Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Appeals Court Finds Problems in Marion Arsonist’s Case

An appeals court has found errors in the sentencing and restitution orders against a man serving a sentence for a 2011 arson and burglary that affected multiple Marion businesses.

The blaze was started after a burglary on December 29, 2011, at Servex Electronics, and seven of the neighboring businesses sustained damage. Craig A. Love pleaded guilty to the incident and was sentenced to a total of 14 years in prison. Love was also ordered to pay more than $175,000 in restitution to six of the businesses.

In a 2-1 decision, the Third District Court of Appeals has ruled that some of the counts against Love should have been merged by the Marion County Court of Common Pleas and that damages some of the fire victims claimed should not have been allowed.

Appeals Judge Stephen Shaw noted offenses may be merged if the criminal act committed is part of the “same course of conduct.”

“The trial court merged Counts 4 and 13, a Vandalism and an Arson against Servex, which given our analysis, is appropriate. Based on the same analysis, the trial court’s failure to merge Counts 5 and 14, a Vandalism and an Arson against the same victim—Craig Miller Insurance—was error, as the victim is the same and there was only a single course of conduct,” Judge Shaw wrote.

The appeals court panel looked at case law when it decided that more than $50,000 in court-ordered restitution was improper.

“There is no conviction against Love related to the damages done to GT Professional Services, Stumpo’s Pizza, Advance America, or the Tobacco Warehouse,” Judge Shaw stated. “Unless there was an agreement between the parties according to the written plea agreement, the restitution to these ‘victims’ would be facially invalid. In this case, the written plea agreement does not contain such an agreement.”

Judge Shaw also wrote that restitution should have been limited to actual economic loss and “depreciation was not appropriate in this case.”

Judge Shaw was joined by Judge John Williamowski in sending the case back to the trial court for resentencing related to merging offenses and to vacate some of the awards of restitution. Judge Richard Rogers dissented from the majority opinion.

“Because there was so much confusion between the parties, and by the trial court, as to which counts or victims the pleas were being made I would vacate the plea and remand this matter to the trial court,” Judge Rogers wrote.

State v. Love, 2014-Ohio-437
Criminal Appeal From: Marion County Court of Common Pleas
Judgment Appealed From Is: Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded
Date of Judgment Entry on Appeal: February 10, 2014

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