Thus, there was evidence presented that Mr. Ullman’s actions were not just disordered movements by a person having a seizure. The facts and circumstances presented to the trial court support that Mr. Ullman intended to harm D.R.
State v. Ullman
2022 – Ohio – 4683
Ninth District Appellate Court
Wayne County, Ohio
December 27, 2022
On January 20, 2021, Mr. Set. Ullman assaulted D.R., his longtime girlfriend whom he had been living with for a few years. The two also have a child together. Following the incident, a complaint was filed alleging Mr. Ullman committed domestic violence in violation of R.C. 2919.25(A). The matter proceeded to a bench trial at which D.R. was called as a court’s witness. The trial court found Mr. Ullman guilty, and he was thereafter sentenced.
Domestic Violence O.R.C. § 2919.25(A) states that “[N]o person shall knowingly cause or attempt to cause physical harm to a family or household member.”
O.R.C. 2901.22(B) Mens Rea – Knowingly:
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. A person has knowledge of circumstances when the person is aware that such circumstances probably exist. When knowledge of the existence of a particular fact is an element of an offense, such knowledge is established if a person subjectively believes that there is a high probability of its existence and fails to make inquiry or acts with a conscious purpose to avoid learning the fact.
Around 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday January 20, 2021, Sergeant Mike Mascolo and Officer Scott Ries of the Rittman Police Department were dispatched to D.R. and Mr. Ullman’s residence. Police found D.R. standing in front of a neighbor’s house holding a baby. D.R. was standing in the snow without shoes on. D.R. told police that Mr. Ullman had tried to gouge her eye out. She asked police to check the house. D.R. also informed police that her car was missing, and Mr. Ullman had hidden it. D.R. complained a little about her lip and soreness in her eye area. Police observed that her left eye was red. Photos of D.R. were admitted into evidence. D.R. informed police that she wanted Mr. Ullman to get medical help for his seizure issues.
As to the incident itself, D.R. told police that Mr. Ullman had a seizure earlier and that they had been arguing since 9:00 a.m. D.R. stated that, when Mr. Ullman had the seizure, she prevented him from falling into an organ in the living room. D.R. indicated that Mr. Ullman became violent when he came out of seizures. The arguing escalated and Mr. Ullman tried to trip D.R. as she was putting her shoes on in order to leave.
Sergeant Mascolo testified to the following chain of events:
[D.R.] said she was sitting in the kitchen, holding the baby and he tried to choke, he was choking her. She indicated that when she was holding the baby that he pushed her while she was holding the baby and the baby’s head bumped into the mirror. She did indicate that the baby was not injured in that capacity. She indicated that when she had actually taken a shower and she went to get dressed she put a crib in front of the bedroom door to prevent him from coming into the bedroom. She contacted her sister because she was going to leave the residence and get out of there. He didn’t want her leaving with the child. The[n], it escalated to the point when she turned around and said I’m calling the police. At that point, that’s when he started grabbing her face, gouged her eyes and attempted to gouge her eye out as she claimed. The fight was on and she ended up biting his finger causing his finger to bleed all over the kitchen and all over the house and the walls, etcetera.
Officer Ries located Mr. Ullman in the shower. When Mr. Ullman was asked about the blood, Mr. Ullman stated that D.R. had bit him during an argument. Officer Ries asked Mr. Ullman about the location of D.R.’s car. Mr. Ullman initially told Officer Ries that Mr. Ullman had no idea where the car was but then finally stated that it would be within walking distance and could be located on the next street over. When pressed further about the vehicle, Mr. Ullman started shaking and fell to the ground. It appeared he was having a seizure. Mr. Ullman appeared normal afterwards.
Officer Ries then asked Mr. Ullman where his clothes were. Mr. Ullman indicated they were in the basement. Mr. Ullman went into the basement, but after waiting a while, Officer Ries went downstairs to see what was taking so long. Mr. Ullman was still walking around naked. Officer Ries told Mr. Ullman he needed to put on some clothes. Eventually some were located. Mr. Ullman put on a pair of sweatpants, which unbeknownst to Officer Ries, had a knife in the pocket. Mr. Ullman then pulled out the knife and stabbed himself in the arm. At that point, police called EMS to transport Mr. Ullman to the hospital.
Additionally, portions of Sergeant Mascolo’s body camera video were played for the trial court; however, the video was not admitted into evidence and is not part of the record on appeal.
D.R. testified that Mr. Ullman is the love of her life and that, at the time of trial, she had lived with him for the last three years. The two also have a child together. D.R. admitted to calling the police on January 20, 2021. However, she claimed that she called the police hoping that the police would take Mr. Ullman to the hospital to get him help for all the problems associated with his seizures. D.R. averred that she called the police during a seizure. D.R. indicated that Mr. Ullman blacks out during his seizures and it sometimes takes him a week to remember what happened. D.R. did not believe that Mr. Ullman was knowingly trying to injure her. She asserted that Mr. Ullman was not to blame, his seizures were. Nonetheless, D.R. also agreed that she told police that Mr. Ullman was attempting to block her from leaving the house and attempted to gouge her eye out. She did not remember telling police that she had redness on her face and claimed that the photo taken by the police just showed her rosacea [redness on her face]. D.R. testified that she did not remember telling officers that Mr. Ullman had choked her or tried to trip her.
Mr. Ullman testified in his defense. Mr. Ullman claimed that he did not really remember anything about the day until the police arrived. Mr. Ullman did not remember D.R. biting his finger and asserted that he did not at first realize it was his finger that was bleeding. Mr. Ullman maintained that he had more than one seizure that day. Mr. Ullman remembered arguing with police about getting arrested. Mr. Ullman told the police that they were not going to arrest him and stabbed himself so that he would not be taken to jail.
Viewing the evidence presented in a light most favorable to the prosecution, we conclude that sufficient evidence was presented to establish that Mr. Ullman acted knowingly. There was evidence that D.R. and Mr. Ullman were arguing. There was also evidence that Mr. Ullman attempted to gouge D.R.’s eye out after she informed him that she was calling the police. Thus, there was evidence presented that Mr. Ullman’s actions were not just disordered movements by a person having a seizure. The facts and circumstances presented to the trial court support that Mr. Ullman intended to harm D.R.
Mr. Ullman has not demonstrated his conviction is based upon insufficient evidence. Mr. Ullman’s first assignment of error is overruled.
NOTE: Mr. Mr. Ullman had three other appeals that were all denied. The other appeals were not reviewed in this article.
Information for this article was obtained from State v. Ullman, 2022 – Ohio – 4683.
This case was issued by the Ninth District Appellate Court and is only binding in the following Ohio Counties: Lorain, Medina, Summit and Wayne.
- This was a tough case for law enforcement, prosecution, defense counsel and the judge because Mr. Ullman had seizures during and after the assault of his girlfriend. The challenge is whether Mr. Ullman ‘knowingly’ assaulted D.R. because of the impairment of his seizure. Both the trial court and the Ninth District Appellate Court determined that he did knowingly assault D.R. by attempting to gauge out her eye, which was supported by the officer’s testimony and the redness on her face.
- During many different encounters with people inside their own homes, law enforcement will often permit people to change or put on clothes. In this case, the court explained “Eventually some were located. Mr. Ullman put on a pair of sweatpants, which unbeknownst to Officer Ries, had a knife in the pocket. Mr. Ullman then pulled out the knife and stabbed himself in the arm. At that point, police called EMS to transport Mr. Ullman to the hospital.”. Prior to permitting a person to placed clothes on their body, law enforcement should assure that the clothes do not have any weapons secreted inside. Ullman only harmed himself in a feeble attempt to avoid arrest, however, he most certainly could have attempted to harm the officers.
- This domestic violence case is demonstrative of so many cases where the victim calls law enforcement amid a pending violent encounter or shortly after a violent encounter because the victim is in fear of her safety – only to later, attempt to avoid prosecution because the victim changes how she feels about the suspect. Herein, the court provides the following description “R. testified that Mr. Ullman is the love of her life and that, at the time of trial, she had lived with him for the last three years. The two also have a child together. D.R. admitted to calling the police on January 20, 2021. However, she claimed that she called the police hoping that the police would take Mr. Ullman to the hospital to get him help for all the problems associated with his seizures … D.R. did not believe that Mr. Ullman was knowingly trying to injure her.”. Consequently, it is very important for law enforcement to properly document statements made by victims, witnesses and suspects both in writing and if possible, on body cameras.
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