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State v. Triplett

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District

July 15, 2013

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
JAMIE TRIPLETT, JR. Defendant-Appellant

Criminal appeal from the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2012-CR-0622

For Plaintiff-Appellee JOHN D. FERRERO KATHLEEN TATARSKY

For Defendant-Appellant ANTHONY KAPLANIS

Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P.J. Hon. William B. Hoffman, J. Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, J.

OPINION

Gwin, P.J.

{¶1} Defendant-appellant Jamie Triplett, Jr. ["Triplett"] appeals his convictions and sentences entered by the Stark County Court of Common Pleas on one count of rape, one count of kidnapping and one count of assault. Plaintiff-appellee is the State of Ohio.

Facts and Procedural History

{¶2} On Monday, March 19, 2012 around 12:00 pm, Amanda Tolley, saw a car pull up to the home of Patricia Eddy in Canton, Ohio. Triplett drove the car and in the passenger seat was A.K. Tolley saw having a conversation with Triplett, get out of the car, walk through the gates and enter the Eddy home.

{¶3} Once inside, A.K. fell to the ground in the middle of the floor crying hysterically and could hardly talk. A.K. was covered in bruises. She had marks on her elbow, a bruise on one of her arms and side of her face. In addition, A.K.'s ear was black and blue, she had a gash on her forehead and her legs were scraped. A.K. told her friends, Tolley and Eddy, that Triplett beat her up, raped her, kept her in the house and would not let her leave. She tried to use her cell phone, but Triplett took the battery out. A.K. was afraid to call the police, but did call her parents.

{¶4} A.K. was taken to Aultman Hospital. She was first seen by a doctor. Kimberly Heffner, a registered nurse trained as a sexual assault nurse examiner ["S.A.N.E."] was the next to see A.K. A.K. disclosed that Triplett grabbed her while she was walking on the street, ripped her shirt and necklace, took her to his dad's work, grabbed her by the hair and threatened to kill her. A.K. told Heffner that Triplett hit her in the head, choked her, punched her in the face and threatened her and her family. The next day, he apologized for attacking her and then forced her to have vaginal sex.

{¶5} Heffner examined A.K. further. Heffner observed a "lot of injury" and a "lot of bruises."' A.K. observed bruises on the neck that looked like they were caused by choking, marks under the forehead and both eyes, bruising on the cartilage of an ear, bruising on the left side of the face and jaw, bruising on the arms, elbows, hand and legs, marks on her stomach, back, shoulders and a big red mark on the back of her head.

{¶6} Heffner took samples of A.K.'s fingernail clippings, blood, saliva, specimens from her vagina, the inside of both cheeks, a strand of head hair and pubic hair and developed a sexual assault kit. The kit was given to the Canton Police Department who turned it over to Kylie Graham of the Stark County Crime Laboratory.

{¶7} Graham examined the contents of A.K.'s sexual assault kit including the fluid taken from the vaginal area, semen, blood and saliva. She found the presence of seminal fluid on the vaginal swabs. Graham then compared the sperm found in the sexual assault kit with Triplett's DNA standard. Graham found that the source of the semen in A.K.'s sexual assault kit was Triplett.

{¶8} A.K., five feet one and weighing 110 pounds, testified to the events that started on the evening of March 16, 2012. A.K. testified that she and Triplett went to the home of Steven Moreland and Crystal Franklin to play cards and drink. A.K. went outside to take a phone call regarding her daughter and Triplett came out angry. A.K. started walking down the street to the gas station to call her parents and Triplett came after her, calling her names and ripped her shirt. During the fight, Triplett's gold chain necklace was broken and Triplett blamed A.K., saying he was going to kill her if she did not pay him for it. Triplett told her to get in the car and he took her to his father's semi truck shop. There, he hit her with a long stick, dragged her across the lot and chained her to a truck bumper.

{¶9} Triplett drove around the city with A.K. in the passenger seat trying to find his chain. When she tried to jump out, he grabbed her by the throat. A.K. remembered stopping at the house of a friend of Triplett's named Jack. Triplett went inside while A.K. remained outside the fence in the car. Instead of running away or to a neighbor to call for help, A.K. ran inside the fence. A.K. asked to use the phone, but Jack refused and pushed her out of his yard. Triplett drove to a Speedway station and finally after several hours drove to his home. Triplett told her he was going to hold her hostage until he got the money for the chain.

{¶10} The next morning, Triplett held A.K. down by her arms and had sexual intercourse with her telling her "whether you like it or not, I'm taking it." He held her arms down and covered her mouth because A.K. was screaming and telling him no. Triplett kept her in the house Saturday and Sunday. Sunday morning, he took her upstairs and raped her again.

{¶11} The next morning, Monday, Triplett apologized and said he did not remember a "lot of things" He asked her not to "turn him in or go to the police about it." A.K. assured him she would not "tell on him" and asked to take a shower.

{¶12} A.K. was dropped off at Eddy's house and promised to call him later. Triplett returned her cell phone without a battery.

{¶13} Triplett was arrested about a month after the attack on A.K. and housed in the Stark County Jail awaiting trial. He was placed in the general dormitory area with George Swogger, a self described "low level" criminal." Triplett freely talked about his case and told Swogger that he got into an argument with A.K. when she ripped his chain off. He got in the car - a Camaro - forced A.K. into the car and "then took her to different locations around the city and beat her up." He bragged about taking her to his father's place and chaining her to a bumper. When he took her to his home, he made her have sex with him.

{¶14} Steven Moreland and Crystal Franklin both testified that A.K. willingly got into Triplett's car and refused their offer for a ride. Both Steve and Crystal indicated they saw her the next day with Triplett at his father's company. They both said nothing seemed wrong and in fact, Crystal testified while Triplett was inside A.K. was texting on her phone.

{¶15} Evidence was presented that surveillance video taken while A.K. and Triplett were at the Speedway station showed Triplett get out of the car. The video also showed a vehicle next to their car in the parking lot. The video did not give any indication of something being wrong, such as calls for help.

{¶16} Robert Blymiller testified that A.K. and Triplett came to his house and nothing seemed wrong. Blymiller and Triplett left the home to go to the store, while A.K. remained behind with Blymiller's wife.

{¶17} The Stark County Grand Jury indicted Triplett on one count of rape, a violation of R.C. 2907.02(A)(2) [F1], two counts of kidnapping, a violation of R.C. 2905.01(A)(3) [F1] and one count of felonious assault, a violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(1) and/or (A)(2) [F2]. The two counts of kidnapping contained a sexual motivation specification, R.C. 2941.147.

{¶18} After hearing the evidence and receiving instructions from the trial court, the jury returned a mixed verdict as follows: Guilty of counts one and two, rape and kidnapping but not guilty of the sexual motivation specification; not guilty of count three, kidnapping; not guilty of felonious assault but guilty of assault.

{¶19} Triplett returned to the trial court for sentencing on September 24, 2012. The state argued that the rape and kidnapping should not merge and the trial court agreed. Triplett was sentenced to ten years on the kidnapping conviction, ten years on the rape conviction and 180 days on the assault conviction for an aggregated prison term of twenty years.

Assignments of Error

{¶20} Triplett raises three assignments of error,

{¶21} "I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN PERMITTING HEARSAY TESTIMONY UNDER THE EXCITED UTTERANCE EXCEPTION.

{¶22} "II. THE TRIAL COURT'S FINDING OF GUILTY OF KIDNAPPING, RAPE AND ASSAULT WAS AGAINST THE MANIFEST WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE AND WAS NOT ...


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