Prison Sentence Stayed

ST. MARYS — A St. Marys optometrist’s prison sentence has been stayed, pending the outcome of his appeal.

In a ruling Wednesday by judges from the Third District Court of Appeals in Lima, the 15-month prison sentence of Douglas J. Wine has been stayed. In December, Wine was sentenced to 15 months in prison on one count of gross sexual imposition, a fourth-degree felony. The sentence was imposed after jurors found Wine guilty of the crime during an October trial. Jurors found him not guilty of rape, a first-degree felony, and sexual battery. Before sentencing, Lorin Zaner, Wine’s attorney, asked for a motion to suspend the sentence pending the appeal as well as an appeal bond be  set. Auglaize County Common Pleas Judge Frederick Pepple denied the requests.

“The appellant has a Constitutional right of appeal and, without an opportunity to suspend sentence, a significant portion of the prison time will be served prior to the appeal being heard,” the judges wrote. “Appellant was granted bond prior to trial; at one point, appellant was granted permission to leave the state of Ohio; and bond was continued after conviction, pending sentence, with no allegation from the state or indication of any problem with appellant appearing at his next court proceeding or danger posed to the community. With no reasoning in the trial court’s judgment denying the motion to suspend sentence pending appeal, we are unable to give it ‘great deference’ requested by appellee.”

Wine faced a maximum of 18 months in prison on the charge. He also was classified as a tier I sexual offender. Given that status, Wine must register his address with the local sheriff’s office annually for 15 years upon his release from prison if the conviction stands.

Zaner praised the ruling.

“We are obviously pleased and we are not sure how long it will take to eventually get him out,” Zaner told The Evening Leader. “Hopefully it will be soon and we hope we will have as much success in the overall appeal.”

Zaner said a date has yet to be set for oral arguments in the matter.

In January, Auglaize County Prosecuting Attorney Ed Pierce dismissed a second criminal case against Wine. In that matter, Wine was charged with two counts each of rape, first-degree felonies, gross sexual imposition, third-degree felonies, and sexual battery, third-degree felonies. If convicted, Wine faced a maximum sentence of life in prison on the rape charges.

In their ruling, the appeals court judges also noted the dismissal of the second case.

“Although the companion case was pending when the trial court denied appellant’s motion to suspend sentence on Dec. 14, 2011, and thus could have been a reason for refusing to continue bond pending appeal in this case, the companion case was voluntarily dismissed by the state less than a month later,” the judges wrote. “As a result, the only offense before the court in this case is a single conviction of gross sexual imposition, a felony of the fourth degree, for which the trial court has sentenced appellant to 15 months in prison and imposed a $5,000 fine.”