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Court News Ohio

Appeals Court Upholds Woman’s Multi-Year Sentence

A home healthcare aide convicted in a plot to rob an elderly Summit County man in her care has been denied an appeal of her 18-year sentence. In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the Ninth District Court of Appeals has affirmed Samantha Furman’s sentence.

Furman was sentenced for aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary for providing information that led to three men robbing and beating James Allen at his home on June 25, 2011. Allen was found unconscious the next day on the floor of his house.

The Summit County Court of Common Pleas found the charges against Furman were not allied offenses and sentenced her to nine years in prison for each offense, and ordered the terms to run consecutively. State law requires that multiple offenses must not be allied (meaning crimes of a similar or related type) in order for sentences to be imposed consecutively.

On appeal, the Ninth District reversed the sentence and ordered the trial court to resentence Furman applying the Supreme Court of Ohio’s decision in State v. Johnson (2010), in which the conduct of the defendant must be considered when determining if “two offenses are allied offenses of similar import subject to merger.” The trial court applied Johnson and imposed the same 18-year sentence.

Judge Jennifer Hensal stated the appeals court could only look at the records it had in determining the resentencing was appropriate, and those records did not include the trial court’s presentence investigation report.

“Under Appellate Rule 9, it was Ms. Furman’s ‘burden of providing an adequate record of the trial court’s proceedings, including all the necessary transcripts and documents, for this Court’s review,” Judge Hensal wrote. “[W]e do not have the same information that the trial court had when it determined whether Ms. Furman’s offenses were allied under Section 2941.25(A). Accordingly, as in Vitt, ‘we must presume the validity of the trial court’s sentencing with regard to its determination, pursuant to Johnson,’ that the aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery offenses do not merge.”

For that same reason, Judge Hensal also denied Furman’s claim that the trial court abused its discretion when it sentenced her to more than the minimum sentence and ordered the sentences to run consecutively.

Judges Donna Carr and Beth Whitmore concurred in the decision.

Furman claimed the only reason she provided details about how to get into Allen’s house and where to find valuable items is because she was threatened by one of the men. She also noted that she was not present during the incident, and that she contacted law enforcement with information about the crimes as soon as she learned that Allen had been injured.

State v. Furman, 2014-Ohio-20
Opinion: http://sc.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/9/2014/2014-ohio-20.pdf
Civil Appeal From: Summit County Court of Common Pleas
Judgment Appealed From Is: Affirmed
Date of Judgment Entry on Appeal: January 8, 2014

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