Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-562386
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Michaele Tyner Rockside Plaza, Suite
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Timothy J. McGinty Cuyahoga County Prosecutor BY: John D. Kirkland Assistant County Prosecutor The Justice Center
BEFORE: Stewart, A.J., Rocco, J., and E.A. Gallagher, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
MELODY J. STEWART, A.J.
(¶ 1} A jury found defendant-appellant Thomas Williams III guilty of felonious assault for kicking a teenaged boy in the mouth following a verbal altercation. The court also found Williams guilty of a notice of prior conviction and a repeat violent offender specification. Williams was sentenced to four years incarceration.
(¶ 2} At trial, several witnesses described the following events taking place on May 2, 2012. A group of teenaged boys were playing basketball in the parking lot of a church in Cleveland when an adult male attempted to cross the parking lot. For unknown reasons, this individual started shouting profanities at one of the boys. The two were exchanging heated words when another one of the teenagers intervened in an effort to defuse the situation. The teen placed himself between the two, however when he tried to walk away, he was "round-house" kicked in the mouth by the man. After the assault, the man walked away leaving the church grounds. Several of the witnesses were able to give police a general description of the assailant. Williams matched the description given and was found by police eight blocks away from the church.
(¶ 3} In this appeal, Williams asserts two assignments of error. First, Williams challenges the sufficiency of the evidence presented to support a conviction for felonious assault. Williams argues that the evidence failed to identity him as the assailant. He further argues that the injury sustained by the victim did not rise to the degree of seriousness required under the statute. In his second assignment of error, Williams contends that the jury verdict was against the manifest weight of the evidence due to uncertainties in witness testimony at trial. We find no merit to these arguments.
(¶ 4} Evidence is sufficient to sustain a guilty verdict where, examining the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found that the prosecution proved the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Griffith, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 97366, 2012-Ohio-2628, ___3, citing State v. Yarbrough, 95 Ohio St.3d 227, 2002-Ohio-2126, 767 N.E.2d 216, ¶ 78.
(¶ 5} The state charged Williams with felonious assault under R.C. 2903.11(A)(1), which states in relevant part that "[n]o person shall knowingly * * * [c]ause serious physical harm to another * * *." The evidence presented was sufficient to show that Williams intentionally kicked the teen victim in the mouth causing him serious injury. At trial, one of the witnesses testified that while driving to the church for choir practice, she noticed a man acting disorderly and screaming profanities at a nearby house prior to the incident. She described this individual to the police, and at trial testified that Williams might be the same person she saw earlier. Additionally, officers arriving at the scene after the attack interviewed witnesses who described the suspect as a black male, approximately 35 years of age and wearing a red shirt with the letter "H" in white print on it. He was also described as wearing gray or black pants.
(¶ 6} The police drove around the neighborhood and saw two men walking who were wearing red shirts. The younger of the two appeared considerably younger than 35 and was wearing white pants. The other man was wearing dark colored pants, and his shirt had a white "H" on the front of it. Both men ran but the officers were able to capture the older man who was later identified as Williams.
(¶ 7} The victim, who testified to standing at one point approximately one to two feet away from the person who kicked him, identified Williams as his attacker. Williams was also identified by the victim's friend who first encountered the assailant in the parking lot. At trial, this witness described his level of certainty as "100 percent" with regard to the identity of Williams as the assailant.
(¶ 8} Additionally, we find that the victim's injuries were "serious" as required by R.C. 2903.11(A)(1). Serious physical harm is defined in R.C. 2901.01(A)(5). As applicable to this case, serious injury includes "[a]ny physical harm that involves * * * temporary, substantial incapacity * * * temporary, serious disfigurement * * * or that involves any degree of prolonged or intractable pain." R.C. 2901.01(A)(5)(c-e).
(¶ 9} The victim's mother testified at trial that as a result of being kicked in the mouth, her son's jaw was broken and had to be wired shut for two and a half months. During this time, he was medicated with morphine and oxycontin for pain management and placed on a liquid diet. The victim lost 15 to 16 teeth, which had to be replaced with dental ...