Jackson’s apartment. Owens was 57 years old and 5’1’’ tall. Smith shot her three times: one shot shattered her right leg; a close-range shot struck her on the right side of her jaw; and the fatal shot struck her under her right eye. Jackson was 72 years old, 5’4” tall, and suffered from chronic lung disease, hypertension, and arteriosclerosis. He sustained three gunshots to the head and multiple cuts on his hands and head, including the fatal 6½-inch-long cut to his neck, found by the coroner to have required up to a dozen strokes. Then-27-year-old Smith gave police multiple conflicting accounts of his role in their deaths, then admitted killing them, but claimed that he had acted in self-defense after Owens attacked him with a sharp object and Jackson physically assaulted him.

State of Ohio v. Mark Davis
Case #C190108

Quote from Judgment Entry:

Following a bench trial, defendant-appellant Mark Davis was convicted of assault under R.C. 2903.13(A) for punching a Cincinnati Metro bus driver. We find no merit in his three assignments of error, and we affirm his conviction. In his first assignment of error, Davis contends that the state’s evidence was insufficient to support his conviction and that his conviction was against the manifest weight of the evidence. He argues that the video from the bus shows that he did not strike first and that he was not the aggressor in the physical altercation. This assignment of error is not well taken.

State of Ohio v. Daniel W. O'Connell II
Case #C180601

Quote from Judge Bergeron's Opinion:

Evid.R. 404(B) exists to guard against the “propensity” inference—in other words, wielding past bad acts to prove action in conformity therewith, which facilitates a conviction based on prior conduct rather than the evidence at hand. In this prosecution for rape and gross sexual imposition, the state presented evidence of allegations (not a conviction) that the defendant perpetrated similar conduct over 20 years earlier. The state insisted that such actions constituted a common “plan” under Evid.R. 404(B), and the trial court agreed, admitting this evidence without any limiting instruction. Our review convinces us that the trial court abused its discretion in this regard, and given the prominence of this evidence at trial (testimony the trial court described as “riveting”), we must reverse and remand for a new trial.

State of Ohio v. Anquan Williams
Case #C180588

Quote from Judge Bergeron's Opinion:

A kidnapping at gunpoint, followed by a high-speed chase, led to the criminal charges in this case. The defendant, while admitting that he drove the car, disputed his involvement in this affair, professing ignorance of his accomplices’ plans to perpetrate the kidnapping. But the key victim identified him as the individual who seized her child, and the jury was certainly entitled to credit her account. And it did just that—convicting him on several counts. In light of the evidence presented at trial, on a weight and sufficiency review (in addition to a merger issue and ineffective assistance), we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

State of Ohio v. James Williams
Case #C180574

Quote from Judge Myers' Opinion:

Defendant-appellant James Williams appeals the trial court’s judgment convicting him of aggravated vehicular homicide in violation of R.C. 2903.06(A)(1)(a).

In four assignments of error, Williams argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion for a mistrial, that the trial court improperly admitted evidence and testimony concerning the presence of alcohol and drugs in his body, that his conviction was against the manifest weight of the evidence, and that the cumulative effect of the errors that occurred during trial deprived him of a fair trial. Finding no merit to Williams’s arguments, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.