Sharing of familial or financial responsibilities and Consortium
State v. Tilman
2022 – Ohio – 3928
Sixth Appellate District
Lucas County, Ohio
November 3, 2022
T.C. is an adult victim.
D.L. is the mother of the victim.
Just after midnight on Sunday March 28, 2021, a Lucas County 9-1-1 operator received a call from victim T.C.’s mother, D.L., who stated that T.C. called her to tell her to call the police because her boyfriend was physically assaulting her. The 9-1-1 recording was played for the jury.
T.C. testified that she met Mr. Antron Tilman in November 2020, and they began living together in her apartment the following month. T.C. stated that her six-year-old daughter lived with her as well. T.C. and her daughter were the only two listed on the lease. T.C. indicated that because she was living in HUD, or low-income housing, she was not permitted to have Mr. Tilman living with her if he was not on the lease. T.C. indicated that if the apartment manager found out that Mr. Tilman was living there she would be in trouble.
T.C. stated that Mr. Tilman was receiving mail at her address from Lucas County Children’s Services as well as credit card bills. T.C. identified a letter from children’s services addressed to Mr. Tilman at her apartment; it was admitted into evidence. T.C. stated that she, appellant, and her daughter would regularly share meals and time together, and they would spend time with each group of relatives. T.C. agreed that she and Mr. Tilman had an intimate relationship and shared a bed. She stated that Mr. Tilman “sometimes” helped with the household bills but acknowledged that his name was not on any of them. T.C. testified that the photographs admitted into evidence of garbage bags of clothes in her bedroom were appellant’s as well as a bag of toiletries. She explained that her closet was already too full for him to put them away. T.C. admitted that she told police that Mr. Tilman did not live in the home but that it was in the “heat of the moment.”.
On the date in question, T.C. stated that she, her daughter, and Mr. Tilman had been at the house of appellant’s relative and that Mr. Tilman had been drinking. Around 11:00 p.m., they decided to leave. Once home, T.C. got her daughter ready for bed and then the two went into their bedroom where Mr. Tilman began questioning her about whether she liked his male cousin. T.C. stated that Mr. Tilman was drunk and angry and began hitting her. T.C.’s daughter then entered the room; T.C. stated that she took her daughter, upset by the ruckus, back to her room and that Mr. Tilman followed and struck her again. T.C. then went to the bathroom to assess her injuries and Mr. Tilman choked her.
Once Mr. Tilman started to calm down, he went downstairs to make some food. T.C. stated that she then called her mom and told her to call 9-1-1 because she did not want to be caught on the phone. Shortly thereafter, T.C.’s mom arrived, saw her injuries, and confronted Mr. Tilman telling him that she had called the police and to leave. As to her injuries, T.C. stated that following the incident she was transported to the hospital with complaints of her left eye swollen shut, her right front tooth loose, and jaw soreness. T.C. stated that her loose tooth required a root canal.
T.C.’s mother, D.L., testified that in early 2021, she became aware that Mr. Tilman was living in her daughter’s apartment after Mr. Tilman was consistently at the apartment when she visited and after seeing his personal belongings there. She admitted that when asked by the 9-1-1 operator whether T.C. and Mr. Tilman lived together or had any children together she responded negatively.
Around midnight on March 28, 2021, T.C. called her whispering and asked her to call 9-1-1. While on the phone with 9-1-1, D.L. began driving over to her daughter’s apartment approximately seven minutes from her home. Upon arrival, she observed T.C.’s injuries; she confronted Mr. Tilman and made him leave the home. Toledo Police Officer Cole Decant testified that he responded to a call of a female being assaulted by her live-in boyfriend. Upon arrival, Officer Decant stated that T.C., her mother, and T.C.’s daughter, who was upstairs sleeping, were inside the apartment. The suspect had fled on foot.
Officer Decant testified that he observed T.C.’s eye to be blackened and nearly swollen shut and a cut and swelling on her upper lip. T.C. recounted that earlier in the evening, the pair had been at a relative of appellant’s house and had been drinking. When they returned home they were arguing and T.C. was assaulted by Mr. Tilman. Officer Decant testified that the photos taken by his partner at the scene depicted appellant’s injuries.
When questioned about whether Mr. Tilman lived at the residence, Officer Decant responded affirmatively and stated that Mr. Tilman had property at the location. During cross-examination, appellant’s counsel played a portion of Officer Decant’s body cam video depicting his partner questioning T.C. and her response that Mr. Tilman did not live with her. Officer Decant admitted that he did not go upstairs at the residence and did not see any mail addressed to Mr. Tilman on the first floor. Officer Decant stated that his partner went upstairs where the bedrooms were located and photographed what appeared to be men’s clothing in bags. Officer Decant further stated that a background check revealed that Mr. Tilman had a prior domestic violence conviction.
The state’s final witness was Toledo Police Detective Gary Michalski who investigated the incident. Detective Michalski was called to the hospital where T.C. was being treated for her injuries. The injuries and statements were consistent with those given earlier. Det. Michalski testified that he explained to T.C. the difference between assault and domestic violence charges and that domestic violence required evidence that the victim is a family or household member. The detective determined that T.C. and Mr. Tilman lived together based on information from the responding officers, T.C., and the men’s clothing and personal items at the apartment. Detective Michalski further testified as to appellant’s 2020 domestic violence conviction involving the mother of his daughter. Detective Michalski was cross-examined with his report where he had noted T.C.’s statement that Mr. Tilman did not live at her apartment but often stayed there. Michalski admitted that there were contradictions in the evidence as to whether or not Mr. Tilman lived at T.C.’s apartment.
Mr. Tilman was found guilty of Domestic Violence and sentenced him to seventeen months in prison, based in part, on his previous conviction. Mr. Tilman filed a timely appeal to the Sixth District Appellate Court. He challenged that he was not a Family or Household Member of T.C.
Application of the Family or Household Member Legal Standard
At issue in this case is whether T.C. was a household member; in other words, whether the two lived at the same residence or cohabitated. Evidence of cohabitation in the context of domestic violence “arises out of the nature of the relationship itself, rather than the exact living circumstances of the victim and perpetrator.” State v. Williams, 79 Ohio St.3d 459 (1997). The Williams court held that the elements for cohabitation include:
- Sharing of familial or financial responsibilities and
Id. at 465.
Such factors may be demonstrated by evidence of “provisions for shelter, food, clothing, utilities, and/or comingled assets” (familial or financial responsibilities) and “mutual respect, fidelity, affection, society, cooperation, solace, comfort, aid for each other, friendship, and conjugal relations” (consortium.) Id.
Clarifying Williams, the Supreme Court of Ohio later held that in order to establish that a victim is a family or household member under the domestic violence statute the element of cohabitation need not be proven where evidence is presented that the parties lived together on the date of the offense. State v. McGlothan, 2014-Ohio-85. The court explained that its holding in Williams reflected its observations that the crime of domestic violence does not require that the parties live together and may be established under the non-exhaustive factors it had enumerated.
Competent, evidence was presented that the pair lived together and the jury’s assessment that such evidence was credible did not create a manifest miscarriage of justice.
Information for this article was obtained from State v. Tilman, 2022 – Ohio – 3928.
This case was issued by the Sixth District Appellate Court and is only binding in the following Ohio Counties: Erie, Fulton, Huron, Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky, Williams and Wood.
- Domestic relationships can often be challenging to identify as contrasted against the Ohio Revised Code Domestic relationship definition. At times even the most skilled genealogist can be challenged. In this the case, Mr. Tilman’s relationship with T.C. comported to the legal standard in O.R.C. §2919.25 (F) – Family or Household Member. Herein, the following factors were critical in the analysis and conclusion: Tilman received mail at the apartment from the Lucas County Children Services, sometimes shared in the bills, had clothing in the residence, shared a bed with T.C. and had an intimate relationship with T.C. Based on the totality of the circumstances Mr. Tilman was a Family or Household Member.
- The question of whether Mr. Tilman assaulted T.C. that rose to the level of assault was not challenged. Additionally, Mr. Tilman had a previous conviction for Domestic Violence on a different woman, which underscored his sentencing.
- Both Toledo Police Officer Cole Decant and Detective Gary Michalski should be commended for their legal prowess and follow through with this investigation. Well done!
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