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State v. Cooperwood

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District

August 8, 2013

STATE OF OHIO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
WALTER COOPERWOOD DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case Nos. CR-561050, CR-561051, and CR-561115

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Richard Agopian

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Timothy J. McGinty Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, Kristin Karkutt John D. Toth Assistant County Prosecutors

BEFORE: McCormack, J., Stewart, A.J., and Keough, J.

JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

TIM McCORMACK, JUDGE

{¶1} Defendant-appellant, Walter Cooperwood, appeals from a judgment of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas that sentenced him to a total of 22 years in prison for his conviction of attempted rape, robbery, failure to comply, receiving stolen property, and attempted felonious assault, in three separate cases. Cooperwood was 17 at the time he committed the offenses. He argues on appeal that the juvenile court failed to give reasons to support its decision to transfer him to adult court. He argues additionally that the trial court's imposition of consecutive sentences is contrary to law. After a careful review of the record, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

Substantive Facts and Procedural History

{¶2} Cooperwood, using the name "Silence, " met a female on "Backpage, " an Internet dating site. He arranged to personally meet with her. As instructed, on July 19, 2011, around 2:00 a.m., the female drove to a house at West 33rd Street and Denison Street to meet him. When she got there, standing outside the house was Cooperwood and another man unknown to her. The unknown man quickly came to the driver's side of her vehicle, put a gun to her head, told her to get out of her vehicle and lie on the ground. He then took her purse. He and Cooperwood then picked her off the ground and ordered her to walk to the back of the house.

{¶3} As she walked, Cooperwood kept saying, "Yeah, bitch, we are about to dog you." When they got to the side of the house, Cooperwood stood behind her, pulled her undergarments down and raped her. The other man ordered her to perform fellatio on him and also raped her after Cooperwood was finished. They then ordered her to lie on the ground. They sped off with her purse and her vehicle. A woman living in the house heard her screaming and came to her rescue.

{¶4} The state filed a complaint regarding these incidents in the juvenile court and also filed a motion for a bindover to the common pleas court. On January 19, 2012, the juvenile court held a preliminary hearing to determine probable cause in the case. Juv.R. 30 mandates just such a hearing before the juvenile court can transfer jurisdiction to the common pleas court. At this hearing, the court heard testimony from the victim and Officer Beveridge, who investigated the incident. The court found probable cause existed and ordered a full psychological report, also as required by Juv.R. 30 before a bindover could occur.

{¶5} While in the juvenile detention center, Cooperwood planned and incited a riot on New Year's Day, 2012, by dancing and punching people. One of the detained youths was punched and fell to the ground. While he was down, Cooperwood kicked him in the face. The victim received four stitches for his injury. Regarding this incident, Cooperwood later stated, "I might as well have my fun." Based on this incident, Cooperwood was charged with felonious assault.

{¶6} On February 23, 2012, the juvenile court held a preliminary hearing to determine probable cause in the felonious assault case. The victim testified regarding the incident at the detention center and the injury he sustained. The court similarly found probable cause in the felonious assault case and also ordered a full psychological evaluation.

{¶7} At this hearing, the court determined that probable cause existed for yet another case, where Cooperwood was charged with failure to comply, receiving stolen property, and vandalism. That incident happened on July 6, 2011, two weeks before the rape incident.

{¶8} According to several witnesses' testimony, on that day, Cooperwood stole a Dodge Dakota from a driveway. Later that day, he got into a confrontation with a coffee shop owner. As he tried to leave the scene with two friends in the stolen truck, a police officer responded to the disturbance call and attempted to pull over the vehicle. Instead of complying, Cooperwood took off at a high speed, cut through a parking lot, ran a traffic light, and traveled on the wrong side of the street. One of the passengers bailed out. Cooperwood then drove the truck through residential backyards and eventually crashed into the side of a house. The resident of the house was sitting in her living room watching the 11:00 evening news. The crash damaged the walls of the house and also broke a waterline, which flooded its basement. The police officer apprehended the other passenger, but Cooperwood fled the scene.

{¶9} After hearing the testimony from the stolen truck's owner, the police officer, the passenger who bailed out of the truck, and the resident of the damaged home, the juvenile court found probable cause existed and again ordered a full psychological evaluation.

{¶10} On March 26, 2012, the juvenile court held a combined amenability hearing in all three cases, required by Juv.R. 30(C) before a bindover. The court found a transfer of jurisdiction to be proper.

{¶11} Subsequent to his transfer to the common pleas court, Cooperwood was indicted for rape, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, felonious assault, and various other offenses in these three cases. Under a plea bargain, he pleaded guilty to attempted rape, robbery, and theft in Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-561050; failure to comply, receiving stolen property, and vandalism in Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-561115; and attempted felonious assault in Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-561051.

{¶12} For the rape and robbery case, the trial court imposed eight years for his conviction of attempted rape and eight years for robbery, to run consecutively to each other. For the stolen vehicle case, the court sentenced him to 30 months for failure to comply and 18 months for receiving stolen property, to run consecutively to each other; the court also imposed six months for his conviction of vandalism, to run concurrently with his sentence for receiving stolen property. For the assault case, the court sentenced him to two years for his conviction of attempted felonious assault. The sentences in these three cases are to run consecutively, totaling 22 years.

{¶13} Cooperwood filed three separate appeals from the trial court's judgments, and this court consolidated these appeals for briefing, hearing, and disposition. He raises two assignments of error. Under the first assignment of error, he contends that his consecutive sentences are contrary to law. Under the second assignment of error, he claims the juvenile court failed to give reasons to support the bindover. We address the bindover claim first.

Bindover: Juv.R. 30 and R.C. 2152.12

{¶14} Under Ohio's juvenile justice system, two types of transfer exist: discretionary and mandatory. State v. Hanning, 89 Ohio St.3d 86, 2000-Ohio- 436, 728 N.E.2d 1059. Pursuant to R.C. 2152.12, a bindover is mandatory when, for example, a juvenile is 16 or older and commits an offense such as murder.

{¶15} Discretionary transfer, on the other hand, allows the juvenile court discretion to transfer to adult court certain juveniles "who do not appear to be amenable to care or rehabilitation within the juvenile system or appear to be a threat to public safety." State v. D.W., 133 Ohio St.3d 434, 2012-Ohio-4544, 978 N.E.2d 894, ¶ 10, citing Hanning at 90 and R.C. 2152.12.

{¶16} Juv.R. 30 and R.C. 2152.12 set forth procedures to follow for discretionary transfer. Juv.R. 30 ...


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