ATHENS — On March 7, Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney James K. Stanley represented the State of Ohio before the Fourth District Court of Appeals at the Athens County Courthouse. The Court heard oral argument in two Meigs County cases: State v. Andrew Robinson and State v. Danny Morgan. Judge Peter B. Abele, Judge Matthew W. McFarland, and Judge Jason P. Smith presided.
In November 2017, a jury convicted Robinson of vandalism and failure to appear. Meigs County Court of Common Pleas Judge I. Carson Crow sentenced Robinson to 12 months in prison for the vandalism conviction and 18 months in prison for the failure to appear conviction. Each sentence was the maximum sentence. The sentences were ordered to be served consecutively. Robinson damaged Middleport Jail property while being house in the holding cell. Robinson also failed to appear for two pre-trial conferences after being released from jail on a recognizance bond.
On appeal, Robinson set forth four assignments of error. The first assignment of error alleged that the trial court’s decision to proceed to a jury trial one day after Robinson’s arraignment constituted an abuse of discretion. The State argued that the trial court did not abuse its discretion because the case in which Robinson was tried contained a re-indicted count that presented no surprise or prejudice to Robinson, because speedy trial was nearly expired, and because trial counsel never explicitly moved the court to continue the case nor did Robinson waive his right to a speedy trial.
The second assignment of error alleged that the trial court erred in sentencing Robinson for fourth-degree felony failure to appear because the verdict form did not comply with Ohio Revised Code §2945.75(A)(2) and violated Robinson’s right to Due Process under Article I, Section 16 of the Ohio Constitution and the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The State argued that Robinson’s right to Due Process under Article I, Section 16 of the Ohio Constitution and the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution were not violated because Ohio Revised Code §2945.75(A)(2) was inapplicable to the Failure to Appear count since a misdemeanor Failure to Appear offense cannot be elevated to a felony Failure to Appear offense by any additional or aggravating elements.
The third assignment of error alleged that the trial court’s sentence of Robinson to maximum consecutive sentences was contrary to law as the trial court did not make the required findings under Ohio Revised Code §2929.14(C)(4). The State argued that Robinson’s sentence was not contrary to law because the trial court made the required findings before sentencing Robinson to maximum consecutive sentences.
The fourth assignment of error alleged that the trial court’s sentence of Robinson was not supported by the record because maximum consecutive sentences were contrary to law as the record showed only one previous felony conviction and that none of the seriousness factors for felony sentencing under Ohio Revised Code §2929.12 were present. The State argued that Robinson’s sentence was not contrary to law because the record supported said sentence.
In March 2018, a jury convicted Morgan of two counts of felonious assault and one count of attempted murder. The convictions were based on one act and therefore merged for sentencing purposes. Meigs County Court of Common Pleas Judge I. Carson Crow sentenced Morgan to the maximum sentence of 11 years in prison. Morgan stabbed a man in the neck three times with the intent to kill the victim.
On appeal, Morgan set forth two assignments of error. The first assignment of error alleged that the trial court erred by failing to grant Morgan’s motion to dismiss his case for lack of a speedy trial under Ohio Revised Code §2945.71 and Ohio Revised Code §2945.73. Specifically, Morgan alleged that since the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office did not timely serve an arrest warrant upon Morgan, Morgan’s right to a speedy trial was violated since he was not brought to trial within 270 days. The State argued that law enforcement could not serve an arrest warrant upon Morgan because Morgan listed an invalid address on his bond paperwork, because Morgan moved multiple times and failed to update his address with the court, and because Morgan otherwise took active steps to avoid being arrested while knowing he had been indicted for Attempted Murder.
The second assignment of error alleged that Morgan’s sentence was both unsupported by competent, credible evidence in the record and contrary to law. The State argued that Morgan’s maximum sentence was supported by the record and not contrary to law because Morgan premeditated the attempted murder, because Morgan attempted to murder the victim by stabbing the victim three times in the neck, and because of the serious physical harm Morgan caused to the victim which resulted in the victim nearly dying from his injuries.
The Court of Appeals will issue written decisions for each case at a later date.
Information provided by Prosecutor James K. Stanley.