GALLIPOLIS — A Gallia County man was re-sentenced to 48 months in prison for a sex conviction an appellate court had remanded to a lower court because of alleged “errors” during the original trial.
The sentencing hearing was Friday morning in the Gallia County Courthouse in regards to a 2011 case involving the alleged gross sexual imposition of a minor.
According to court records, Anthony Owens, 35, was first indicted by the Gallia County Grand Jury for the alleged rape and gross sexual imposition of his daughter in May 2011. He pleaded not guilty to the crimes and to current knowledge, denies any such actions ever took place. A jury trial found him not guilty of rape charges but asserted he was guilty of gross sexual imposition.
According to the Ohio Court of Appeals Fourth Appellate District court records, the Gallia County Court of Common Pleas determined a prison sentence was mandatory because of evidence that corroborated the victim’s testimony. The Gallia County court imposed a mandatory prison term of 48 months. At the time of the alleged offense, the victim was younger than 13 years old.
Owens’ case was appealed based on the claim that his rights to due process in the court’s imposition of a mandatory prison term (with regard to Ohio Revised Code section 2907.05(C)(2)(a)) and the jury’s verdict of the case was not supported by sufficient evidence. Owens’ also argued previously that there as an unauthorized individual appearing in the court that had influenced the grand jury to indict him. That individual was a special prosecutor with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
Supposedly, assistant attorneys general were present to avoid a potential conflict of interest with the Gallia County Prosecutor’s Office trying the case and had not been approved through specific legal procedure. The appellate court argued that Owens had not objected to the special prosecutor’s appearance in time and the court had not found any gross error with the trial, indictment or that a jury had been influenced in an unjust manner.
The appellate court however “sustained” Owens’ fifth “assignment of error” with the Gallia County Court of Common Pleas procedures. The appellate court remanded the case back to the Gallia County court in order to hold a new sentencing hearing in regards to whether Owens should have a mandatory prison sentence of 48 months based on a previous court affair called “State v. Bevly.” The appellate court said the trial court had erred in applying an “unconstitutional provision to impose a mandatory prison term on (Owens)” with regards to court findings in the Bevly case.
The appellate court reaffirmed the Gallia County trial court’s gross sexual imposition conviction in regard to Owens. The appellate court felt the sentencing portion of the legal proceedings needed revisited, however.
The state argued that Owens had no “genuine remorse” by denying to committing the act alleged against him. The state also argued that the court should impose the original 48-month prison sentence in regard to the fact the crime had involved a relative of Owen’s. The state felt it was highly likely Owens would reoffend.
Owens’ counsel argued that the court had to take into consideration the possibility of community control, otherwise known to some as probation, due to the remand of the appellate court. Counsel argued that Owens had not reoffended over the last few years since the original trial in question and would not reoffend. Counsel further argued that Owens had substantial community support to give weight to the fact that community control should be considered as a sentencing option.
Nearly three-quarters of the courtroom stood in support of Owens after being asked by Owens’ counsel do so. Owens’ counsel also argued that this was not a “particularly” aggravated case of gross sexual imposition according to testimony. It was argued that once testimony was given, the state changed its approach in how it argued its case against Owens due to not fitting previous accusatory theories.
The court sentenced Owens to 48 months in prison after hearing both the state and defense. It claimed that Owens had not overcome a “presumption” of prison being apart of potential sentencing. The court also gave Owens credit for previous prison time served. He was ordered to have no direct or indirect contact with the victim or victim’s family. After prison, the court said there will be a mandatory five-year post release control period. If violated Owens could be returned to prison.
The court said that Owens’ had the right to appeal the new sentencing as well.
Owens’ counsel said there was a stay to temporarily delay the judgement of a court order in light of appellate court documents. The stay is to allow Owens to file paperwork with the Supreme Court of Ohio, if he wishes.
The state then asked for a recognizance bond which the court agreed with. If Owens does not show to future justice proceedings, he could be charged with a felony crime. Individuals in the court mentioned that Owens may have worn a leg monitor in the past.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.