Tag Archives | Fair Trial

Convictions in Boys’ Deaths During Camping Trip Overturned

An Ohio Court of Appeals has over-turned a conviction of a couple for involuntary manslaughter related to the death of two boys on a camping trip.

The case is State v. Klein, 2013-Ohio-228.

The defendants were convicted of involuntary manslaughter and other crimes.

The facts occurred in 2011. Richard Klein and his wife, codefendant Kasey Klein, commenced a tent camping trip at Ellis Dam with Kasey’s sons, A.C. (age three) and A.J. (age two).

Emergency management officials were alerted that the boys were missing.  Rescue personnel eventually found A.C.’s body in the Muskingum River. The coroner subsequently determined that A.C.’s death was caused by accidental drowning. A.J. has never been found.

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Denial of Committing Crime on Date Alleged Is Insufficient to Warrant Dismissal of Delayed Indictment

An Ohio Court of Appeals has reinstated a drug trafficking indictment that the trial court had dismissed based upon alleged prejudice from a pre-indictment delay.

The case is State v. Brock, 2012-Ohio-6055.

On October 10, 2011, the defendant was indicted on one count of trafficking in drugs, in connection to an illegal drug transaction occurring on or about November 14, 2006.  The Defendant filed a motion to dismiss due to alleged prejudice from the pre-indictment delay.

The Defendant, at a hearing, conceded to selling marijuana on prior occasions, but “denied specific recollection of selling marijuana from his parents’ home on the date enumerated in the indictment.”  The trial court concluded that the state had failed to establish a justifiable reason for the delay in indictment and dismissed the case.

The law in this case is if a defendant is able to show actual, substantial prejudice caused by the pre-indictment delay, the state is must demonstrate a justifiable reason for a pre-indictment delay.

The appeals court reversed.  The court said that the defendant’s “mere subjective denial of any recollection of selling drugs from his parents’ home on the date enumerated in the indictment does not constitute valuable exculpatory evidence so as to satisfy the requisite showing of actual prejudice.”  The court added that the defendant “did not deny past involvement in illegal drug transactions, but simply failed to recall engaging in such activity on the date and at the location delineated in the indictment.”

As a result, the appeals court determined that the defendant had failed to demonstrate actual prejudice.

 

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Cell Phone Location Does Not Require Expert Testimony

An Ohio Court of Appeals has held that testimony about the location of a cell phone, obtained from cell phone provider records, was not expert testimony.

The case is State v. Perry, 2012 Ohio 4888.

In this case, the defendant was a suspect in a series of burglaries.  As part of the case, the State offered testimony regarding triangulation pinpointing with cell phone towers.  In particular, the witness offered an opinion regarding the approximate whereabouts of a cell phone at the time of the various thefts. The defendant argued that the testimony about the location of the phone was expert testimony, and that the state have provided a report summarizing the testimony, findings, analysis, conclusion, or opinion 21 days before trial.

Instead of an expert report, the disclosed that it intended to call witnesses to testify concerning the authenticity of cell phone records and also provide technical insights into how cell phones operate in conjunction with different tower sites in order to provide geographical information.

The trial testimony was accomplished by reviewing the date and time a call was placed, then determining which cell-phone tower provided the service; a method known as ‘triangulation.’  Notably, the phone number located was not the defendant’s but an accomplice’s.  Most of the testimony concerned how a cell phone works, including how the phone utilizes nearby towers for connectivity.  The court concluded that the witness “simply compared the locations on the phone records to locations on the tower site maps by matching the relevant numbers recorded by the service provider.”  This was not expert testimony because “any layperson could make this determination by examining the respective exhibits.”

Because the testimony was not “expert” testimony, the state was not required to provide a report prior to trial.

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