Court upholds robbery conviction

Larry Limpf

News Editor

The Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of a man for a robbery that occurred in September, 2020 at the America’s Best Value Inn and Suites in Northwood.
John E. Stevenson had appealed the guilty verdict of the Wood County Common Pleas Court. The charge, a second degree felony, stemmed from an incident in which three out-of-state construction workers claimed there were robbed of cell phones and a gaming system by two armed assailants in their hotel room.
In his appeal, Stevenson argued the trial court erred by allowing impermissible hearsay at trial in violation of the confrontation clause of the Sixth Amendment.
The police investigation took months to identify Stevenson as one of the assailants and by the time the trial took place the victims had left the area and couldn’t be reached to testify.
Over Stevenson’s objections, the prosecution played video during the trial from a police officer’s body cam showing his conversations with the victims and several witnesses on the night of the incident.
One of the victims had run from the hotel to a nearby gas station where he called the police who interviewed him at the station before entering the hotel.
The appeals court ruled that much of the dash cam footage was admissible because it met exceptions in evidentiary rules and where the trial court erred in allowing other footage the error was harmless.
“Appellant (Stevenson) argues that without the body cam video, there was insufficient evidence to identify him as the assailant. However, the state presented other evidence identifying appellant as the assailant,” the appeals court wrote. “The hotel surveillance video contained images of appellant, including his tattoos, which the appellant himself displayed to the jury during the trial. Appellant’s Facebook profile also contained photos of appellant’s tattoos and of him wearing shoes in a similar style as in the surveillance video.
“Accordingly, the state presented sufficient evidence to establish appellant’s identity without the body cam video of Officer Hunt’s conversations with the victims. Although the trial court erred in admitting the bodycam video from the hotel with the time stamp…the error was harmless. Therefore, we find appellant’s arguments regarding the body cam video in support of his assignment of error not well-taken.”
Stevenson was sentenced to six to nine years in prison.


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