by Aaron Gibson, March 22, 2016
A two-day jury trial in the case of a Ripley man accused of punching and strangling his girlfriend and ripping the hair from a second woman’s head ended with a guilty verdict and 15-year prison sentence on Monday, March 14.
Caleb Rice was found guilty by a jury on one count of second-degree felony assault and one count of third-degree felony domestic violence following a two-day trial in Brown County Common Pleas Court.
Judge Scott Gusweiler handed a prison sentence of 15 years and 2 months total against Rice, who has several violent felony convictions.
Under Ohio’s Repeat Violent Offender laws, Gusweiler was required to impose a 12 year prison sentence for the assault conviction, due to it being a felony of the second degree.
Rice was then given a consecutive one-year prison sentence on the domestic violence conviction. Additionally, Rice was ordered to serve the remaining 777 days left on his parole for a domestic violence conviction in a separate case from 2013.
Rice will be subject to three years of post release control upon his release from prison.
The case began after Rice was indicted Nov. 19, 2015 on two counts each of second-degree felony assault and third-degree felony domestic violence.
According to the indictment, Rice was accused of causing physical harm to Ashleigh Thomas, his girlfriend, and Delynn Finley, a family friend who had allowed Rice to stay in her home.
On Nov. 8, 2015, the Brown County Communications Center received a 911 call regarding Thomas barefoot and screaming for help along Front Street in Ripley.
Rice allegedly punched Thomas repeatedly in the face, along her back and sides, and strangled her in their apartment before Thomas escaped.
Police photographed injuries to Thomas’ nose, bruising along her throat and back, and also a knot on the top of her head.
Continuing their investigation, police then learned Rice had allegedly pushed Finley’s face into drywall and ripped several handfuls of her hair approximately two or three days prior.
Although Thomas was not present at trial, testimony made by Finley, who said she witnessed the assault on Thomas, along with the 911 call made by the neighbor who witnessed Thomas in the street screaming for help, was enough to secure a conviction against Rice for domestic violence.
Rice is planning to appeal his conviction.
Brown County Crime Reporter, March 22, 2016 7:54 PM EST
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