Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Appeal Denied in Father’s Day Murder Case

A Butler County man convicted of killing his stepfather on Father’s Day last year remains in prison after an attempt to have the conviction thrown out was denied by the Twelfth District Court of Appeals.

Michael Jacob Ray was sentenced last October to 15 years to life in prison for the June 17, 2012, stabbing death of Brian Schmidt in their St. Clair Township home. The two argued when Schmidt confronted the then-18-year-old Ray about his underage drinking. While he admitted to the stabbing, Ray claimed it was in self-defense in response to being hit by Schmidt. In his appeal, Ray claimed the trial court did not properly instruct the jury that he had no duty to retreat from the assault.

In the decision, Judge Robert A. Hendrickson cited the 1986 Supreme Court of Ohio ruling in State v. Jackson: “As made clear by the Supreme Court of Ohio, ‘the elements of self-defense are cumulative. In order to prevail on the issue of self-defense, the accused must show that he was not at fault in starting the affray, and that he had a bona fide belief that he faced imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that his only means of escape was the use of such force, and that he violated no duty to retreat or avoid the danger.’”

Judge Hendrickson adds Ray failed to provide evidence that he faced either great bodily harm or that in order to stop his stepfather’s attack he had to use a hunting knife: “Appellant used deadly force when he was not faced with deadly force, only fists.”

While the appeals court decision does acknowledge it would have been appropriate for the trial judge to instruct the jury that Ray did not have a duty to retreat, the court found that the omission “was not prejudicial as it did not affect appellant's substantial rights.”

Judges Stephen W. Powell and Robert P. Ringland agreed with opinion filed August 26.

The Twelfth District Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over eight counties, Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Fayette, Madison, Preble and Warren, and its central office is located in Middletown.

State v. Ray, 2013-Ohio-3671
Opinion: http://sc.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/12/2013/2013-ohio-3671.pdf
Criminal Appeal From: Butler County Court of Common Pleas
Judgment: Conviction affirmed
Date of Judgment Entry on Appeal: Aug. 26, 2013

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