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State of Ohio v. Lawrence E. Wilson

November 18, 2011

STATE OF OHIO
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
LAWRENCE E. WILSON
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



(Criminal appeal from Common Pleas Court) T.C. NO. 96CR1019

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Froelich, J.

Cite as State v. Wilson,

OPINION

{¶1} Lawrence Wilson was convicted in 1997 for rape of a child under the age of thirteen. In its termination entry, the trial court sentenced him to nine to twenty-five years of imprisonment, describing the offense, incorrectly, as a felony of the first degree. One month later, the trial court amended its termination entry to state that the offense had been an aggravated felony of the first degree.

The sentence that had originally been imposed was proper for an aggravated felony of the first degree, so the trial court's amendment of the termination entry did not affect the sentence that Wilson was ordered to serve. Since that time, Wilson has challenged the validity of his sentence in numerous court proceedings, many of which will be discussed below.

{¶2} Most recently, in June 2010, Wilson filed a "Motion for Judgment" in the trial court, which requested that the court rule on a "Motion to Correct Void Sentence" that he filed in January 2009. Both of these motions argued that, in various respects, the trial court had acted improperly and/or exceeded its authority in amending the termination entry in 1997. On October 27, 2010, the trial court overruled the Motion to Correct Void Sentence.

The court cited several reasons for its decision, including res judicata and the untimeliness of the motion.

{¶3} Wilson appeals, pro se, raising one assignment of error.

{¶4} "THE TRIAL COURT EXCEEDED ITS AUTHORITY IN DENYING APPELLANT'S MOTION TO CORRECT A VOID SENTENCE, BECAUSE HIS SENTENCE IS VOID, IN VIOLATION OF THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSES OF BOTH THE UNITED STATES AND THE OHIO CONSTITUTIONS."

{¶5} Wilson raises several arguments under this assignment of error, all of which relate to the validity of his 1997 sentence.

{¶6} First, Wilson contends that the termination entry filed by the trial court was not a final appealable order because it did not state the manner of conviction, i.e., that he was found guilty by a jury. However, this error was clerical in nature, and the trial court was permitted to - and did - correct it through a nunc pro tunc entry.*fn1 See State ex rel. DeWine v. Burge, 128 Ohio St.3d 236, 2011-Ohio-235, ¶18. Moreover, the Supreme Court recently stated that the finality of a judgment entry is not affected by a trial court's failure to include the manner of conviction. State v. Lester, Ohio St.3d, 2011-Ohio-5204, ¶12. Thus, Wilson's argument that the judgment entries filed in July and August 1997 were not final appealable orders is without merit.

{¶7} Second, Wilson contends that his 1997 sentence is void and must be vacated because the "sentence is not statutorily authorized." He also argues that we, the appellate court, had no jurisdiction to review the sentence on appeal because it was not statutorily authorized. He claims that the sentence articulated in open court differed from the journalized sentence.

{¶8} We have already addressed and rejected Wilson's argument. In May 2009, in response to Wilson's pro se petition for a writ of mandamus to correct "a void sentence," we stated:

{ΒΆ9} "On July 30, 1997, the trial court filed a termination entry sentencing Wilson to prison for nine to twenty-five years for raping a child under the age of thirteen in violation of R.C. 2907.02(A)(1)(b). The termination entry incorrectly identified the pre-Senate Bill 2 offense as an 'F1,' or first-degree felony. On August 25, 1997, the trial court filed an amended termination entry correctly identifying the offense as an aggravated first-degree felony. The amended entry did not alter Wilson's sentence, which was appropriate for a violation of R.C. 2907.02(A)(1)(b). Nor did the trial court increase Wilson's offense level. By statute, ...


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