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Date: 05-21-2020

Case Style:

STATE OF OHIO -vs- ELLIOTT M. EUTSEY

Case Number: 2018-CA-00045

Judge: William B. Hoffman

Court: COURT OF APPEALS STARK COUNTY, OHIO FIFTH APPELLATE DISTRICT

Plaintiff's Attorney: JOHN D. FERRERO
KATHLEEN O. TATARSKY

Defendant's Attorney:

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On November 16, 2017, the Stark County Grand Jury indicted Appellant on
one count of domestic violence, in violation of R.C. 2919.25(A), a felony of the third
degree; one count of criminal damaging or endangering, in violation of R.C.
2909.06(A)(1), a misdemeanor of the first degree; and one count of intimidation of an
attorney, victim, or witness in a criminal case, in violation of R.C. 2921.04(A), a
misdemeanor of the first degree, all resulting from an October 1, 2017 incident involving
Kimberly Mitchell, the mother of Appellant's three children. Appellant was arrested on
October 6, 2017, and was held in the Stark County Jail throughout the pendency of the
matter. Appellant appeared for arraignment on November 22, 2017, and entered a plea
of not guilty to the Indictment. The trial court appointed Attorney Kimberly Stout to
represent Appellant.
{¶3} At his initial pretrial on December 4, 2017, the trial court advised Appellant,
in exchange for his entering a guilty plea, the court would order Appellant to complete a
presentence investigation with judicial release being the worst possible outcome.
Appellant requested time to consider the offer, and the trial court continued the pretrial
for one week to give Appellant time to do so. At the pretrial held on December 11, 2017,
Appellant requested a jury trial. The trial court scheduled the matter for trial on January
4, 2018. The trial court conducted the third pretrial hearing on December 29, 2017, at
which time the 30 hours of jail house calls made between Appellant and Mitchell were
Stark County, Case No. 2018-CA-00045 3
discussed. Appellant asserted some of these calls were “exculpatory evidence.” The trial
court also noted Appellant was being held on bond in the instant action, but was also
being held on a probation holder in two unrelated cases; therefore, he was not entitled to
“triple count” and the State had 270 days in which to bring him to trial in order to preserve
Appellant’s speedy trial rights. The trial court continued the trial until February 6, 2018.
{¶4} At the fourth pretrial on January 29, 2018, the prosecutor advised the trial
court the State had made a new offer to Appellant. In exchange for his entering a guilty
plea, the State would recommend a term of incarceration of 12 months, to be served
consecutively to the sentence imposed by Stark County Common Pleas Judge John Haas
for the probation violations in the unrelated cases. Appellant rejected the offer.
{¶5} On February 5, 2018, the State filed a Notice of Intent to Introduce Evidence
pursuant to Evidence Rule 804(B)(6), asking the trial court to admit the prior testimonial
statements of the victim, Kimberly Mitchell. The State argued Appellant's wrongdoing
caused the victim to be unavailable; therefore, the statements were not barred by the
Confrontation Clause. Specifically, the State sought to admit the body camera footage
of Mitchell’s statement to the police and Mitchell’s written statement. On February 6,
2018, the trial court conducted a pretrial. The State indicated it had counted over 130 jail
calls between Appellant and Mitchell. Due to Appellant violating the trial court’s no contact
order, the trial court revoked Appellant’s jail phone privileges except for calls to his
attorney. The State also filed a Motion for Custody of a Material Witness as its attempt
to secure Mitchell’s appearance had been futile and Mitchell appeared to be avoiding
service of the subpoena for trial. The trial court granted the motion via Order filed
February 5, 2018. The trial court also issued a capias for Mitchell.
Stark County, Case No. 2018-CA-00045 4
{¶6} At a pretrial on February 13, 2018, the State requested a continuance as it
had been unable to locate Mitchell and law enforcement had been unable to serve the
capias. Mitchell refused to cooperate, failing to keep her appointments with prosecutors,
failing to answer her door when the state attempted in-person contact, and failing to
appear in court. The State advised the trial court Mitchell’s presence was necessary for
the State to proceed with its case. The defense objected to any further continuances.
The trial court continued the matter until February 21, 2018.
{¶7} Mitchell failed to appear for trial on February 21, 2018. The State made a
record of its attempts to reach her. Despite the trial court’s revocation of his jail phone
privileges, Appellant had called Mitchell 15 times and had 7 conversations with her. Over
defense objection, the trial court continued the trial until March 8, 2018.
{¶8} At a pretrial on March 5, 2018, Appellant appeared with new counsel,
Attorney Kyle Stone, whom Mitchell had retained on Appellant’s behalf. Attorney Stone
requested a continuance until March 14, 2018. The trial court advised Attorney Stone it
would appoint a more seasoned attorney to assist him in trying the case. The State
recounted its continued attempts to secure Mitchell’s appearance at trial.
{¶9} On March 8, 2018, Appellant filed an objection to the State’s Notice of Intent
to Introduce Evidence pursuant to Evidence Rule 804(B)(6). Specifically, Appellant
objected to “the proposed use of Defendant and alleged victim’s phone conversation as
evidence.” At the final pretrial on March 12, 2018, Appellant rejected the State’s offer of
a 24 month prison term. The trial court appointed Attorney Rick Pitinii to serve as cocounsel. The trial court granted the State’s Notice of Intent to Introduce Evidence via
Judgment Entry filed March 13, 2018.
Stark County, Case No. 2018-CA-00045 5
{¶10} The matter proceeded to trial on March 14, 2018. Prior to the trial
commencing, Appellant noted his objection to the trial court’s March 13, 2018 ruling on
the State’s Notice of Intent to Introduce Evidence, arguing the phone calls did not rise to
the level of forfeiture wrongdoing. Appellant did not address the police body camera
footage or Mitchell’s written statement. Appellant stipulated to the authenticity of the jail
phone calls the State intended to introduce, but did not stipulate to the parties to those
calls. Mitchell did not appear at trial.
{¶11} During the testimony of Officer Anthony Birone, the State played body
camera footage of Mitchell’s testimonial statement to police. Appellant did not object to
the admission of the body camera footage at the time it was played in court or when the
State offered it into evidence. Officer Barone also read Mitchell’s written statement into
the record. Appellant did not object to the witness statement when it was read during
Officer Barone’s testimony or when the State offered it into evidence.
{¶12} After hearing all the evidence and deliberating, the jury found Appellant
guilty of domestic violence and criminal damaging or endangering, but not guilty of
intimidation of an attorney, victim or witness in a criminal case. The trial court sentenced
Appellant to an aggregate term of imprisonment of 36 months. Appellant appealed his
convictions and sentence to this Court, which affirmed. State v. Eutsey, 5th Dist. Stark
App. No. 2018CA0045, 2018 -Ohio- 4807.
{¶13} On February 26, 2019, Appellant filed a pro se Application for Reopening
pursuant to App. R. 26(B) and State v. Murnahan. Therein, Appellant alleged appellate
counsel was ineffective for failing to raise claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel
due to trial counsel’s failure to object to the trial court’s denial of his right to confront
Stark County, Case No. 2018-CA-00045 6
witnesses against him; failure to file a motion to dismiss on speedy trial grounds; and
failure to challenge the seated jury which did not include any African Americans. Via
Judgment Entry filed April 3, 2019, this Court granted reopening for consideration of the
assignments of error raised in Appellant’s Application for Reopening. We ordered the
parties to proceed with briefing as if on initial appeal.
{¶14} Appellant raises the following assignments of error:
I. APPELLANT WAS DENIED EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF
COUNSEL BECAUSE HIS TRIAL COUNSEL FAILED TO OBJECT TO
THE TRIAL COURT’S DENIAL OF HIS RIGHT TO CONFRONT
WITNESSES AS GUARANTEED BY THE SIXTH AMENDMENT TO THE
UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION.
II. APPELLANT WAS DENIED EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF
COUNSEL BECAUSE HIS TRIAL COUNSEL DID NOT FILE A MOTION
TO DISMISS ON THE GROUNDS THAT THE TRIAL COURT DENIED
APPELLANT HIS RIGHT TO A SPEEDY TRIAL AS GUARANTEED BY
THE SIXTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION.
III. APPELLANT’S SIXTH AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT
RIGHTS WERE VIOLATED BECAUSE THERE WERE NO AFRICAN
AMERICAN JURORS IN HIS VENIRE.

Stark County, Case No. 2018-CA-00045 7
Ineffective Assistance of Appellate Counsel
{¶15} A claim of ineffective assistance of counsel requires a two-prong analysis.
The first inquiry is whether counsel's performance fell below an objective standard of
reasonable representation involving a substantial violation of any of counsel's essential
duties to Appellant. The second prong is whether Appellant was prejudiced by counsel's
ineffectiveness. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052 (1984); State v.
Bradley, 42 Ohio St.3d 136, 538 N.E.2d 373 (1989). In order to warrant a finding counsel
was ineffective, Appellant must meet both the deficient performance and prejudice prongs
of Strickland and Bradley. Knowles v. Mirzayance, 556 U.S. 111, 129 S.Ct. 1411, 1419,
173 L.Ed.2d 251 (2009). We apply the Strickland test to all claims of ineffective assistance
of counsel, both trial counsel, or appellate counsel. State v. Turner, Licking App.
No.2006–CA–123, 2007–Ohio–4583; State v. Godfrey (Sept. 2, 1999), Licking App. No.
97CA0155, 1999 WL 770253.
{¶16} In regard to claims of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, the United
States Supreme Court has upheld the appellate advocate's prerogative to decide strategy
and tactics by selecting what he thinks are the most promising arguments out of all
possible contentions. Jones v. Barnes, 463 U.S. 745, 751–752, 103 S.Ct. 3308, 77
L.Ed.2d 987 (1983). Therefore, judges should not second-guess reasonable professional
judgments and impose on appellate counsel the duty to raise every “colorable” issue.
State v. Allen, 77 Ohio St.3d 172, 1996–Ohio–366, 672 N.E.2d 638
I.
{¶17} In his first assignment of error, Appellant contends appellate counsel was
ineffective for failing to raise a claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel due to trial
Stark County, Case No. 2018-CA-00045 8
counsel’s failure to object to the trial court’s denial of his right to confront witnesses
against him.
{¶18} The Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the United States
Constitution provides “[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right * * *
to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” State v. Anderson, 154 Ohio App.3d
789, 2003–Ohio–5439, 798 N.E.2d 1155, ¶ 22 (7th Dist.). Furthermore, the Ohio
Constitution, Article I, Section 10, states in pertinent part: “* * * In any trial, in any court,
the party accused shall be allowed to appear and defend in person and with counsel; to
demand the nature and cause of the accusation against him, and to have a copy thereof;
to meet the witnesses face to face * * *.”
{¶19} In Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 124 S.Ct. 1354, 158 L.Ed.2d 177
(2004), the United States Supreme Court held testimonial statements of a witness who
does not appear at trial may not be admitted or used against a criminal defendant unless
the declarant is unavailable to testify, and the defendant had a prior opportunity for crossexamination. State v. Garrison, 5th Dist. Muskingum No. CT2017-0034, 2018-Ohio-1048,
¶ 13.
{¶20} “Forfeiture by wrongdoing has long been recognized as an equitable
exception to a defendant's constitutional right to confront the witnesses against him.”
State v. McKelton, 148 Ohio St.3d 261, 2016-Ohio-5735, ¶ 96, citing Giles v. California,
554 U.S. 353, 366, 128 S.Ct. 2678, 171 L.Ed.2d 488 (2008), and Reynolds v. United
States, 98 U.S. 145, 158, 25 L.Ed. 244 (1878). Ohio codified this doctrine in 2001, as a
hearsay exception under Evid.R. 804(B)(6), which provides:
Stark County, Case No. 2018-CA-00045 9
(B) Hearsay Exceptions. The following are not excluded by the
hearsay rule if the declarant is unavailable as a witness:
(6) Forfeiture by Wrongdoing. A statement offered against a party if
the unavailability of the witness is due to the wrongdoing of the party for the
purpose of preventing the witness from attending or testifying. However, a
statement is not admissible under this rule unless the proponent has given
to each adverse party advance written notice of an intention to introduce the
statement sufficient to provide the adverse party a fair opportunity to contest
the admissibility of the statement.
{¶21} To admit statements under this exception, a prosecutor must show by a
preponderance of the evidence: (1) the defendant engaged in wrongdoing which caused
the witness to be unavailable, and (2) one purpose for the wrongdoing was to make the
witness unavailable to testify. See, State v. Fry, supra at ¶ 106; State v. Hand, 107 Ohio
St.3d 378, 2006-Ohio-18, 840 N.E.2d 151, ¶ 84. The State need only show the
defendant's wrongdoing, which caused the witness's unavailability, “was motivated in part
by a desire to silence the witness.” Hand, supra, at ¶¶ 84, 90.
{¶22} Our standard of review of evidentiary rulings implicating the Confrontation
Clause is de novo. State v. McKelton, 148 Ohio St.3d 261, 2016-Ohio-5735, 70 N.E.3d
508, ¶ 97, citing United States v. Henderson, 626 F.3d 326, 333 (6th Cir.2010).
{¶23} Appellant argues the State failed to establish he engaged in wrongdoing.
Appellant explains he did not physically harm Mitchell, he did not threaten Mitchell during
the phone calls, and he did not directly tell Mitchell not to appear in court. Appellant
Stark County, Case No. 2018-CA-00045 10
submits the jury’s acquitting him of the charge of intimidation of an attorney, victim, or
witness in a criminal case confirms he did not engage in any wrongdoing which caused
Mitchell to be unavailable. We disagree.
{¶24} In support of its Notice of Intent to Introduce Evidence, the State provided
the trial court with the jail phone records establishing Appellant made over 100 calls to
Mitchell although there was a no contact order in place. The trial court listened to the
recordings of the calls and found Appellant had attempted to dissuade Mitchell from
testifying. March 13, 2018 Judgment Entry at 3, unpaginated. Despite revoking
Appellant’s jail phone privileges on February 6, 2018, Appellant continued to call Mitchell,
making an additional 15 calls and having 7 conversations with Mitchell as of February 21,
2018. Additionally, the evidence established Mitchell refused to cooperate with the State,
failing to return phone calls, refusing to appear at the Prosecutor’s Office, and not
answering her door when police officers presented at her home. When Mitchell eventually
contacted the prosecutor, she was instructed to appear in court the following Monday, but
did not do so.
{¶25} We find the trial court did not err in admitting Mitchell’s testimonial
statements as the State showed by a preponderance of the evidence Appellant engaged
in wrongdoing which caused Mitchell to be unavailable, and the purpose for the
wrongdoing was to make Mitchell unavailable to testify. We further find the trial court did
not deny Appellant his right to confront witness against him Accordingly, Appellant is
unable to establish any prejudice resulting from trial counsel’s failure to object to the trial
court’s admission of said evidence, and appellate counsel was, likewise, not ineffective
for failing to raise this claim on direct appeal.
Stark County, Case No. 2018-CA-00045 11
{¶26} Appellant’s first assignment of error is overruled.
II
{¶27} In his second assignment of error, Appellant asserts appellate counsel was
ineffective for failing to raise a claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel due to trial
counsel’s failure to file a motion to dismiss on speedy trial grounds.
{¶28} R.C. 2945.71(C)(2) requires “[a] person against whom a charge of felony is
pending * * * be brought to trial within two hundred seventy days after his arrest.” R.C.
2945.71(E) provides “each day during which the accused is held in jail in lieu of bail on
the pending charge shall be counted as three days.” In State v. McDonald, 48 Ohio St.2d
66 (1976), the Ohio Supreme Court held the triple count provision applies “only to those
defendants held in jail in lieu of bail solely on the pending charge.” Id. at syllabus. As
such, when an accused is also being held in jail on a probation violation holder, the triple
count provision does not apply. State v. Martin (1978), 56 Ohio St.2d 207.
{¶29} Appellant concedes he was not entitled to the triple count provision set forth
in R.C. 2945.71(E) because he was also being held in the Stark County Jail on a probation
violation holder. Accordingly, the State had 270 days from October 6, 2017, in which to
bring Appellant to trial.
{¶30} Appellant was arrested on October 6, 2017. On November 27, 2017, the
State requested discovery from Appellant. A review of the docket does not establish
whether Appellant ever responded to the request. The failure of a criminal defendant to
respond to a request for reciprocal discovery within a reasonable time constitutes neglect
which tolls the running of the statutory speedy trial time. State v. Palmer, 112 Ohio St.3d
457, paragraph one of the syllabus, 860 N.E.2d 1011 (2007).
Stark County, Case No. 2018-CA-00045 12
{¶31} On March 5, 2018, Appellant appeared before the trial court with new
counsel, Attorney Kyle Stone. Attorney Stone requested a continuance until March 14,
2018, which the trial court granted. “[S]tatutory speedy trial time is tolled when a
defendant's request for a continuance is made in open court and on the record, or the
reasons for the request are evident from the record, regardless of whether the trial court
specifically journalizes those reasons on its docket.” State v. Martin, 156 Ohio St.3d 503,
2019-Ohio-2010, 129 N.E.3d 437, ¶ 25.
{¶32} Appellant complains the trial court violated his constitutional right to a
speedy trial by granting the State three continuances as it had been unable to secure
Mitchell’ appearance at trial. As discussed in detail in our analysis of Appellant’s first
assignment of error, supra, Appellant’s wrongdoing caused Mitchell to be unavailable for
trial. “When the facts and circumstances of the case show that the underlying source of
the delay was attributable to the defendant,” those delays must be so attributed. Id., citing
State v. Bauer, 61 Ohio St.2d 83, 84, 399 N.E.2d 555 (1980). Further, although the Ohio
Supreme Court has found “there may be situations wherein the [speedy trial] statutes do
not adequately afford the protection guaranteed by the federal and state constitutions”
and it is the duty of the court “to see that an accused receives the protection of the higher
authority,” State v. O'Brien (1987), 34 Ohio St.3d 7, 516 N.E.2d 218, we do not believe
this case is one in which the statutes do not apply as Appellant was brought to trial within
a reasonable time.
{¶33} Based upon the foregoing, we find the trial court did not violate Appellant’s
right to a speedy trial pursuant to R.C 2945.71 as he was tried 158 days after his arrest.
We further find the trial court did not violate Appellant’s constitutional right to a speedy
Stark County, Case No. 2018-CA-00045 13
trial as any delays were the result of his wrongdoing, and he was, otherwise, brought to
trial within a reasonable time.
{¶34} Because we have found no statutory or constitutional violations of
Appellant’s speedy trial rights, we find Appellant cannot establish he was prejudiced by
trial counsel’s failure to file a motion to dismiss evidence, and appellate counsel was,
likewise, not ineffective for failing to raise this claim on direct appeal.
{¶35} Appellant’s second assignment of error is overruled.
III
{¶36} In his final assignment of error, Appellant submits appellate counsel was
ineffective for failing to raise a claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel due to trial
counsel’s failure to challenge the seated jury which did not include any African Americans.
{¶37} The Sixth Amendment guarantee to a jury trial “contemplates a jury drawn
from a fair cross section of the community.” Taylor v. Louisiana (1975), 419 U.S. 522,
527, 95 S.Ct. 692, 696, 42 L.Ed.2d 690, 696. To establish a violation of this requirement,
the “defendant must prove: (1) that the group alleged to be excluded is a ‘distinctive’ group
in the community; (2) that the representation of this group in venires from which juries are
selected is not fair and reasonable in relation to the number of such persons in the
community; and (3) that the representation is due to systematic exclusion of the group in
the jury-selection process.” State v. Fulton (1991), 57 Ohio St.3d 120, 566 N.E.2d 1195,
paragraph two of the syllabus, citing Duren v. Missouri (1979), 439 U.S. 357, 364, 99
S.Ct. 664, 668, 58 L.Ed.2d 579, 586–587.
Stark County, Case No. 2018-CA-00045 14
{¶38} A criminal defendant has no affirmative right to a jury of a particular racial,
gender or age composition. See, United States v. Mack, 159 F.3d 208 (6th Cir.1998);
Taylor v. Louisiana, supra at 538.
{¶39} We find nothing in the record to support Appellant’s assertion there were no
African American jurors in his jury pool. The transcript of the voir dire does not provide
any information regarding the ethnic origins of the jurors. Moreover, Appellant’s claim is
based solely on alleged underrepresentation on his venire. However,
underrepresentation on a single venire is not systematic exclusion violative of a
defendant’s rights under the Sixth Amendment. State v. McNeill, 83 Ohio St.3d 438, 444,
700 N.E.2d 596 (1998).
{¶40} The record lacks any evidence which establishes a violation of Appellant’s
right to a jury of his peers. Because Appellant failed to demonstrate a violation of his
Sixth Amendment rights, we find Appellant cannot establish he was prejudiced by trial
counsel’s failure to challenge the seated jury evidence, and appellate counsel was,
likewise, not ineffective for failing to raise this claim on direct appeal.

Stark County, Case No. 2018-CA-00045 15
{¶41} Appellant’s third assignment of error is overruled.

Outcome: The judgment of the Stark County Court of Common Pleas is affirmed.

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