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Date: 05-02-2021

Case Style:

STATE OF OHIO vs. RICKY REYNOLDS

Case Number: C-190710

Judge: Candace C. Crouse

Court: IN THE COURT OF APPEALS FIRST APPELLATE DISTRICT OF OHIO HAMILTON COUNTY, OHIO

Plaintiff's Attorney: Andrew Garth, Interim City Solicitor, William T. Horsely, City Prosecutor, and Chris
Konitzer, Assistant City Prosecutor

Defendant's Attorney:


Criminal Defense Lawyer Directory


Description:

Cincinnati, Ohio - Criminal defense attorney represented Ricky Reynolds with a domestic violence charge



{¶3} Heather Reynolds testified that on October 31, 2019, she and
defendant-appellant Ricky Reynolds argued about whether to take their children
trick or treating. She testified that Reynolds wrapped his arm around her neck and
pulled her to the floor, causing her to black out. As she stood up, he hit her in the
face and “stomped” on her leg. She testified the incident occurred between 5:00 and
6:00 p.m.
{¶4} Four days later, on November 4, 2019, Reynolds called police and
reported that Heather had stolen some of his prescription medication. Cincinnati
Police Officer James Mathews responded to Reynolds’s apartment. Mathews testified
that Heather showed up at the apartment shortly after he arrived. He told Heather
about Reynolds’s allegation. In response, she told him that Reynolds had abused her
and showed him injuries she claimed were inflicted by Reynolds—a cut on her lip and
a bruise on her leg. Mathews photographed Heather’s injuries, and the state
admitted two of the photographs into evidence. OHIO FIRST DISTRICT COURT OF APPEALS
3
{¶5} The defense admitted two photographs of Heather taken on October
30, 2019, that showed a mark on her lip in the same spot as the cut depicted in state’s
exhibit one.
{¶6} Reynolds offered the alibi testimony of his son Tommy Reynolds and
his brother Alan Philpot. Tommy testified that on October 31, 2019, he was with
Reynolds from approximately 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. He testified that they left
Reynolds’s apartment around 4:00 to go to Philpot’s house because Reynolds wanted
to borrow a tool from Philpot. Philpot was not home, so they passed the time at
McDonald’s for a while. They returned to Philpot’s, but he was still not home, so they
went to Walmart. They returned to Philpot’s a third time and waited in his driveway
until Philpot arrived home at approximately 7:00 p.m. Tommy testified that
Reynolds dropped him off at his house at approximately 8:00 p.m.
{¶7} Philpot testified that he went trick or treating with his children on
October 31, 2019, and returned home at approximately 7:00 p.m. Reynolds had
come over to exchange tools and was waiting for him in his driveway.
Alibi Defense
{¶8} In his first assignment of error, Reynolds contends that the trial court
erred by shifting the burden of persuasion to him to prove his alibi defense,
depriving him of a fair trial.
{¶9} Alibi is not an affirmative defense. The burden of proof remains with
the prosecution to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. State v.
Sorrels, 71 Ohio App.3d 162, 167, 593 N.E.2d 313 (1st Dist.1991). “Accordingly, any
doubt arising from the defendant’s alibi goes to the weakness of the state’s case. If
the doubt created either by the alibi, or by the weakness of the state’s case, or by OHIO FIRST DISTRICT COURT OF APPEALS
4
both, rises to the level of reasonable doubt as to the defendant’s guilt, an acquittal is
required.” Id.
{¶10} In Sorrels, the defendant was accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend.
Id. at 164. He presented four alibi witnesses who testified that at the time of the
alleged assault the defendant was with them at a fraternity meeting. Id. The trial
court stated, “Whether the defendant did it or not-he’s got alibi witnesses who have
established different times. It is possible for him to have been there and the finding
is guilty.” Id. at 166. Later, in denying the defendant’s motion for a new trial, the
trial court stated, “I still recall that the single thing that occurred to this Court was
that the alibi was not an ironclad alibi. As you know, an alibi is only good if it’s an
ironclad one.” Id. at 167. Based on the trial court’s statements, this court held that
the court had erred by shifting the burden of persuasion to the defendant for his alibi
defense. Id. at 167.
{¶11} In the present case, the trial court stated:
State’s Exhibits No. 1 and No. 2 clearly depict physical abuse to Ms.
Reynolds, and like a lot of women who are in abusive relationships they
do not, for various reasons, report it to the police right away. But it was
reported four days later, and then documented by the police. I found her
testimony to be credible. She said that would be impossible to create this
own injury to your leg that’s depicted on State’s Exhibit No. 2 so I’m not
sure what the theory of the defense case is, but perhaps it’s somebody else
did it, and that she is then not blaming this other person for some reason
and then choosing to then pin it on her husband. That doesn’t make any
sense. It’s not common sense that someone would give a free pass to OHIO FIRST DISTRICT COURT OF APPEALS
5
some other person that’s abusive, and then instead turn around and
blame her husband. She, from my viewpoint, presents as a textbook
example of a woman that has been living with abuse for too long.
I find the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Reynolds did
cause this harm here, committed domestic violence on Halloween
evening, and I’ll entering [sic] a finding of guilty.
{¶12} Reynolds argues that the court’s statements demonstrate that he
shifted the burden of persuasion to him to prove his alibi defense. We disagree. The
credibility of the witnesses in an alibi case will often be a deciding factor. The trial
court had to weigh Heather’s and Tommy’s testimony along with the other evidence
and decide who was telling the truth. In doing so, the court did not err by weighing
the theory of the defense against Heather’s testimony to determine which was more
believable.
{¶13} Furthermore, the trial court stated, “I find the state proved beyond a
reasonable doubt that Mr. Reynolds did cause this harm here, committed domestic
violence.” That statement allays any doubt as to whether the court held the state to
its burden of proof. See, e.g., State v. Walton, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 96133, 2011-
Ohio-5662, ¶ 18 (where the Eighth District held that the trial court’s comment that
the defendant “failed to overcome” the strength of the victim’s identification did not
amount to a shifting of the burden of persuasion where the court found that “based
upon the totality of the evidence” the defendant was guilty “beyond a reasonable
doubt”).
{¶14} The court did not shift the burden of persuasion to Reynolds. The first
assignment of error is overruled. OHIO FIRST DISTRICT COURT OF APPEALS
6
Manifest Weight of the Evidence
{¶15} In reviewing a claim that a conviction is against the manifest weight of
the evidence, “we review the record, weigh the evidence and all reasonable
inferences, consider the credibility of the witnesses, and determine whether the trier
of fact, in resolving conflicts in the evidence, ‘clearly lost its way and created such a
manifest miscarriage of justice that the conviction must be overturned.’ ” State v.
Martin, 20 Ohio App.3d 172, 175, 485 N.E.2d 717 (1st Dist.1983). Reversal of a
conviction and a grant of a new trial should only be done in “exceptional cases in
which the evidence weighs heavily against the conviction.” Id.
{¶16} “The trier of fact is in the best position to judge the credibility of the
witnesses and the weight to be given to the evidence presented.” State v. Carson, 1st
Dist. Hamilton No. C-180336, 2019-Ohio-4550, ¶ 16. Regarding Reynolds’s alibi
defense, the trial court expressly found Heather to be credible.
{¶17} With the two photographs of Heather from October 30, 2019, the
defense attempted to show that Heather had a cut on her lip prior to her
confrontation with Reynolds. The state’s theory was that when Reynolds hit Heather
on October 31, 2019, he aggravated an existing wound. State’s exhibit one does seem
to show that the cut on Heather’s lip is a deeper and more recent cut than the mark
depicted in defense exhibits one and two.
{¶18} After reviewing the record in this case, we find that the trial court did
not clearly lose its way in believing Heather’s testimony, and this is not one of those
“exceptional cases in which the evidence weighs heavily against the conviction.” See
Martin at 175. The second assignment of error is overruled. OHIO FIRST DISTRICT COURT OF APPEALS
7

Outcome: Both assignments of error are overruled and the judgment of the trial
court is affirmed.

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