Note: This story appears in the Thursday, Sept. 12 newspaper on Page A3.
A Buchtel-area man’s conviction related to misusing 911 and threatening its employees has been upheld by an appeal’s court.
Chad Kister had been convicted by a jury in Athens County Municipal Court in April 2018 of aggravated menacing, misuse of 911 and obstructing official business, all misdemeanors.
The charges were filed by the Athens County Sheriff’s Office and stem from a November 2017 incident in which Kister reportedly made excessive calls to 911 and threatened a pair of dispatchers. Sheriff’s deputies then went to his home. Kister reportedly denied them entry and made it difficult for deputies to get him into a cruiser to be taken for a mental health evaluation.
Kister was fined $100 and sentenced to two years’ probation.
He was subsequently charged again with misuse of 911 and assault of a law enforcement officer stemming from a May incident with the sheriff’s office.
The appeals court ruling involves just the first case. Kister appealed the 2018 conviction, making numerous claims that the Municipal Court erred in convicting him and in denying various legal rights.
At the appeal hearing, Kister testified the incident began with a guest at his hostel physically assaulting and injuring him. Kister said Nelsonville police removed the guest, but the man later returned, leading Kister to contact 911. He told the court the calls involved a “life or death issue.”
The guest and Kister told police that each had been assaulted by the other, with Captain Brian Cooper of the Athens County Sheriff’s Office testifying to the appeals court that no assault charges were filed to either due to “insufficient evidence.” Cooper said that Nelsonville police had indeed removed the guest.
An Athens County 911 dispatcher later testified that Kister made dozens of 911 calls on the date of Nov. 12, 2017, and at one point called from multiple phone lines at the same time.
Another dispatcher testified that Kister threatened during one 911 call to kill the dispatcher.
Kister admitted during the appeal hearing that he had initiated physical contact with the guest, according to the decision summary.
Kister’s first appeal claim argues the Municipal Court erred in not letting him be a “co-attorney, dual attorney” in the case.
The appeals ruling rejects that claim, noting that a defendant like Kister has the right to legal representation or to represent himself — but that these “two rights are independent of each other and may not be asserted simultaneously.”
Kister also argued there were errors in Muncipal Court related to evidence he was not allowed to admit. In one instance, he was not able to present photos of “no trespassing signs” at his property.
The appeals court ruling states a no trespassing sign is “not probative to the offenses of disrupting official business or abusing the 911 system under these facts.”
In another claim, Kister asserted he had a right to “the necessity defense,” defined as allowing a person to avoid criminal liability when taking action necessary to defend oneself. The appeals court answered simply that the “defense of necessity is not applicable in this case.”
In regards to his being convicted of the misdemeanor charges, Kister argued the convictions “are against the manifest weight of the evidence.”
In essence, the appeals court cites the testimony of law enforcement officers and dispatchers in stating there was substantial evidence upon which the jury used to convict.