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Date: 11-19-2020

Case Style:


Case Number: 2867

Judge: Jeffrey E. Froelich


Plaintiff's Attorney: AMY B. MUSTO, City of Dayton Prosecutor’s Office

Defendant's Attorney:

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Dayton, OH - Criminal defense lawyer represented defendant Kristten Packnett with appealing from her conviction, claiming that her conviction was based on insufficient evidence and was against the manifest weight of the evidence.

{¶ 2} “A sufficiency of the evidence argument disputes whether the State has
presented adequate evidence on each element of the offense to allow the case to go to
the jury or sustain the verdict as a matter of law.” State v. Wilson, 2d Dist. Montgomery
No. 22581, 2009-Ohio-525, ¶ 10, citing State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 386, 678
N.E.2d 541 (1997). The relevant inquiry is whether any rational finder of fact, after
viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the State, could have found the essential
elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Dennis, 79 Ohio
St.3d 421, 430, 683 N.E.2d 1096 (1997). A guilty verdict will not be disturbed on appeal
unless “reasonable minds could not reach the conclusion reached by the trier-of-fact.”
{¶ 3} In contrast, when reviewing an argument challenging the weight of the
evidence, an appellate court may not substitute its view for that of the trier of fact, but
reviews the entire record, weighs the evidence and all reasonable inferences, considers
the credibility of witnesses, and determines whether, in resolving conflicts in the evidence,
the finder of fact clearly lost its way and created such a manifest miscarriage of justice
that the conviction must be reversed and a new trial ordered. Thompkins at 387, quoting
State v. Martin, 20 Ohio App.3d 172, 175, 485 N.E.2d 717 (1st Dist.1983).
{¶ 4} Because the trier of fact sees and hears the witnesses at trial, we must defer
to the factfinder's decisions whether, and to what extent, to credit the testimony of
particular witnesses. State v. Lawson, 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 16288, 1997 WL
476684, *4 (Aug. 22, 1997). The fact that the evidence is subject to different
interpretations does not render the conviction against the manifest weight of the evidence.
Wilson at ¶ 14. A judgment of conviction should be reversed as being against the
manifest weight of the evidence only in exceptional circumstances. Martin at 175.
{¶ 5} The State’s evidence at trial consisted of the testimony of the complainant,
Whitney Curtis, and her friend, Bettina Waters, as well as photographs of Curtis’s injuries.
Packnett testified on her own behalf and called two additional witnesses: Dayton Police
Officer Tony Murphy and her sister, Chequata Allen.
{¶ 6} The State’s evidence established the following facts.
{¶ 7} Packnett and Keith Walker have children together. In May 2019, Walker
was in a relationship with Curtis; they had started dating two or three months earlier.1
{¶ 8} Around 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. on May 11 (the day before Mother’s Day), Curtis
went out with a friend, Waters. Shortly after 2:00 a.m., the two women relocated to The
Blue Note, a club on Lakeview Avenue in Dayton.2 Walker and his brother (who was

1 At trial on August 5, 2019, Curtis testified that she had been dating Walker for five or six
2 The evidence at trial indicated that the club has changed ownership several times and
has gone by different names, including The Blue Note, The Jazz Club, Chuck’s Jazz Club,
Rick’s Jazz Club, and Ken’s Jazz Club. Waters knew the club as The Blue Note, and
Officer Murphy stated that the club was called The Blue Note when this incident occurred.
also Allen’s fiancé) also went to the club in a separate vehicle, arriving before Waters and
Curtis. When Curtis and Waters arrived, the club was not crowded. Packnett was not
{¶ 9} Sometime while Curtis and Waters sat together at the bar, Curtis saw
Packnett walk in. Curtis testified that she and Waters were ready to go home, so they
headed toward the door. Waters saw a friend and stopped to talk for several minutes.
Afterward, Curtis gave Walker a hug good-bye and told him that she was going home.
Walker told Curtis that he would see her in about 30 minutes and headed toward the
{¶ 10} Curtis testified that, as she passed Packnett, Packnett punched her on the
left side of her face and grabbed her hair. Curtis fell back and Packnett punched her a
couple more times. Curtis fell down and slid under the table. Curtis testified that she
felt feet kicking her, and then a bouncer picked her up and told them that they needed to
go outside. Curtis stated that security pushed Packnett’s group out of the club first, and
then Curtis left.
{¶ 11} Curtis testified that, upon exiting the club, she saw Packnett. Packnett had
removed her wig, her t-shirt (leaving a tank top), and her earrings. Curtis stated that she
did not immediately recognize Packnett and tried to walk directly to her car.
{¶ 12} Curtis testified that Packnett attacked her again as she (Curtis) headed
toward her car. Curtis stated: “[Packnett] grabbed me by my hair * * * continuously to hit
me on the left side of my face. Uh, my face was smashed in the gravel walk, so I had a
lot of gravel burns on my elbows, my kneecaps. Um, she continued to call me the ‘B’
word, and just continued to keep hitting me in my face.” (Trial Tr. at 9.) Curtis stated
that she was unable to defend herself, because it was wet outside and her feet kept
slipping on the wet gravel and because Packnett kept punching her in the head and
swinging her by her hair. (Id. at 10.) Curtis testified that a man, whom she believed
was the bouncer, eventually came and stopped the assault.
{¶ 13} Curtis testified that she suffered several injuries from the assault. She had
“road rash” on the left side of her forehead and two black eyes, the inside of her mouth
was “busted up,” her kneecaps and elbows were “scraped up pretty bad,” the tendons in
her knee were overextended, she lost some hair, she had bruises to her shoulder area,
and she had a concussion, which caused her to miss a week of work.
{¶ 14} Curtis stated that she left the scene in her car and contacted the police
immediately after she got home. She later went to the hospital.
{¶ 15} Waters also testified at trial. She also testified that after going to a bar
called the Elks, she and Curtis went to The Blue Note and sat at the bar together. Waters
stated that Curtis was standing by her side while she (Waters) talked with her friend just
prior to leaving (around 4:00 a.m.). When Curtis walked by Packnett to leave, Packnett
“jump[ed] out of her chair, grab[bed] [Curtis] by the hair and start[ed] hitting her in the
face.” (Trial Tr. at 28.) Waters stated that security came and threw Packnett out, and
then came and threw Curtis and her out.
{¶ 16} Waters testified that Packnett was standing near the doors, at the bottom of
the steps, when she and Curtis got outside. Waters stated, similarly to Curtis, that
Packnett had removed her wig and t-shirt. Waters described that when Curtis came
down the stairs, Packnett grabbed Curtis by the hair and was constantly hitting her [Curtis]
in the head. Taking her head and shoving it to the ground.” Waters saw Curtis slip on
the gravel. Waters stated that she was about to try to break up the fight when someone
told her, “No, it’s a one-on-one fight.” Soon thereafter, club security came and broke up
the altercation.
{¶ 17} Waters testified that, after the altercation ended, she continued to standing
there, and Packnett turned around and punched her (Waters) on her lip. Waters asked
Packnett why she had done that, and Packnett responded, “Bitch, you was with her.”
(Trial Tr. at 31.)
{¶ 18} Waters testified that she went back to Curtis’s house after the altercation
and took photographs of Curtis’s injuries. Waters testified that she had seen Curtis over
the following days and more bruises had become apparent.
{¶ 19} On cross-examination, Waters indicated that she did not know Packnett
prior the incident. She also indicated that she saw Packnett and Curtis grabbing each
other’s hair and clothing during the altercation inside. Upon being questioned about
whether Curtis wanted to go outside and continue the fight, Waters testified that Curtis
tried to push past people so she could leave. Waters stated that her view was partially
obstructed during both altercations – inside and outside the club.
{¶ 20} Officer Tony Murphy testified as a defense witness. He stated that, at
approximately 4:50 a.m. on May 12, 2019, he was dispatched regarding an assault that
occurred at a club, then called The Blue Note. Curtis informed the officer that she had
been jumped, then assaulted, by Packnett. Officer Murphy testified that he saw some
injuries to Curtis, but he had no direct knowledge of the altercation; his information came
from Curtis and Waters. The officer was unaware of any further investigation by the
Dayton police. Officer Murphy did not try to contact Packnett about the incident or to
interview possible witnesses at the club. In early June, Officer Murphy asked the club
about video footage, but none was available.
{¶ 21} On cross-examination, Officer Murphy stated that he observed bruising on
Curtis and a “huge knot * * * right about two and half inches diameter on her forehead.”
Murphy stated that the injury looked “fresh” and was consistent with her report.
{¶ 22} Allen, Packnett’s sister, testified that she went to the club on May 12 to
celebrate her fiancé’s birthday. Packnett rode to the club with Allen. Allen’s fiancé and
his brother, Walker, rode together in a separate vehicle. Allen testified that they all
entered the club together. Allen did not know if Curtis, whom Allen did not know, had
arrived before them.
{¶ 23} Allen testified that she later noticed that Curtis was “in front of Keith [Walker]
* * *, making hand gestures and like going crazy.” (Trial Tr. at 52-53.) Allen asked her
fiancé who the woman was, and he responded that she was Walker’s girlfriend. Allen
asked her fiancé if everything would be okay. Allen then ordered food and went to pick
it up. Allen stated that when she returned to the table, only she, Packnett, and her fiancé
were there and “everything was cool.”
{¶ 24} Allen testified that Curtis then “came by us and actually mugged [Packnett]
and called her a B-I-T-C-H.” (Id. at 53.) Allen explained that “Curtis shoved Kristten.
Kristen [sic] shoved her back. They immediately grabbed each other’s hair. The, that’s
when the security kind of broke ‘em up. They pushed Kristten out the door. Ms. Curtis
was still inside . . . um, like, going off. She actually got into it with the security guard.”
(Id. at 53-54.) Allen testified that she did not see any punches being thrown or Curtis fall
to the ground. After security had Packnett leave, Allen (who was still inside) saw Curtis
pushing and yelling, “Let me out!”
{¶ 25} Allen stated that, once Curtis was outside, she ran directly at Packnett and
restarted the altercation. According to Allen, the women grabbed at each other, tussled,
and fell to the ground. Allen asked her fiancé to help break up the fight. Allen tapped
Packnett and told her, “Let’s go.” Allen’s fiancé grabbed Curtis to make sure “everything
[would be] fine” when Curtis got up. Allen stated that Curtis continued to come at
Packnett as they walked toward Allen’s car, until Walker pushed Curtis and told her to
“get away” and “go to the car.”
{¶ 26} Allen did not see Packnett have any altercation with Waters. Allen also
stated that she did not see Packnett remove her clothing, wig, or earrings at any point.
Allen stated that she did not see Packnett act aggressively, other than defending herself.
On cross-examination, Allen acknowledged that she did not see any injuries to Packnett.
{¶ 27} Finally, Packnett testified that she went to a club on May 12, 2019. At that
time, she did not know Curtis, had never interacted with Curtis, and held no ill will toward
Curtis. Packnett stated that she was unaware that Curtis was at the club, too. When
asked what happened, Packnett testified:
Ms. Curtis attacked me while I was having a good time. Um, next thing,
you know, she came and assaulted me. You know, shoved me, and said,
“B.” And I just defended myself. I was in shock. I never been through
that before. * * * After she pushed me, I got up and I pushed her back. So,
when I got up, then that’s when we did a little hair puling, pulling on each
other. And then security came and um, broke us up – separated us.
(Trial Tr. at 63.) When asked why she pushed back, Packnett stated: “Because she
attacked me first. And I was just defending myself, you know, like I didn’t know what else
she was going to do. I just had to make sure that she stayed away so that she wouldn’t
attack me again, which she did.” (Id.)
{¶ 28} Packnett testified that she was alone outside for a couple minutes after
security told her to leave. She explained that she did not leave because her sister, who
was her ride, was still inside. Packnett was waiting for her sister to come out.
{¶ 29} Packnett stated that her sister came out, and Curtis “darted out” right after
her and “just attacked me,” causing Packnett to defend herself again. Packnett stated
that she “was wind-milling and * * * then we grabbed each other. And then we both fell
on the ground. * * * We were both like um holding each other. And then that’s when my
sister came and grabbed me and broke us up.” (Trial Tr. at 64.) Packnett stated that
she “deflected” Curtis’s actions, and that they both were “going to have scrapes and stuff”
because they were on the ground, which was gravel. Packnett did not believe that she
used any more physical force than was necessary to stop Curtis from attacking her.
{¶ 30} Packnett stated that she did not have any injuries from the altercations with
Curtis. She did not call the police because she was not hurt.
{¶ 31} At the conclusion of the trial, the trial court found Packnett guilty of assault,
in violation of R.C. 2903.13(A), which provides: “No person shall knowingly cause or
attempt to cause physical harm to another or to another’s unborn.” The trial court orally
noted that Packnett’s removal of her t-shirt and wig were indicative of her intention to
fight. The court further found that Packnett had used excessive force in causing Curtis’s
{¶ 32} Upon review of the evidence, we conclude that there was sufficient
evidence to support the trial court’s guilty verdict and that Packnett’s conviction was not
against the manifest weight of the evidence. Curtis and Waters both testified that
Packnett assaulted Curtis, unprovoked, when they were heading toward the club’s doors
to leave. Curtis and Waters further testified that, upon being ejected from the club
following that initial altercation, they observed that Packnett had removed her wig, t-shirt,
and earrings, which reasonably suggested that Packnett intended to continue the fight
once Curtis exited the club. In addition, Curtis and Waters testified that Packnett
instigated the altercation outside the club. Both Curtis and Waters testified that Curtis
was injured during the altercation. Curtis described several injuries, including black
eyes, loss of hair, scrapes and bruises, pulled tendons, and a concussion. Officer
Murphy testified that he also observed injuries, which were consistent with Curtis’s and
Waters’s reports. This evidence, if believed, was sufficient to support Packnett’s
conviction for assault.
{¶ 33} Packnett and her sister testified that Curtis was the aggressor and that
Packnett was defending herself. Effective March 28, 2019, the State had the burden to
prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Packnett did not use force in self-defense. See
R.C. 2901.05(B)(1).
{¶ 34} In reaching its verdict, the trial court, as the finder of fact, was free to believe
all, part, or none of the testimony of each witness and to draw reasonable inferences from
the evidence presented. State v. Baker, 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 25828, 2014-Ohio3163, ¶ 28. It was the province of the trier of fact to weigh the evidence and determine
whether the State had proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Packnett had committed
{¶ 35} Upon review of the entire record, we cannot conclude that the trial court
“lost its way” in apparently crediting the State’s version of the events and finding that
Packnett did not act in self-defense. As stated above, Curtis and Waters testified that
Packnett had attacked Curtis, both inside and outside the club. The trial court believed
their testimony that, prior to the altercation outside the club, Packnett had removed her
wig, t-shirt, and earrings, indicating her intention to continue the fight once Curtis emerged
from the club. Curtis sustained significant injuries, which were consistent with being hit
repeatedly in the head, face, and body, as well as being forcibly pushed into the gravel.
In contrast, Packnett was not hurt. Curtis called the police after the incident; Packnett
did not. Officer Murphy testified that Curtis’s injuries were consistent with her report.
Packnett’s conviction for assault was not against the manifest weight of the evidence.
{¶ 36} Packnett’s assignment of error is overruled.

Outcome: The trial court’s judgment will be affirmed.

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