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Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Appeals Court Sends Deadly Crash Case Back to Trial Court

An appeals court ruling will send the case of an Akron woman convicted for a 2010 deadly car crash back to Summit County Common Pleas Court.

Shauntae Marie Hill is currently serving a prison term for the death of a 5-month-old girl. On August 29, 2010, Hill slammed into the passenger side of Lynette Hayward’s car and killed Hayward’s granddaughter. In addition to a six-year prison term for aggravated vehicular homicide, Hill was sentenced to 24 days in jail for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and had her driving privileges suspended for life.

In the Ninth District Court of Appeals decision, Judge Donna Carr stated that the trial court made an error when it failed to merge Hill’s convictions for the two offenses.

“The current test for determining whether multiple offenses constitute allied offenses for sentencing purposes is set forth in State v. Johnson, 128 Ohio St.3d 153, 2010-Ohio-6314,” Judge Carr wrote. “During the sentencing hearing, the trial court did not conduct an analysis pursuant to Johnson to determine whether aggravated vehicular homicide and operating a vehicle while under the influence were allied offenses of similar import subject to merger.”

Because of that, the case was sent back to the trial court for further action. The appeals court rejected other claims Hill made, including that her convictions were against the manifest weight of evidence.

“A thorough review of the record indicates that this is not the exceptional case where the evidence weighs heavily in favor of Hill. The weight of the evidence supports the conclusion that Hill was intoxicated while she was driving both before and at the time she drove into the side of Hayward’s car,” Judge Carr wrote.

Judge Beth Whitmore agreed with the decision, while Judge Eve Belfance agreed with the judgment only. The Ninth District Court of Appeals has jurisdiction in four counties and is based in Akron.

State v. Hill, 2013-Ohio-4022
Appeal From:  Summit County Common Pleas Court
Judgment Appealed From Is: Reversed in Part and Remanded
Date of Judgment Entry on Appeal: September 18, 2013

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