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Date: 11-30-2018

Case Style:


Case Number: C-170319

Judge: Marilyn Zayas


Plaintiff's Attorney: Joseph T. Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, and Philip R. Cummings, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney

Defendant's Attorney: Raymond T. Faller, Hamilton County Public Defender, and Sarah E. Nelson, Assistant Public Defender


On December 12, 2015, Stidhum was charged by a sealed, direct
indictment with aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular homicide, tampering with
evidence, and failure to stop after an accident. He was arrested on January 8, 2016. He
filed a discovery demand that included a request for any statements that might impeach
the state’s witnesses and any statements indicating Stidhum did not commit the
offenses. The state provided the requested discovery, and the case was scheduled for a
jury trial.
{¶4} Prior to trial, the state notified Stidhum that one of its eyewitnesses, Holly
Crawford, would identify Stidhum at trial as the driver. Holly Crawford was initially

interviewed on the day of the accident by Specialist Gregory Toyeas, a trained crash
reconstruction officer in the Traffic Safety Unit of the Cincinnati Police Department.
The written summary of Crawford’s interview did not indicate that she was able to
identify Stidhum. The summary also indicated that her statement had been taped.
However, the recording of her statement was not provided to Stidhum, and the state
could not locate the recording. The Motion to Dismiss and the Motion to Suppress
{¶5} Stidhum filed a motion to dismiss the indictment based upon the state’s
failure to preserve the recorded witness statement of Crawford, and a motion to
suppress her identification testimony. Stidhum argued that the recorded statement was
materially exculpatory or, in the alternative, the recorded statement was potentially
useful and the police acted in bad faith by deleting the recording.
{¶6} At the hearing on the motions, Toyeas testified that he had interviewed
and recorded nine witness statements on a hand-held recording device on the day of the
accident. Six days later, he prepared written summaries of the statements that
contained all of the pertinent information in the recorded statements. He downloaded
the statements onto a disc that he provided to the prosecutor, and he believed that he
had also uploaded the recordings to the computer server. When he learned the
recordings were missing, Toyeas requested an IT department employee, Justin Meek, to
try to locate the files on the server and on the hand-held recorder. Meek, a former
Cincinnati Police Department senior computer programmer analyst, testified that he
was not able to locate the files. Meek also testified that nothing in his investigation
indicated the missing files were intentionally deleted.
{¶7} The trial court determined that the recording was not materially
exculpatory because the pertinent information was contained in the witness summary,

and that the recording was potentially useful. Because it was potentially useful, Stidhum
was required to prove that the state acted in bad faith in failing to preserve the
recording. The trial court overruled both motions after finding that Stidhum did not
offer any evidence of bad faith. The Hearing on the Notice of Intent
{¶8} The state filed a notice of intent to introduce evidence of other crimes,
wrongs, or acts under Evid.R. 404(B). The state sought to introduce evidence that, 15
days before the accident, Stidhum had recklessly operated a vehicle at a high rate of
speed, lost control of the vehicle, and struck another vehicle. Stidhum had then fled on
foot and was ultimately apprehended after a law enforcement officer deployed a Taser.
Stidhum was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, obstructing official business,
and operating a vehicle while impaired (“OVI”).
{¶9} Prior to voir dire, the court heard arguments on the admissibility of the
evidence. The state argued that the evidence was admissible to prove identity as a
behavioral fingerprint. In both cases, Stidhum drove recklessly, lost control of his car,
was involved in an accident, fled the scene, and was apprehended after the use of a Taser
by a law enforcement officer. Stidhum objected to the admissibility of the evidence that
he had been convicted of driving impaired because it was highly prejudicial and
irrelevant to the current charges.
{¶10} The court took the matter under advisement, and heard additional
arguments prior to the testimony. The trial court ultimately ruled that the state could
introduce evidence of the prior accident and the fleeing, but the testimony about the use
of a Taser and the OVI evidence was inadmissible. The Jury Trial
{¶11} The case proceeded to a jury trial, where the following facts were

established. On the morning of December 6, 2015, Catherine Chatfield was running the
Seven Hills Run with two members of her running group, Holly Crawford and Mary
Luebbers. As the three were running up the hill on Dorchester Avenue, Stidhum lost
control of his vehicle, hit a pole, jumped a curb, and struck and killed Chatfield, who was
running on the sidewalk.
{¶12} Luebbers, who was running in front of Chatfield and Crawford, heard the
crash and called 911. While on the phone with dispatch, she saw a young, slender black
male with short hair, remove a license plate from the car and run down the street. Then,
she saw him return to the car and enter the back seat of the car. Within an hour of the
accident, she spoke with Toyeas and told him she could not identify the driver. She was
not shown a photo lineup.
{¶13} During her testimony, Luebbers identified Stidhum as the man who
removed the license plate and ran from the car with 100 percent certainty. She had
looked at his face for a few seconds at a distance of 15 feet. During cross-examination,
she admitted that her identification was based solely on the fact that he was arrested
and not on her memory. She explained that she was so focused on her friend that she
did not see or remember the event very clearly. Luebbers acknowledged that she had
gone to every court proceeding, and she did not recognize Stidhum when she saw him at
the first hearing. After questioning by the trial court, Luebbers further explained that
her identification of Stidhum was based on her belief that the police had arrested the
correct person.
{¶14} Crawford, who was running behind Luebbers but in front of Chatfield,
heard the crash and saw Chatfield after she was struck and lying on the sidewalk. After
the car stopped, both the driver and the female passenger exited from the car. Stidhum
walked toward Crawford, and she asked him for help because Chatfield was bleeding.

She was six feet away from him and got a clear look at his face. Stidhum ran to the front
of the car, and a few moments later, Crawford saw him pulling out a backpack and some
papers from the back seat of the car. He and the passenger started running down the
hill, but the passenger turned around and came back to the scene of the accident.
Stidhum also briefly returned, went to the driver’s side of the car, and fled. She again
saw his face when he returned to the car.
{¶15} Crawford stayed at the scene, and was interviewed by Toyeas. She
testified that she did not tell Toyeas that she could not identify the driver, but admitted
that she did not remember all of the questions that he asked her. The police did not
show her a lineup. Crawford stated that no one had ever asked her if she could identify
Stidhum until the prosecutor was preparing for trial. During the trial, she identified
Stidhum, with 100 percent certainty, as the man she saw getting out of the car after the
{¶16} On cross-examination, she conceded that she had not told anyone she
could identify Stidhum until ten months after the accident. She further admitted that
she had seen Stidhum at the arraignment and in several court proceedings.
{¶17} Cynthia Weber also participated in the run. She was approaching
Dorchester Avenue when she saw a young, medium-complected black male running
toward her at a high rate of speed. He was three-to-four feet from her when he passed
her on the sidewalk. She looked at him and noticed that he was a good-looking young
man with short hair and a clean-shaven, full face. She thought that he was in good
shape, and that he should join their running group because he was a strong runner.
{¶18} Once she ran up the hill, she saw the accident and knew that Chatfield had
died. She watched as the EMT’s placed her in the ambulance, and she ran to the
hospital with some of the other runners. She was interviewed by a police officer at the

{¶19} Later that afternoon, a police officer called her and asked her to come to
the police station to look at a photo lineup. Weber looked at six photographs, and
believed that three of the six looked like the man she saw running. One of those three
was Stidhum, but she could not determine with 100 percent certainty which of the three
she saw. Weber testified that she told the police officer that she could narrow it down to
three, but the officer’s notes stated that she was very upset, and could not identify the
person she saw running. Weber believed the officer had confused her with another
witness who was upset. She identified Stidhum in court, and testified that she was 80
percent certain that he was the man she saw running past her.
{¶20} Two other runners, John Homer and Scott Covill, were running up the hill
after the accident. Covill could not identify the man he saw running down the hill.
Homer got a good look at the man’s face when their paths crossed on the sidewalk.
Homer nodded at him and greeted him, but Stidhum did not respond. Later that
afternoon, Homer chose Stidhum’s photo from a photo lineup. Homer identified
Stidhum in court.
{¶21} Toyeas responded to the scene to investigate the crash. When he arrived,
the first responding officers had separated the witnesses. Toyeas interviewed six
runners, three residents, and the passenger in the car, Mariah Johnson. When he
learned that the driver had run down the hill with a backpack and papers, he and
evidence technician Pat Moran canvassed the scene and the street. They collected the
license plate and the bracket that were found in front of the car. While walking down
the street, they found numerous papers that appeared to be a child’s school papers and a
piece of paper with a blood stain. The papers were sent to the Hamilton County
Coroner’s Lab for testing. Toyeas also sent two swabs from a Sunkist soft drink can

located in the car, swabs from the steering wheel and ignition switch, and a swab from a
Taurus pistol to the lab.
{¶22} After processing the scene, Toyeas went to his office and ran the license
plate number through “their record management system” and the Regional Crime
Information Computer. The car was registered to Kathryn Barwick, and Stidhum had
been cited for a traffic violation while driving the car. Toyeas also learned that the
school papers belonged to Barwick’s daughter, and that Stidhum was Barwick’s
boyfriend. Toyeas testified that he discovered that Barwick had filed a domestic
violence complaint, but before he mentioned whom the charge was filed against,
Stidhum objected. The trial court sustained the objection and ordered the testimony
stricken. The court immediately instructed the jurors to disregard the testimony.
{¶23} Toyeas prepared a photo lineup that included a picture of Stidhum. He
showed the lineup to five of the ten witnesses. According to Toyeas, Weber was very
upset that she could not identify the person she saw running away, and Homer
identified Stidhum as the man he saw running past him. Over objection, Toyeas
testified that Johnson, the passenger, identified Stidhum as the driver. When Stidhum
renewed his objection, the trial court sustained the objection and reminded Toyeas that
he could not discuss what other witnesses told him.
{¶24} Stidhum asked Toyeas why he did not show the lineup to all of the
eyewitnesses. When Toyeas again mentioned Johnson, Stidhum objected. The court
allowed Toyeas to finish his response, and he stated that Johnson identified Stidhum as
the driver with 100 percent confidence. Upon further cross-examination, Toyeas
acknowledged that Johnson had retracted that identification.
{¶25} Barwick testified that she had purchased the car involved in the accident.
The last time she had seen the car was on December 5, 2015, the day before the accident.

Stidhum had driven her to work that morning, dropped her off, and drove away in the
{¶26} Tracy Sundermeier, a serologist and DNA analyst conducted DNA testing
on the items submitted by Toyeas. She testified that the license plate and license plate
frame contained an insufficient amount of DNA to test. Stidhum was the source of the
DNA profile obtained from the Sunkist can and the blood stain. Sundermeier could not
exclude Stidhum from the DNA profile obtained from the steering wheel and the
ignition switch swabs. She further explained that the portion of the population that
could not be excluded was one in 7,424 individuals. The swab from the gun contained
DNA from one major and two minor contributors. Sundermeier excluded Chatfield and
Stidhum as the major contributor.
{¶27} Officer Steve Peponis, who was an investigator for the Cincinnati Fugitive
Apprehension Squad at the time of the offense, was assigned to locate and arrest
Stidhum in December 2015. Peponis initially testified that Stidhum had been evasive
for about a year, but then clarified that he arrested Stidhum on January 8, 2016, less
than 30 days after the accident. During cross-examination, he testified that he had
previously arrested Stidhum for drug trafficking. When counsel objected, the trial court
instructed the jurors to disregard the testimony. Stidhum moved for a mistrial, which
was denied. Peponis later stated that he had had multiple investigations involving
Stidhum, and the trial court admonished him again. Counsel did not renew the request
for a mistrial.
{¶28} Peponis was the last witness to testify for the day. After his testimony, the
trial court again instructed the jurors and told them that “on at least two occasions, I
believe, you have been instructed to disregard a remark, that is extremely important.
That is a matter of law. You are to disregard a remark.” Then, the jurors were

discharged for the day.
{¶29} Officer William Summe, a patrol officer for the Springfield Township
Police Department, testified that he was patrolling on Ronald Reagan Highway at 9 a.m.
on November 21, 2015. Summe was monitoring traffic with a radar. A red Camaro
drove past him traveling at a speed of 96 m.p.h. Summe pulled out and activated his
lights and siren, and the car sped up. When Summe’s speed reached 110 m.p.h., he
slowed down and stopped his pursuit.
{¶30} Summe exited from the highway onto the Hamilton Avenue exit ramp. At
the end of the ramp, he saw that the Camaro had crashed into a Chevy Avalanche.
Summe learned that the driver of the Camaro was a young, black male dressed in red,
who had fled the scene. Summe called for other units to search for the driver.
{¶31} Officer Allen Fath, a patrol officer for the Mount Healthy Police
Department, pursued the suspect and ordered him to stop. When the driver failed to
stop, Fath unsuccessfully attempted to use his Taser. Eventually, the driver stopped
running when confronted by two other officers and was apprehended. Fath identified
the driver as Stidhum.
{¶32} The state rested, and Stidhum moved for an acquittal pursuant to Crim.R.
29. After the trial court overruled the motion, the defense rested.
{¶33} The trial court instructed the jury on the credibility of the identifications
and covered such issues as the witness’s degree of attention when observing the
offender, the accuracy of a prior description by the witness, surrounding circumstances
under which the witness identified the offender, and the interval of time between the
event and the identification. The court also instructed the jurors on the proper use of
the other-acts evidence.
{¶34} Following deliberations, the jury found Stidhum guilty as charged. At the

sentencing hearing, the trial court merged the aggravated vehicular homicide with the
vehicular homicide and imposed an aggregate sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment, and a
three-years-to-life license suspension. Stidhum then requested an indigency hearing.
Stidhum stated that his family had hired his attorney, he had no savings or assets, he
had no way to earn an income for the next 12 years, and he had nothing of value to sell.
The court determined he was indigent by choice and imposed a maximum fine of
$15,000 for the second-degree felony. The court informed him that community service
would be available if he could not pay the fine. Identification Testimony
{¶35} In his first assignment of error, Stidhum argues that the trial court erred
in allowing Crawford, Luebbers, and Weber to identify him in court because a first-time
in-court identification is inherently suggestive and unreliable. He further argues that
where identity is an issue, an in-court identification that is not preceded by a successful
identification in a nonsuggestive procedure or prescreened by the trial court violates due
{¶36} Whether the Due Process Clause requires the suppression of an
eyewitness identification involves a two-step inquiry. See Perry v. New Hampshire, 565
U.S. 228, 238, 132 S.Ct. 716, 181 L.Ed.2d 694 (2012). First, the court must determine
whether “law enforcement officers use[d] an identification procedure that is both
suggestive and unnecessary.” Id. If so, the court must determine whether under the
“ ‘totality of the circumstances,’ ” id. at 239, quoting Manson v. Brathwaite, 432 U.S.
98, 110, 97 S.Ct. 2243, 53 L.Ed.2d 140 (1977), the identification was nonetheless
“reliable,” and admissible, even though the confrontation procedure was “unnecessarily
suggestive.” Id., citing Neil v. Biggers, 409 U.S. 188, 199-200, 93 S.Ct. 375, 34 L.Ed.2d
401 (1972); State v. Neal, 1st Dist. Hamilton No. C-140677, 2015-Ohio-4705, ¶ 28.

{¶37} In the second step, the court should focus on a number of factors in
evaluating the witness’s ability to make an accurate identification, which include (1) the
witness's opportunity to view the defendant during the crime, (2) the witness’s degree of
attention, (3) the accuracy of the witness’s prior description of the suspect, (4) the
witness’s certainty, and (5) the time elapsed between the crime and the identification.
Perry at fn. 5.
{¶38} If there is no showing that the police employed an unduly suggestive and
unnecessary procedure to obtain the identification, then the unreliability of the
identification alone will not preclude its admission at trial. Id. at 238-239. Instead,
such unreliability should be exposed through the rigors of cross-examination at trial and
the protections built into the adversary system, such as the right to the effective
assistance of counsel, the right to confront the witness, and the rules of evidence. Id. at
245-246; see State v. Hogan, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 11AP-644, 2012-Ohio-1421, ¶ 11.
The undue-suggestiveness framework is not premised on the unreliability of evidence
alone, but “turn[s] on the presence of state action and aim[s] to deter police from
rigging identification procedures.” Perry at 233.
{¶39} Here, Stidhum makes no showing that the state employed an unduly
suggestive and unnecessary procedure. Instead, he requests that this court adopt a new
rule of law and find that all first-time, in-court identifications are inherently suggestive
and violate due process unless preceded by a successful identification in a nonsuggestive
procedure or prescreened by the trial court. We decline to do so. “The fallibility of
eyewitness evidence does not, without the taint of improper state conduct, warrant a due
process rule requiring a trial court to screen such evidence for reliability before allowing
the jury to assess its creditworthiness.” Id. at 245.
{¶40} Accordingly, we overrule the first assignment of error.

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
{¶41} In his second assignment of error, Stidhum argues that his trial counsel
was ineffective for failing to object to the in-court identifications, a witness’s opinion
that Stidhum was guilty, and irrelevant testimony about the DNA testing of a gun, and
for eliciting damaging testimony. He further contends that the cumulative effect of
counsel's errors and omissions resulted in the denial of his right to the effective
assistance of counsel. We have already concluded that the in-court identifications were
admissible, so the failure to object was not deficient.
{¶42} To prevail on an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim, Stidhum must
show that trial counsel's performance fell below an objective standard of
reasonableness, and that he was prejudiced as a result. Strickland v. Washington, 466
U.S. 668, 687-688, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984). In order to demonstrate
prejudice, Stidhum must establish that, but for counsel’s errors, there is a reasonable
probability that the result of trial would have been different. State v. Burke, 97 Ohio
St.3d 55, 2002-Ohio-5310, 776 N.E.2d 79, ¶ 6. The failure to make an adequate showing
on either prong is fatal to an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim. See Strickland at
{¶43} The scope of cross-examination is considered a trial strategy, and
debatable trial tactics do not establish ineffective assistance. State v. Conway, 109 Ohio
St.3d 412, 2006-Ohio-2815, 848 N.E.2d 810, ¶ 101, citing State v. Hoffner, 102 Ohio
St.3d 358, 2004-Ohio-3430, 811 N.E.2d 48, ¶ 45. Moreover, an appellate court “ ‘must
not scrutinize trial counsel’s strategic decision to engage, or not engage, in a particular
line of questioning on cross-examination.’ ” State v. Dorsey, 10th Dist. Franklin No.
04AP-737, 2005-Ohio-2334, ¶ 22, quoting In re Brooks, 10th Dist. Franklin Nos. 04AP
164, 04AP-202, 04AP-165 and 04AP-201, 2004-Ohio-3887, ¶ 40.

{¶44} Stidhum contends that his counsel was ineffective for failing to object
when Luebbers offered an opinion regarding Stidhum’s guilt. However, Luebbers did
not offer an opinion on Stidhum’s guilt. Luebbers was questioned regarding the basis
for her in-court identification, and she testified that she believed the correct person was
arrested “based on the detective work.” This testimony undermined the reliability of her
identification. Instead of objecting, counsel vigorously and thoroughly cross-examined
Luebbers in an effort to further impeach her credibility. Trial counsel’s decision to
cross-examine the witness regarding the statements, rather than object, was a matter of
defense strategy and trial tactics, and therefore, does not constitute ineffective
assistance. See id.
{¶45} Next Stidhum claims that counsel was ineffective for eliciting damaging
testimony from Toyeas regarding Johnson’s identification of Stidhum as the driver of
the car. Counsel questioned Toyeas on his decision to show a lineup to only five of the
eyewitnesses. The moment Toyeas mentioned Johnson by name, counsel immediately
interrupted him and objected, preventing Toyeas from answering the question. The
state also objected, and the trial court determined that the testimony was admissible
and allowed Toyeas to answer the question.
{¶46} Toyeas stated that he did not show a lineup to any additional witnesses
because Homer had identified Stidhum with 75 percent confidence, and Johnson had
identified Stidhum with 100 percent confidence. Counsel then elicited testimony from
Toyeas that Johnson had retracted her initial statement. Because counsel objected to
the response from Toyeas and effectively cross-examined the witness, we cannot
conclude that counsel was ineffective.
{¶47} Stidhum next argues that his counsel was ineffective for failing to object to
testimony regarding a DNA test of a gun. Sundermeier, the serologist who conducted

the DNA testing, testified that two swabs from a Taurus pistol were given to her for
testing. She obtained a mixed DNA profile from the gun with one major contributor.
Chatfield and Stidhum were excluded as donors of the major DNA profile. She could not
compare the minor profiles because the sample was insufficient. Although the
testimony was irrelevant, Stidhum has failed to demonstrate that, but for counsel's
deficient performance, the result of the proceeding would have been different.
Therefore, he has failed to meet his burden to show ineffective assistance of counsel.
See Strickland 466 U.S. at 687-689, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674.
{¶48} We overrule the second assignment of error. Failure to Preserve Evidence
{¶49} Stidhum’s third assignment of error contends that the destruction of the
recordings of nine witnesses deprived him of his right to present a defense and his right
to confront the witnesses. Stidhum argues that the recorded statements were material
to his defense, and without the recorded statements, he could not effectively confront
the witnesses against him.
{¶50} We first note that these constitutional arguments were not raised before
the trial court. Although Stidhum filed a motion to dismiss based on the state’s failure
to provide Crawford’s recorded statement and a motion to suppress her identification
testimony, Stidhum did not raise these constitutional issues in his motions and assigned
no error based on the trial court’s rulings on those motions.
{¶51} Issues not raised in the trial court will be reviewed on appeal for plain
error. State v. Williams, 79 Ohio St.3d 1, 12, 679 N.E.2d 646 (1997). “Notice of plain
error * * * is to be taken with the utmost caution, under exceptional circumstances and
only to prevent a manifest miscarriage of justice.” State v. Long, 53 Ohio St.2d 91, 372
N.E.2d 804 (1978), paragraph three of the syllabus. An appellant must demonstrate

that an error affected the outcome of the trial and must be corrected to prevent a
manifest miscarriage of justice. See State v. Rogers, 143 Ohio St.3d 385, 2015-Ohio
2459, 38 N.E.3d 860, ¶ 22-23.
{¶52} Here, the tapes in question were recordings of witness statements made
by Toyeas on the day of the accident. Toyeas listened to the recordings and transcribed
written summaries of the statements that contained all of the pertinent information. He
copied the recordings onto discs that he provided to the prosecution, but those discs
could not be found. Although Toyeas believed that he had also copied the recordings
onto his computer hard drive, the recordings could not be located on the computer by an
IT specialist.
{¶53} Stidhum contends that the summary of the statements hampered his
ability to effectively prepare his defense and cross-examine the witnesses, but he
provides no basis for this assertion. He does not allege that critical facts were omitted
from the statements prepared by Toyeas. After reviewing the record, we find the
witnesses’ testimony was consistent with the written summaries, and that even without
the recorded statements, defense counsel effectively cross-examined the witnesses and
challenged their credibility. Therefore, we cannot conclude that the absence of the
recordings affected the outcome of the trial or caused a miscarriage of justice. See id.
Stidhum was not deprived of his right to present a defense or his right to confront the
witnesses, and we overrule the third assignment of error. Motion for Mistrial
{¶54} In his fourth assignment of error, Stidhum argues that the trial court
erred in denying his request for a mistrial. Stidhum further argues that he was deprived
of his right to a fair trial because the jury repeatedly heard inadmissible testimony
regarding his prior criminal convictions.

{¶55} The granting or denial of a motion for a mistrial rests in the sound
discretion of the trial court. State v. Ahmed, 103 Ohio St.3d 27, 2004-Ohio-4190, 813
N.E.2d 637, ¶ 92, citing Ohio v. Glover, 35 Ohio St.3d 18, 19, 517 N.E.2d 900 (1988).
The trial court need not declare a mistrial “unless the ends of justice so require and a fair
trial is no longer possible.” State v. Franklin, 62 Ohio St.3d 118, 127, 580 N.E.2d 1
(1991). The trial court is in the best position to determine whether the circumstances
warrant the declaration of a mistrial. Ahmed at ¶ 92.
{¶56} Stidhum moved for a mistrial based on Peponis’s testimony that he had
previously arrested Stidhum for drug trafficking. When counsel objected, the trial court
immediately instructed the jurors to disregard Peponis’s remark. Stidhum’s subsequent
request for a mistrial was denied. Peponis later stated that he had participated in
multiple investigations involving Stidhum, and the trial court admonished him again.
Counsel did not renew the request for a mistrial. After Peponis’s testimony ended, the
trial court again instructed the jurors and told them to disregard Peponis’s remarks.
{¶57} In light of the trial court’s multiple curative instructions, the trial court’s
decision to deny motion for a mistrial was not an abuse of discretion. We presume that
the jury followed the court’s instructions, including instructions to disregard testimony.
State v. Loza, 71 Ohio St.3d 61, 75, 641 N.E.2d 1082 (1994). Accordingly, we overrule
the fourth assignment of error. Other-acts Evidence
{¶58} In his fifth assignment of error, Stidhum contends that the trial court
erred by permitting the state to introduce evidence of a prior bad act. Specifically,
Stidhum argues that the testimony establishing that, 15 days earlier, he had recklessly
caused a car accident and had fled the scene was irrelevant and unduly prejudicial.
{¶59} A trial court’s decision regarding the admissibility of other-acts evidence

is an evidentiary determination that is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. State v.
Morris, 132 Ohio St.3d 337, 2012-Ohio-2407, 972 N.E.2d 528, syllabus.
{¶60} Generally the prosecution may not present evidence that the defendant
has committed other crimes or acts to prove a defendant’s character as to criminal
propensity. Evid.R. 404(B). Other-acts evidence of a certain modus operandi is
admissible under Evid.R. 404(B) “because it provides a behavioral fingerprint which,
when compared to the behavioral fingerprints associated with the crime in question, can
be used to identify the defendant as the perpetrator.” State v. Lowe, 69 Ohio St.3d 527,
531, 634 N.E.2d 616 (1994). But to be admitted for this purpose, evidence of other acts
“must be related to and share common features with the crime in question.” Id.
{¶61} When considering other-acts evidence, the Ohio Supreme Court has
established a three-step analysis: “(1) Is the evidence relevant to making any fact that is
of consequence to the determination of the action more or less probable than it would be
without the evidence? (2) Is the evidence of the other crimes, wrongs, or acts presented
to prove the character of the accused in order to show activity in conformity therewith or
is it presented for a legitimate purpose, such as those stated in Evid.R. 404(B)? (3) Is the
probative value of the other-acts evidence substantially outweighed by the danger of
unfair prejudice?” State v. Clinton, 153 Ohio St.3d 422, 2017-Ohio-9423, 108 N.E.3d 1,
¶ 97, citing State v. Williams, 134 Ohio St.3d 521, 2012-Ohio-5695, 983 N.E.2d 1278, ¶
{¶62} The state offered the testimony to prove Stidhum’s identity as the driver
of the car by establishing a behavioral fingerprint. In both instances, Stidhum was
speeding, lost control of his vehicle, hit another vehicle, and fled on foot because his car
was inoperable. The trial court concluded that those acts shared common features with
the crime in question and had occurred 15 days prior.

{¶63} Stidhum argues that the probative value was substantially outweighed by
the danger of unfair prejudice. We find that it was not on the present facts. The trial
court’s limiting instruction “minimized the likelihood of any undue prejudice regarding
the jury's consideration of [the] testimony,” see State v. Jones, 135 Ohio St.3d 10, 2012
Ohio-5677, 984 N.E.2d 948, ¶ 194, and we presume that the jury has followed the
instructions given by the trial court. Loza, 71 Ohio St.3d 61 at 75, 641 N.E.2d 1082.
{¶64} We overrule the fifth assignment of error. Cumulative Error
{¶65} In his sixth assignment of error, Stidhum argues that the cumulative effect
of all of the errors denied him his right to a fair trial.
{¶66} The doctrine of cumulative error allows a conviction to be reversed if the
cumulative effect of errors, deemed separately harmless, deprived the defendant of his
right to a fair trial. See State v. DeMarco, 31 Ohio St.3d 191, 509 N.E.2d 1256 (1987),
paragraph two of the syllabus. “The doctrine of cumulative error is inapplicable where
there are not multiple instances of harmless error.” State v. Leach, 150 Ohio App.3d
567, 2002-Ohio-6654, 782 N.E.2d 631, ¶ 57 (1st Dist.).
{¶67} After reviewing the record and finding no errors, we cannot find
cumulative error. Accordingly, we overrule the assignment of error. The Fine
{¶68} In his seventh assignment of error, Stidhum argues that the trial court
erred in imposing a $15,000 fine because the court failed to consider his present and
future ability to pay.
{¶69} We review the imposition of a fine to determine whether it is clearly and
convincingly contrary to law. See State v. Owens, 1st Dist. Hamilton No. C-170413,
2018-Ohio-1853, ¶ 5; State v. Thornton, 2017-Ohio-4037, 91 N.E.3d 359, ¶ 12 (1st Dist.).

A sentencing court has the discretion to impose a fine of up to $15,000 for a felony of
the second degree. R.C. 2929.18(A)(3)(b). Before a court may impose a financial
sanction, R.C. 2929.19(B)(5) requires a court to consider “the offender’s present and
future ability to pay the amount of the sanction or fine.” As long as the record contains
some indication that the trial court considered the offender’s present and future ability
to pay the fine, the court’s imposition of a financial sanction is not contrary to law. State
v. Collier, 184 Ohio App.3d 247, 2009-Ohio-4652, 920 N.E.2d 416, ¶ 11 (10th Dist.).
{¶70} The record contains evidence that the trial court considered Stidhum’s
present and future ability to pay. The court held an indigency hearing and determined
that Stidhum was indigent. But indigency alone does not preclude the imposition of a
fine. See State v. Gipson, 80 Ohio St.3d 626, 687 N.E.2d 750 (1998) (determining that
the defendant’s indigency at the time of sentencing does not preclude a trial court from
imposing a fine upon the defendant); State v. Ficklin, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 99191,
2013-Ohio-3002, ¶ 13 (recognizing that “ ‘indigency’ refers to a present financial ability
and ‘is unable to pay’ encompasses a future ability to pay as well”).
{¶71} The record contains no evidence that Stidhum would not be employable
upon his release from prison. In the event that he is unable to pay the fine upon his
release, the trial court specifically notified him that he could do community service in
lieu of paying the fine.
{¶72} Based on this record, we find that the trial court considered Stidhum’s
present and future ability to pay a fine. Accordingly, we overrule the seventh
assignment of error.

Outcome: Having considered and overruled Stidhum’s seven assignments of error,
we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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