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Date: 05-14-2017

Case Style:

STATE OF OHIO v. JOHN LEWIS

Ninth District Court of Appeals

Case Number: 28064

Judge: Thomas A. Teodosio

Court: Ninth District Court of Appeals

Plaintiff's Attorney:

SHERRI BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and HEAVEN DIMARTINO, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney

Defendant's Attorney:

DAWN M. KING

Description: Mr. Lewis and his former girlfriend, the victim in this matter, began dating in
2007 and lived together at various points in time. Mr. Lewis described their relationship in
positive terms and indicated that the two were still communicating and working on their
problems when the incident giving rise to this appeal occurred. Meanwhile, the victim testified
that she had tried repeatedly to end their relationship, but Mr. Lewis persistently called her,
showed up at her workplace, and came to her home. There is no dispute that, on the evening of
August 2, 2014, Mr. Lewis came to the victim’s house in his truck. By the end of the evening,
the victim was suffering from a dislocated knee, a fractured tibia, and facial swelling while Mr.
Lewis was suffering from a broken pinkie finger.
2


{¶3} According to Mr. Lewis, he picked up the victim on August 2nd because they had
plans to go to his house and watch a movie. He testified that, after they arrived at his home, the
victim fell from his raised back porch and he fell attempting to catch her. Mr. Lewis
acknowledged that the victim injured her leg during the fall, but claimed that she would not
allow him to call an ambulance because of the cost. It was his testimony that they planned to go
to the hospital after they relaxed in his basement, but that he was later forced to call 911 because
he could not carry the victim upstairs.
{¶4} According to the victim, she and Mr. Lewis did not have plans the evening of
August 2nd, but he came to her house after repeatedly calling her and her roommate’s cell
phones. She testified that she went outside to speak with Mr. Lewis and got into his truck
because he claimed that he needed help with something. She testified that she protested when
Mr. Lewis drove away, but that he continued to drive until he brought her to his house. When
she refused to exit his truck, he repeatedly punched her and dragged her from the vehicle. She
testified that she injured her leg falling from his porch in an attempt to escape from him.
Although she immediately experienced severe pain, Mr. Lewis took her cell phone, brought her
into his basement, and refused to call for help. There is no dispute that Mr. Lewis did not call
911 until 5:01 a.m. the following morning.
{¶5} A grand jury indicted Mr. Lewis on one count each of kidnapping, felonious
assault, abduction, menacing by stalking, and domestic violence. The matter proceeded to trial,
and a jury found Mr. Lewis guilty on all counts. The parties agreed that the offenses of
kidnapping and abduction were allied offenses of similar import, as were the offenses of
felonious assault and domestic violence. After the State elected to proceed on the counts of
3


kidnapping and felonious assault, the trial court sentenced Mr. Lewis on those two counts and his
menacing by stalking count. The court sentenced him to a total of 13 years in prison.
{¶6} Mr. Lewis now appeals from his convictions and raises three assignments of error
for our review. For ease of analysis, we rearrange several of the assignments of error.
II.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR ONE
THE TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION AND COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY DENYING THE BATSON CHALLENGE SUBMITTED BY MR. LEWIS IN VIOLATION OF THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE AND THE EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE OF THE 14TH AMENDMENT TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION AND ARTICLE 1, SECTION 2 OF THE OHIO CONSTITUTION[.]
{¶7} In his first assignment of error, Mr. Lewis argues that the trial court erred when it
allowed the State to exercise a peremptory challenge against Juror Number 10, an African
American male. We disagree.
{¶8} “The Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution prohibits
deliberate discrimination based on race by a prosecutor in his exercise of peremptory
challenges.” State v. Campbell, 9th Dist. Summit No. 24668, 2010-Ohio-2573, ¶ 33, citing
Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 89 (1986). “‘A court adjudicates a Batson claim in three
steps.’” State v. Were, 118 Ohio St.3d 448, 2008-Ohio-2762, ¶ 61, quoting State v. Murphy, 91
Ohio St.3d 516, 528 (2001).
In the first step, a defendant must make a prima facie showing that the [S]tate has exercised a peremptory challenge on the basis of race. Once the prima facie showing has been made, the State must offer a basis for striking the prospective juror that is race-neutral. Finally, the trial court must consider the parties’ positions to determine whether the defendant has demonstrated purposeful discrimination.
4


(Internal citations omitted.) State v. Jackson, 9th Dist. Summit No. 27739, 2017-Ohio-278, ¶ 6.
“This Court reviews whether a party exercised its peremptory challenges in a discriminatory
manner under the clearly erroneous standard.” State v. Payne, 9th Dist. Summit No. 26655,
2013-Ohio-5230, ¶ 19, citing Hernandez v. New York, 500 U.S. 352, 364-365 (1991).
{¶9} At the start of voir dire, the trial court asked the prospective jurors whether any of
them had ever been convicted of a felony-level offense. Juror Number 10 then responded that he
had been convicted of a felony in 2013 or 2014.1 He later elaborated that he had been convicted
in the courtroom “right next-door here.” When the prosecutor expressed concern to the juror
about his ability to be fair and impartial, Juror Number 10 stated that his case would not be an
issue for him. He indicated that he knew he “did wrong” in his case. He also agreed that he was
treated fairly by the police and prosecution in his case.
{¶10} When the trial court asked the State for its peremptory challenges, the State asked
to excuse Juror Number 10. Defense counsel then objected on the basis of Batson and asked the
State to provide a race-neutral explanation. The State indicated that it was excluding Juror
Number 10 because he had been convicted fairly recently of a serious felony in a nearby
courtroom. The prosecutor stated: “Although [Juror Number 10] said he felt he could be fair, we
felt that [], the nature of the charges and the proximity in time give us some concern about his
ability to be a fair juror.” In response, defense counsel argued that Juror Number 10 had
conceded his guilt in his prior case and had denied that it would have any influence on his ability
to remain fair and impartial. The trial court then determined that the State had provided a race
neutral explanation and overruled the Batson challenge.
1 The nature of Juror 10’s conviction is unclear from the record. Although Juror 10 indicated that he had been convicted of attempted murder, the State later indicated that he was convicted of burglary and theft.
5


{¶11} Mr. Lewis argues that the Equal Protection Clause was offended when the trial
court allowed the State to “singl[e] out Juror [Number] 10 for no reason other than he had a
felony conviction * * *.” Yet, “a peremptory challenge may be exercised for any racially-neutral
reason.” (Emphasis sic.) State v. Moss, 9th Dist. Summit No. 24511, 2009-Ohio-3866, ¶ 12.
The State specifically sought to remove Juror Number 10 because he had a recent, serious
felony-level conviction, his conviction took place in the same courthouse, and it had concerns
about his ability to remain fair and impartial. There is no indication in the record that the State
possessed a discriminatory intent when it sought to remove Juror Number 10 from the venire.
See State v. Walton-Kirkendoll, 9th Dist. Lorain No. 16CA010907, 2017-Ohio-237, ¶ 14, quoting
Hernandez, 500 U.S. at 360. Moreover, both this Court and others have recognized that
“‘[r]emoving a juror based on [his] past criminal history * * * is a valid, race-neutral reason for
raising a peremptory challenge.’” State v. Lacey, 7th Dist. Mahoning No. 10MA122, 2012
Ohio-1685, ¶ 127, quoting State v. Santiago, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 02AP-1094, 2003-Ohio
2877, ¶ 10. See also State v. Smith, 9th Dist. Lorain No. 96CA006331, 1998 WL 158966, *9
(Mar. 25, 1998) (prospective juror’s criminal record constituted race-neutral basis for
peremptory challenge). Having reviewed the record, we cannot conclude that the trial court
erred by overruling Mr. Lewis’ Batson challenge. Mr. Lewis’ first assignment of error is
overruled.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR THREE
MR. LEWIS’ CONVICTIONS ARE AGAINST THE MANIFEST WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE POSSESSION (sic) IN VIOLATION OF THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE OF THE 14TH AMENDMENT OF THE U.S. CONSTITUTION AND ARTICLE I, SECTIONS 1, 10 & 16 OF THE OHIO CONSTITUTION.
6


{¶12} In his third assignment of error, Mr. Lewis argues that his convictions for
kidnapping, abduction, felonious assault, and domestic violence are against the manifest weight
of the evidence. We disagree.
{¶13} When a defendant asserts that his conviction is against the manifest weight of the
evidence:
[A]n appellate court must review the entire record, weigh the evidence and all reasonable inferences, consider the credibility of witnesses and determine whether, in resolving conflicts in the evidence, the trier of fact clearly lost its way and created such a manifest miscarriage of justice that the conviction must be reversed and a new trial ordered.
State v. Otten, 33 Ohio App.3d 339, 340 (9th Dist.1986). “When a court of appeals reverses a
judgment of a trial court on the basis that the verdict is against the weight of the evidence, the
appellate court sits as a ‘thirteenth juror’ and disagrees with the fact[-]finder’s resolution of the
conflicting testimony.” State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 387 (1997), quoting Tibbs v.
Florida, 457 U.S. 31, 42 (1982). An appellate court should exercise the power to reverse a
judgment as against the manifest weight of the evidence only in exceptional cases. Otten at 340.
{¶14} Initially, we note that Mr. Lewis, in setting forth his argument, asserts several
times that the State set forth “no evidence” to support certain elements of his convictions. He
contends both that the trier of fact lost its way and that the State “failed to prove all elements of
the crimes charged beyond a reasonable doubt.” The latter argument, however, sounds in
sufficiency rather than weight. See State v. Bressi, 9th Dist. Summit No. 27575, 2016-Ohio
5211, ¶ 25 (“Sufficiency concerns the burden of production and tests whether the prosecution
presented adequate evidence for the case to go to the jury.”). Because Mr. Lewis’ stated
assignment of error presents this Court with strictly a weight challenge and because that is the
only standard of review that he sets forth in his brief, we limit our review to that issue. See State
7


v. Poland, 9th Dist. Medina No. 14CA0003-M, 2014-Ohio-5737, ¶ 24. See also State v. Kepich,
9th Dist. Summit No. 27520, 2015-Ohio-1920, fn. 1.
{¶15} A person commits kidnapping when he, “by force, threat, or deception, * * *
remove[s] another from the place where the other person is found or restrain[s] the liberty of the
other person * * * [t]o facilitate the commission of any felony * * *.” R.C. 2905.01(A)(2). An
abduction occurs when a person, “without privilege to do so, [] knowingly[,] * * * [b]y force or
threat, restrain[s] the liberty of another person under circumstances that create a risk of physical
harm to the victim or place the other person in fear * * *.” R.C. 2905.02(A)(2). A felonious
assault occurs when a person “knowingly * * * [c]ause[s] serious physical harm to another * *
*.” R.C. 2903.11(A)(1). If the person “knowingly cause[s] * * * physical harm to a family or
household member,” his actions constitute domestic violence. R.C. 2919.25(A).
{¶16} The victim here testified that she knew Mr. Lewis for about seven years before
the events giving rise to this matter occurred. The two dated for much of that time and lived
together for part of that time. As their relationship progressed, the victim found Mr. Lewis to be
increasingly controlling. She testified that he struck her for the first time at some point before
April 2013, when she was living on her own at an apartment on Dayton Street. She also
described a separate incident where Mr. Lewis slammed her hand in a car door and broke her
finger. She stated that it was impossible to break ties with Mr. Lewis because he would
constantly call her, show up unannounced at her place of employment, and come to her home
and “beat on the door.”
{¶17} On the evening of August 2, 2014, the victim arrived home from work. At that
time, she resided with her roommate who was a close, personal friend. The victim testified that
Mr. Lewis repeatedly called her cell phone that evening, but she ignored his calls. He then began
8


calling her roommate’s phone, but she instructed her roommate not to answer. A little while
later, the victim heard a loud truck arrive outside, recognized it as Mr. Lewis’, and decided to go
outside and speak to him. Although the victim initially stood outside Mr. Lewis’ truck to speak
with him, he eventually convinced her to get into the truck. The two spoke for a few more
minutes before Mr. Lewis began driving away. The victim stated that she asked Mr. Lewis
where he was taking her and told him that she did not want to go anywhere with him, but Mr.
Lewis did not respond. Instead, he drove her to his residence on Springdale Street.
{¶18} Once she and Mr. Lewis arrived at his residence, Mr. Lewis repeatedly attempted
to convince the victim to come inside. The victim, however, refused to exit the truck. Mr. Lewis
then exited the truck, walked to the passenger’s side, opened the victim’s door, and grabbed her
with both hands. As the victim struggled to remain inside the truck and threatened to scream if
Mr. Lewis did not release her, Mr. Lewis struck her in the face. The victim testified that Mr.
Lewis repeatedly hit her in the face before grabbing her by the hair and dragging her towards the
back door of the house. Mr. Lewis led the victim up the back stairs and onto his raised porch.
Before he could open the door to the house, however, the victim shook herself loose from Mr.
Lewis and jumped from the porch. In doing so, she seriously injured her knee.
{¶19} The victim described the pain in her knee as the worst that she had ever
experienced. She indicated that the pain made it difficult to remember the details that followed,
but she recalled Mr. Lewis taking her into the basement of his home. She testified that she
begged Mr. Lewis numerous times to take her to the hospital, but he did not respond.
Additionally, because Mr. Lewis took her cell phone, the victim could not call for help herself.
She testified that Mr. Lewis looked through her cell phone and questioned her about her text
messages as she suffered. Finally, somewhere around 5:00 a.m. the following morning, Mr.
9


Lewis called 911. When the victim finally received treatment, she learned that she needed
surgery for a dislocated knee and a fractured tibia. She also suffered from a black eye and
swelling to the right side of her face.
{¶20} The paramedic and EMT who responded to Mr. Lewis’ home both testified that
the victim was experiencing extreme pain when they arrived. The paramedic described the
victim as being upset and “slow to answer questions.” He confirmed that the victim’s self
professed boyfriend remained close by while he attempted to ask the victim about her injuries.
When he asked the victim how she had been hurt, she stated that she had fallen off the back
porch. The paramedic indicated that he found her response odd because he did not understand
why she was in the basement if she was injured outside. He testified that, in his experience as a
paramedic, it is not uncommon for abuse victims to deny any accusations of assault when their
assailants are present. He recalled that it was difficult to remove the victim from the basement
because they had to carry her out and she was screaming from the pain in her knee.
{¶21} The emergency room physician who treated the victim at the hospital testified
that she had “an obvious deformity of her knee” and was in a lot of pain. He stated that he had to
ask the victim a number of times what had happened because, initially, she was hesitant to
describe specifically how she had been injured. After he spoke with her for a while longer,
however, the victim finally admitted that she had been assaulted.
{¶22} The same day that he treated the victim, the physician also treated Mr. Lewis for a
broken pinkie finger. He testified that Mr. Lewis sustained what is commonly referred to as a
“boxer’s fracture,” so named because it is “a punching type fracture.” The physician agreed that
Mr. Lewis’ injury would be consistent with either punching someone or falling onto a hard
surface with a clenched fist.
10


{¶23} Officer Dawn Forney was dispatched to the hospital to speak to the victim after
the hospital staff learned that she had suffered an attack. She testified that the victim’s right knee
was splinted and she had bruising and swelling to her face, scratches to the neck, and scrapes to
the elbow. She described the victim as being “obviously upset” and observed that she “seemed
generally in fear.” The victim described how her boyfriend had punched her in the face when
she refused to get out of his truck. She further described resisting her boyfriend as he pulled her
onto the back porch area and falling from the porch as she attempted to get away. The victim
informed Officer Forney that she was unable to walk after the fall and that her boyfriend took her
to his basement and kept her there for several hours before calling for help. Officer Forney
stated that the victim knew her boyfriend was also receiving treatment at the hospital and was
afraid he might come into her room.
{¶24} Following Officer Forney’s interview, Detective John Bell was assigned to
investigate the matter. Detective Bell spoke to the victim at the hospital a few hours after she
was admitted. He described her as “distressed, scared” and stated that he could see visible
swelling to the right side of her face. He learned from the victim that Mr. Lewis, her boyfriend,
had beaten her. The victim described how Mr. Lewis took her to his residence and tried to
convince her to come inside. She further described how, when she refused to get out of the
truck, Mr. Lewis repeatedly punched her and dragged her to the back door of his house. The
victim told the detective that she fell from Mr. Lewis’ patio and broke her leg while trying to
break away from him. She stated that Mr. Lewis then took her into his basement and took her
cell phone from her. The victim estimated that Mr. Lewis brought her to his house at about
10:00 p.m. that evening, but Detective Bell noted that Mr. Lewis did not call 911 until just after
5:00 a.m.
11


{¶25} As a part of its case in chief, the State played the 911 call that Mr. Lewis placed.
During the call, Mr. Lewis asked the dispatcher to send an ambulance because there was a
woman with an injured knee. He also informed the dispatcher that he thought he broke his hand
attempting to catch the woman. Mr. Lewis expressed to the dispatcher his concern that the
victim kept screaming and that one of his neighbors might call the police if they mistakenly
believed that her screams were due to an altercation.
{¶26} Detective Bell testified that he spoke with Mr. Lewis on the phone a few days
after this incident occurred. During their conversation, Mr. Lewis stated that he picked up the
victim on the evening of August 2nd because the two had plans to talk about their relationship
problems. According to Mr. Lewis, he took the victim to a restaurant and then brought her to his
house because he remodeled and wanted to show her. He stated that the victim tripped on a
bucket while he was opening his back door and that he grabbed her as she fell from the porch.
He stated that he was unable to keep his balance, so he fell along with her and injured his hand as
they hit the ground. Mr. Lewis told the detective that he brought the victim into the basement
and gave her a pain reliever for her knee, but did not call 911 because she was worried about the
cost of an ambulance ride. He stated that he let the victim rest in the basement while he washed
her clothes for the hospital. When it was time to go, however, he could not get the victim up the
stairs by himself. He then went to the local gas station to look for someone to help him carry her
upstairs. When that plan failed, he called 911.
{¶27} The victim’s roommate also testified on behalf of the State. She described herself
as the victim’s best friend for the last 27 years and testified that she was acquainted with Mr.
Lewis through the victim. She indicated that she initially found Mr. Lewis to be nice, but later
changed her mind. She described how the victim’s demeanor changed as her relationship with
12


Mr. Lewis continued. Specifically, she found that the victim was “always scared and worrying”
as time went on. She indicated that the victim would try ending her relationship with Mr. Lewis,
but that he “would stalk her” by constantly calling her and coming to her house. She stated that
she was at home with the victim on August 2nd when Mr. Lewis repeatedly called their cell
phones and then showed up in his truck. She testified that, as Mr. Lewis sat outside and blew his
horn, the victim decided she would go out and talk to him. She testified that the victim appeared
to be very scared as she walked outside. Although she repeatedly tried to call the victim’s cell
phone as the night wore on, the victim never answered.
{¶28} One of the victim’s co-workers and her boss also testified for the State. Her co
worker testified that he had worked with the victim for the past six years and knew Mr. Lewis
because he would come into the store on occasion to speak with the victim. He testified that the
victim’s relationship with Mr. Lewis began to sour in 2013 and that the victim lost focus at work.
He testified that there were times the victim would answer a call at work and “[t]he moment she
would get on the phone her demeanor would change, and you knew who she was talking to.” He
testified that Mr. Lewis was eventually banned from the store, but that he would still drive up
and down the street there. He specified that the store had large front windows, such that the
employees could easily see a car from the street. He also testified that, occasionally, Mr. Lewis
“would just appear around the corner of the building as we were sitting out there smoking.”
{¶29} The victim’s boss testified that the victim was an excellent employee, but lost her
focus as her relationship with Mr. Lewis deteriorated. She testified that Mr. Lewis initially
appeared to be a nice guy and frequently would bring the store employees lunch when he came
to visit. By summer 2013, however, there was a dramatic shift, and Mr. Lewis became very
possessive. The victim’s boss testified that Mr. Lewis would constantly call the store and
13


interrupt the victim while she was working. She testified that she had to confront Mr. Lewis
after the victim lost her store keys because she thought Mr. Lewis had them. The victim’s boss
testified that Mr. Lewis initially denied taking the keys, but, when she threatened to call the
police, he told her it was not her business. According to the victim’s boss, Mr. Lewis told her to
“stay the f*** out of it” and warned that, if she did not, “he would kill [her] and * * * burn the
place to the ground.” The victim’s boss confirmed that she banned Mr. Lewis from the store
after the incident regarding the keys. Nevertheless, she confirmed that Mr. Lewis would still
drive to the area and sit in his truck in one of the nearby parking lots. She testified that she made
sure the victim was never alone at the store.
{¶30} In his defense, Mr. Lewis presented the testimony of several former neighbors and
a friend, all of whom were somewhat familiar with the victim from the time that she and Mr.
Lewis lived together. None of the individuals who testified mentioned any instances where they
noted any point of concern regarding Mr. Lewis and the victim’s relationship. They each
admitted, however, that they had extremely limited interactions with the victim or simply saw
her from a distance on occasion.
{¶31} Mr. Lewis also testified in his own defense. He stated that he and the victim
started dating in 2007 and began living together in 2009. According to Mr. Lewis, the victim
never formally moved out of his house, but would stay elsewhere on occasion before returning.
He testified that he picked up the victim on August 2nd because they had plans to go back to his
house and watch a movie. He testified that he led the victim up his back stairs and tried to keep a
hand on her because there were items strewn around his raised porch. As he reached to open the
door, he heard the victim stumble and hit a bucket on the porch. According to Mr. Lewis, he
14


immediately reached back to catch the victim, but she fell from the porch and brought him down
with her.
{¶32} Mr. Lewis testified that both he and the victim stood up after the fall, and the
victim indicated that she had hurt her knee. He testified that the victim was able to walk with
assistance, and he brought her down to his basement and gave her a pain reliever. According to
Mr. Lewis, the victim dirtied her clothes when she fell, so he removed them and washed them so
that he could take her to the hospital. He testified that he waited to take her to the hospital
because her knee injury did not appear to be that bad and she was able to relax once he gave her
a pain reliever. He stated that the two watched television and later had sexual intercourse. As
the evening wore on, however, the victim’s discomfort worsened, and Mr. Lewis thought they
should call an ambulance. Mr. Lewis claimed that the victim did not want him to call for an
ambulance because she could not afford the bill. He testified that he later left and walked to the
gas station to try to find someone to help him carry the victim out of the basement. Yet, he
ultimately called for an ambulance because the victim was “in a little bit of pain” and it was too
risky to move her.
{¶33} Mr. Lewis acknowledged that he also received treatment at the hospital for an
injury to his left hand. He denied, however, that he ever punched the victim. He also denied
stalking the victim, harassing her with phone calls, or being banned from her workplace. He
acknowledged that he sometimes drove to the area where the victim worked, but testified that he
did so because it was located nearby other businesses that he frequented. He stated that he had
no idea why the victim had accused him of assault because their relationship “was great.”
{¶34} Mr. Lewis challenges his convictions for kidnapping, abduction, felonious assault,
and domestic violence as being against the manifest weight of the evidence. He argues that the
15


evidence was such that the victim voluntarily got into his truck and accompanied him to his
house without him forcing her to do so. He further argues that the victim was unable to testify
that he kept her against her will because she admitted that she could not remember much of what
happened in the basement. As for the felonious assault and domestic violence charges, he argues
that the victim either fell or jumped from his porch on her own. He notes that the emergency
room physician who examined both him and the victim admitted that their injuries were
consistent with a fall.
{¶35} Having reviewed the record, we cannot conclude that the jury lost its way when it
convicted Mr. Lewis of kidnapping, abduction, felonious assault, and domestic violence.
Multiple witnesses testified that Mr. Lewis engaged in stalking behavior once the victim tried to
end their relationship. The jury also heard the victim testify that: (1) she repeatedly told Mr.
Lewis she did not want to go with him on the evening of August 2nd and did not want to go into
his house; (2) Mr. Lewis punched her in the face multiple times before dragging her from his
truck; (3) she injured her knee attempting to escape Mr. Lewis; (4) she suffered immediate and
severe pain from her injury; and (5) Mr. Lewis took her cell phone and kept her in his basement
for over seven hours before finally calling 911. Although Mr. Lewis denied all of the victim’s
accusations and claimed they had a “great” relationship, “the trier of fact [was] in the best
position to determine the credibility of witnesses and evaluate their testimony accordingly.”
State v. Johnson, 9th Dist. Summit No. 25161, 2010-Ohio-3296, ¶ 15. This Court “will not
overturn a conviction as being against the manifest weight of the evidence simply because the
trier of fact chose to believe the State’s version of events over another version.” State v. Barger,
9th Dist. Medina No. 14CA0074-M, 2016-Ohio-443, ¶ 29. Because Mr. Lewis has not shown
that this is the exceptional case where the jury lost its way by convicting him, we reject his
16


argument that his convictions are against the manifest weight of the evidence. See Otten, 33
Ohio App.3d at 340. His third assignment of error is overruled.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR TWO
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED AS A MATTER OF LAW BECAUSE THE STATE FAILED TO ESTABLISH ON THE RECORED (sic) SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THE CHARGES LEVIED AGAINST MR. CELLI (sic) IN VIOLATION OF THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE OF THE 14TH AMENDMENT TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION AND ARTICLE I, SECTIONS 1, 10 & 16 OF THE OHIO CONSTITUTION.
{¶36} In his second assignment of error, Mr. Lewis alleges that he received ineffective
assistance of counsel because his counsel failed to present a compelling Crim.R. 29(A) motion
on his behalf at either the close of the State’s case or the conclusion of trial. We disagree.
{¶37} To prove ineffective assistance of counsel, Mr. Lewis must establish that (1) his
counsel’s performance was deficient, and (2) “the deficient performance prejudiced the defense.”
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984). To demonstrate prejudice, he must prove
that “there exists a reasonable probability that, were it not for counsel’s [deficient performance],
the result of the trial would have been different.” State v. Bradley, 42 Ohio St.3d 136 (1989),
paragraph three of the syllabus. This Court need not address both prongs of Strickland if Mr.
Lewis fails to prove either one. State v. Ray, 9th Dist. Summit No. 22459, 2005-Ohio-4941, ¶
10.
{¶38} At the close of the State’s case, defense counsel indicated that he was making a
general motion for acquittal on all counts without argument, “unless the court somehow wants to
entertain oral argument.” Likewise, when renewing his motion for acquittal, defense counsel did
not articulate any specific grounds for his motion. Mr. Lewis argues that his counsel’s failure to
articulate an argument on his behalf prejudiced him because the State failed to prove its case
17
beyond a reasonable doubt and, had his counsel argued more effectively, “there was a reasonable
probability that the trial result would have been different * * *.”
{¶39} Mr. Lewis has not shown that he was prejudiced due to his counsel’s failure to
articulate a more compelling motion for acquittal. First, “‘a Crim.R. 29 motion is not necessary
to preserve the issue of sufficiency for appeal.’” State v. Litten, 9th Dist. Summit Nos. 26812,
2014-Ohio-577, ¶ 43, quoting State v. Good, 9th Dist. Wayne Nos. 10CA0056 and 10CA0057,
2011-Ohio-5077, ¶ 26. Mr. Lewis was free to raise a sufficiency challenge on appeal, regardless
of his counsel’s alleged failure to articulate a more compelling motion for acquittal on his behalf.
Second, the record does not support Mr. Lewis’ contention that, had his counsel argued more
persuasively, the result here might have been different. See State v. Slater, 9th Dist. Summit No.
28049, 2016-Ohio-7766, ¶ 12. A motion for acquittal requires the court to view the evidence in a
light most favorable to the prosecution and ask whether “any rational trier of fact could have
found the essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt.” State v. Jenks, 61
Ohio St.3d 259 (1991), paragraph two of the syllabus. As noted above, the victim here
specifically testified that Mr. Lewis took her against her will, repeatedly punched her, and kept
her in his basement for over seven hours while she was suffering a painful and debilitating
injury. “In viewing the above evidence in a light most favorable to the State, Mr. [Lewis’]
Crim.R. 29 motion, no matter how persuasive, clearly would have been denied.” Slater at ¶ 12.
Thus, he cannot demonstrate prejudice as a result of his counsel’s decision to make an
abbreviated argument in support of his motion. Mr. Lewis’ second assignment of error is
overruled.

Outcome:

Mr. Lewis’ assignments of error are overruled. The judgment of the Summit County Court of Common Pleas is affirmed.

Judgment affirmed.

Plaintiff's Experts:

Defendant's Experts:

Comments:



 
 
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