Court of Appeals hears Barnhart case


Defendant previously convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide

Staff Report



CHILLICOTHE — Arguments were presented to the Fourth District Court of Appeals on Thursday in the case of a Meigs County man convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide.

Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney James K. Stanley represented the State of Ohio before the Ohio Fourth District Court of Appeals during oral argument in the matter of State v. Richard Barnhart, Jr. Oral argument was held in Courtroom 1 of the Ross County Courthouse in Chillicothe. The judges who heard the case were Presiding Judge Marie Hoover, Judge Peter B. Abele, and Judge Matthew W. McFarland.

In January 2018, Richard Barnhart, Jr. was tried and convicted of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, Vehicular Manslaughter, and Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of Alcohol.

The trial court sentenced Barnhart to 14 years in prison.

Barnhart appealed and submitted four assignments of error for the court of appeals to review. The first assignment of error alleged that the trial court erred by not granting Barnhart’s motion for a new trial. The second assignment of error alleged that the trial court erred by not granting Barnhart’s motion to suppress. The third assignment of error alleged that the jury’s verdict finding Barnhart guilty was against the manifest weight of the evidence. The fourth assignment of error alleged that Barnhart’s trial counsel provided ineffective assistance regarding obtaining an affidavit in support of Barnhart’s motion for a new trial.

Both in the State’s 31-page brief and during oral argument, Stanley argued that the trial court did not err by not granting Barnhart’s motion for a new trial because Barnhart’s witness did not provide credible testimony or other evidence that disclosed a strong probability that such evidence would change the result if a new trial was granted. Without such evidence, Barnhart failed to meet his burden of proof, and the trial court therefore did not err by denying Barnhart’s motion.

Likewise, Stanley argued that the trial court did not err by not granting Barnhart’s motion to suppress — which was based in large part upon Barnhart’s assertion that his blood was drawn for chemical analysis without a warrant — because under Ohio’s implied consent law, Barnhart consented to his blood being drawn and a warrant was therefore not required.

Addressing Barnhart’s third assignment of error, Stanley argued that Barnhart’s conviction was not against the manifest weight of the evidence because the evidence produced at trial overwhelming proved Barnhart’s guilt. Amongst other evidence, Barnhart implicitly admitted to first responders that he was the driver of the crashed vehicle; Barnhart had a blood alcohol content of .269, which is over three times the .08 legal limit in the State of Ohio; and the crash killed the victim.

Finally, Stanley argued that trial counsel did not provide ineffective assistance regarding obtaining an affidavit in support of Barnhart’s motion for a new trial because, even though the conduct was questionable, said conduct was not deficient since it produced the desired result, and the conduct did not prejudice Barnhart.

The court of appeals is expected to issue a decision on the Barnhart case within the next few months.

State v. Barnhart was the third case Stanley has argued before the Ohio Fourth District Court of Appeals this year. On July 19, Stanley traveled to Athens County and presented oral argument in State v. Inielsis Isaac, who was convicted of Trafficking in Heroin and Possession of Heroin and sentenced to a maximum term of 11 years in prison. On Sept. 6, Stanley traveled to Gallia County and presented oral argument in State v. Travis Klein, who was convicted of Attempted Tampering with Evidence and has already served a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison.

The court of appeals has not yet issued decisions on either of these cases. Several other appellate cases have also been submitted to the court of appeals in which an oral argument date has not yet been set, or in which oral argument was not requested.

Information provided by the Meigs County Prosecutor’s Office.

Defendant previously convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide

Staff Report