(TB file photo)
(TB file photo)
BY ED GEBERT

Times Bulletin Editor

egebert@timesbulletin.com

The prison sentence of a Van Wert woman was upheld on a 3-0 vote by the Ohio Third District Court of Appeals.

Kelly McKenzie has appealed her 54-month sentence, claiming that Van Wert County Common Pleas Court Judge Charles D. Steele had erred in giving her consecutive sentences instead of concurrent sentences. Specifically, the appeal claims that findings of fact to justify consecutive sentences were not given and that consecutive sentences are not a proper sentence according to sentencing guidelines. The appellate did not accept those arguments.
In the slip opinion, Judge Vernon L. Preston quoted not only case precedent, but also the transcript of McKenzie's hearings before Common Pleas Court. He wrote that the court does not have to "recite any 'magic' or 'talismanic' words when imposing consecutive sentences, as long as it is 'clear from the record that the trial court engaged in the appropriate analysis.' and that requirement was satisfied.

As for the claim that consecutive sentences were not appropriate, Preston recounted McKenzie's criminal record noting, "McKenzie has committed numerous prior offenses, including one count of aggravated trafficking, one count of forgery, two counts of trafficking in marijuana, two counts of trafficking in crack cocaine, one count of possession of heroin, one count of possession of vicodin, and one count of theft."

The opinion went on to point out that McKenzie had previously been sentenced to treatment, counseling, and probation, but she repeatedly failed drug test and continued to commit crimes while on probation.

"McKenzie thus has demonstrated a pattern of drug abuse that is related to the present offenses, has refused to comply with treatment, committed the offenses while on probation, and has not been amenable to lesser sanctions. After reviewing the record, we cannot find that McKenzie's sentence is contrary to the law as she contends."

McKenzie was arraigned on Feb. 7, 2012 on one fourth-degree felony count of trafficking in heroin, one third-degree felony count of aggravated trafficking in drugs, one fourth-degree felony count of trafficking in counterfeit controlled substances, and one third-degree felony count of heroin possession. She originally pleaded not guilty to all charges, but took a plea deal with the prosecution on March 14 which dismissed the heroin charge and dropped the aggravated trafficking charge from a third-degree to a fourth-degree felony. She was sentenced on April 25 to 18 months in prison on each count, with the sentences to be served consecutively.