GALLIPOLIS — Less than a week after being sentenced to prison, a Gallia County man will be released on bond pending an appeal of his case through the Fourth District Court of Appeals.
According to an entry filed Wednesday with the Gallia County Clerk of Courts and signed by presiding Judge Michael Ward, the court has reconsidered its decision on whether or not Anthony Owens, 33, of Gallipolis, should be released on bond pending appeal.
Owens, who was convicted in late June of gross sexual imposition following his alleged sexual contact with a girl who was less than 10 years of age at the time of the incident, was just sentenced last Thursday to four years in prison.
A $25,000 cash bond had previously been posted June 30 for Owens’ release from the Gallia County Jail following the jury trial in this case — a bond that was only set following the rendering of the jury’s verdict. He has remained out on bond throughout previous court proceedings in this case.
In Wednesday’s entry, Judge Ward writes that the court “does not take this decision lightly” and has considered the victim in this lengthy case.
“The court respects the victim and all that she has been through,” the entry reads. “The court recognizes the need for closure for the victim and her family. Through no fault of the victim, the case has been pending more than three years. During that time she has been steadfast in her determination to pursue the prosecution of the defendant.”
Reportedly, the court initially stated at sentencing last week that it “would think about” a previously filed motion by the defense for bond pending appeal and, in Wednesday’s entry granting motion to set bond, the court re-established the bond which was in effect on the day of the sentencing hearing. The court further ordered that Owens wear an electronic monitor while out on bond.
In the defense’s motion filed on Aug. 6, one day prior to sentencing, defense attorney Charles Knight outlines the reasons why Owens should be released pending his appeal — a process than could take several months if not years.
“[The] defendant states that he has been a lifelong resident of Gallia County, Ohio, and that his extended family are also residents of Gallia County, Ohio, that he has been a valued member of the community, having been active in community affairs and school affairs within this county,” the entry filed by the defense reads. “Further, the defendant, other than this charge, has never been a violator of any law and has appeared for all hearings in this case without fail.”
In addition, the defense’s motion refers to the transcript of the only witness presented by the state concerning the charge of which the defendant was convicted, together with a transcript of the DVD presented by this same witness. According to the defense, no other evidence of the gross sexual imposition offense was presented at trial.
“The DVD transcript and the court transcript was the only evidence and/or testimony presented at trial and clearly shows no criminal conduct by the defendant,” the motion states. “The likelihood of reversal of this conviction on appeal is great and release on bond pending appeal will eliminate the travesty of incarceration for a conviction highly likely to be reversed. The release on bond does not detract in any way from the sentence imposed should defendant fail to prevail on appeal.”
The motion filed by the court agrees with the defense’s motion in some ways, repeating the nonexistence of any criminal record and Owens’ appearance at all of his court hearings.
“During [court proceedings] defendant has not been incarcerated,” the court’s entry reads. “Defendant has not violated his bond by contacting the victim and her family. Defendant has not been previously convicted of a felony or misdemeanor other than a traffic offense. He has never failed to appear in court.”
The court further states that its decision in regard to bond will prevent the defendant from being incarcerated throughout the lengthy appeals process should his appeal prevail.
“The court of appeals may or may not agree with the court’s analysis. The court of appeals must decide if the court committed any errors which would cause it to reverse defendant’s conviction. The appellate process often takes between one and two years before the court renders a decision,” the entry reads. “If the court of appeals reverses the conviction and remands the case to the common pleas court for a new trial, defendant will have been incarcerated between one and two years. If that is the case, the defendant will have been in prison without being convicted.”
If the decision of the trial court is upheld and the appeal denied, the defendant will begin serving his prison sentence of four years immediately upon the rendering of this decision.