Supreme Court rules in local case

By Frank Lewis -

The Ohio Supreme Court has reversed an appeals court decision in the case of two Portsmouth men who were originally charged with ethnic intimidation. The case involved Melvin and Buddy Mutter, who were charged in Portsmouth Municipal Court with menacing by stalking, a misdemeanor, and on the same incident, charged in Scioto County Common Pleas Court with ethnic intimidation, a felony.

Scioto County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn said the Scioto County grand jury indicted the two on ethnic intimidation charges, and those cases were either refiled or reduced at Municipal Court, back in 2014 to menacing by stalking.

According to Kuhn, on Oct. 17, 2014, the two were arrested by the Portsmouth Police Department for reportedly yelling racial epithets at an African-American neighbor. He said either the alleged victim or witnesses reported the incident, leading to the arrest.

Kuhn said Wednesday the Common Pleas Court dismissed the ethnic intimidation charge based on double jeopardy. The Fourth District Court of Appeals reversed that decision, stating it was not a case of double jeopardy.

On Wednesday morning, the Ohio Supreme Court reversed the appeals court decision, agreeing with Common Pleas Court that it was, in fact, double jeopardy.

“The question was, is the plea to the misdemeanor charges at Municipal Court binding on the ethnic intimidation cases that were refiled when they were indicted by the grand jury,” Kuhn said. “We had a hearing on that. Judge (Howard H.) Harcha (III), said they were, found that it was double jeopardy, dismissed the charges. The Prosecutor’s Office appealed. The Fourth District Court of Appeals reversed the judge, said that it was not double jeopardy, and the defense appealed that to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court accepted it, then ruled today (Wednesday) that it was double jeopardy, reversed the Fourth District and sent it back to the trial court. The charges were already dismissed.”

Kuhn said the two were convicted of the misdemeanor charges in Municipal Court and sentenced to the Scioto County Jail.

By Frank Lewis

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewisPDT.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewisPDT.