Mr. Jemison … used his vehicle as a weapon against the troopers in a manner similar to that of a knife or a firearm. Therefore … the state provided sufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdict finding Mr. Jemison guilty of felonious assault against both Tr. Doebrich and Tr. Lee beyond a reasonable doubt.
State v. Jemison
2022 – Ohio – 3597
Twelfth District Appellate Court
Warren County, Ohio
October 11, 2022
On the morning of Monday August 30, 2021, after Trooper Kyle Roddy initiated a traffic stop on Mr. Duane Jemison for making an improper lane change while traveling on northbound I-71 near mile marker 40 in Warren County, Ohio. The pursuit of Mr. Jemison’s vehicle took place over approximately forty miles and extended into at least three ciounties with speeds approaching 100 miles per hour. The pursuit ultimately concluded after stop sticks were deployed and Mr. Jemison’s vehicle’s front passenger tire deflated and came apart, thereby requiring Mr. Jemison to drive on the wheel’s rim.
Mr. Jemison deliberately accelerated and rammed his vehicle into both Trooper Kyle Doebrich’s and Trooper Brent Lee’s cruisers while the troopers were attempting to stop Mr. Jemison’s vehicle. The evidence also established that the resulting collisions between Mr. Jemison’s vehicle and Tr. Doebrich’s and Tr. Lee’s cruisers caused both troopers to sustain neck and back soreness/stiffness.
Following deliberations, the jury returned a verdict finding Mr. Jemison guilty of two counts of First Degree Felony Assault. Shortly thereafter, on March 3, 2022, the trial court held a sentencing hearing and sentenced Mr. Jemison to serve two concurrent three to four-and-one-half year prison terms for those two offenses. The trial court also ordered Mr. Jemison to pay $9,003.58 in restitution to the Ohio State Highway Patrol and suspended Mr. Jemison’s driver’s license for a period of ten years.
Mr. Jemison filed a timely appeal.
As noted above, the jury found Mr. Jemison guilty of two counts of first-degree felony felonious assault against Tr. Doebrich and Tr. Lee in violation of O.R.C. §2903.11(A)(2). This required the state to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Mr. Jemison “knowingly” caused or attempted to cause “physical harm” to both Tr. Doebrich and Tr. Lee “by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance.” See State v. Eitzman, 2022-Ohio-574, ¶ 11, citing O.R.C. §2903.11(A)(2). “A person acts knowingly, regardless of purpose, when the person is aware that the person’s conduct will probably cause a certain result or will probably be of a certain nature.” O.R.C. §2901.22(B). The phrase “physical harm to persons” is defined by O.R.C. §2901.01(A)(3) to mean “[A]ny injury, illness, or other physiological impairment, regardless of its gravity or duration.”.
Was Mr. Jemison’s Car a Deadly Weapon?
O.R.C. §2923.11(A) defines the term “deadly weapon” to mean “any instrument, device, or thing capable of inflicting death, and designed or specially adapted for use as a weapon, or possessed, carried, or used as a weapon.” “[A]n instrumentality can become ‘deadly’ depending upon the manner and the situation in which it is used.” State v. Griffith, 1996 Ohio App. LEXIS 4539, *15 (Oct. 14, 1996), citing State v. Deboe, 62 Ohio App.2d 192, 193 (6th Dist.1977). “It is well-established that an automobile can be classified as a deadly weapon under R.C. 2923.11 when used in a manner likely to produce death or great bodily harm.” State v. Upham, 1997 Ohio App. LEXIS 1992, *5 (May 12, 1997); State v. Hudson, 2012-Ohio-5614, ¶ 25. “The determination of whether an automobile is a deadly weapon is a question of fact for the jury.” State v. Jones,1999 Ohio App. LEXIS 4160, *14-*15 (Sept. 7, 1999).
In this case, we find there was more than enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Jemison knowingly caused or attempted to cause physical harm to both Tr. Doebrich and Tr. Lee by means of a deadly weapon when he deliberately – not accidentally – accelerated and rammed his vehicle into each of their cruisers, thereby causing both troopers to sustain physical harm to their persons in the form of neck and back soreness/stiffness. This holds true even though Mr. Jemison was ultimately unsuccessful in his efforts to escape apprehension either by seriously injuring the troopers or by completely disabling the troopers’ cruisers when he intentionally collided with them. This is because, rather than simply using his vehicle as means to effectuate his escape, Mr. Jemison instead used his vehicle as a weapon against the troopers in a manner similar to that of a knife or a firearm. Therefore, because the state provided sufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdict finding Mr. Jemison guilty of felonious assault against both Tr. Doebrich and Tr. Lee beyond a reasonable doubt, Mr. Jemison’s two assignments of error lack merit and are overruled.
Postscript: The jury also found Mr. Jemison guilty of one count of third-degree felony failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer in violation of O.R.C. §2921.331(B). Mr. Jemison did not challenge that verdict that found him guilty of that offense, because there was no reasonable challenge.
Information for this case was obtained from State v. Jemison, 2022 – Ohio – 3597.
This case was issued by the Twelfth District Appellate Court and is only binding in the following Ohio Counties: Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Fayette, Madison, Preble and Warren.
- When a suspect’s vehicle strikes an officer or cruiser, that in and of itself may not criminally rise to the level of felonious assault. What is the key factor is the intent of the suspect. Here, the Twelfth District Appellate Court addressed that issue when it opined “This is because, rather than simply using his vehicle as means to effectuate his escape, Mr. Jemison instead used his vehicle as a weapon against the troopers in a manner similar to that of a knife or a firearm.”.
- Felonious Assault O.R.C. §2903.11(A)(2), requires the mens rea of knowingly. This is the highest of the legal mens rea and has been interpreted “A person acts knowingly, regardless of purpose, when the person is aware that the person’s conduct will probably cause a certain result or will probably be of a certain nature.” O.R.C. §2901.22(B) State v. Eitzman, 2022-Ohio-574, ¶ 11. Here, Mr. Jemison’s actions were congruent with conduct that would probably cause a certain result of causing harm.
- Both Trooper Kyle Doebrich, and Trooper Brett Lee should be highly commended for their tenacity in removing Mr. Jemison from the streets. He was focused on causing harm to the community and the troopers protected people they never met by placing their own lives in danger. Well done Trooper Kyle Doebrich, and Trooper Brett Lee!
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