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Ohio Supreme Court: Threats Before Charges Are Not “Witness Intimidation”

Self made photo, taken August 05.

Self made photo, taken August 05. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


A man who demanded his ex-wife lie to police under threat of death cannot be convicted of witness intimidation, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled this week.

In its 6-1 decision, the high court held that Tracy Davis’ ex-wife was not yet a witness when he threatened her because no charges had been filed. Dissenting Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton wrote in a brief separate opinion.

Mr. Davis drove his ex-wife’s minivan “within feet” of a walking deputy sheriff, who shot at Mr. Davis while dodging the van. Mr. Davis left the scene and drove to his ex-wife’s house, where he removed bloodstained clothes and taped over bullet holes in the van. While he was in the house, Mr. Davis told his ex-wife that she had to lie about the event “or he would kill her and blow up her apartment,” according to the summary.

At trial, Mr. Davis was convicted of tampering with evidence and witness intimidation. He appealed to the Second District Court of Appeals, contending that the witness intimidation conviction was not supported by sufficient evidence. The appellate court agreed and vacated the conviction.

On review, the high court held that the police investigation that was underway at the time of Davis’ threat did not constitute a criminal action or proceeding.

Based on the statute’s witness-protection language, the justices affirmed the appellate court’s decision.

The case is State v. Davis, case No. 2012-Ohio-1654.

Via The Daily Reporter.



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