Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-564462
Bruce M. Courey ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT
Timothy J. McGinty Cuyahoga County Prosecutor BY: Joseph J. Ricotta Assistant County Prosecutor ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE
BEFORE: Boyle, P.J., S. Gallagher, J., and E.T. Gallagher, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
MARY J. BOYLE, P.J.
(¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Robert Walcot, appeals his conviction, raising a single assignment of error:
The trial court erred in denying appellant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea prior to sentencing.
(¶ 2} Finding no merit to the appeal, we affirm.
Procedural History and Facts
(¶ 3} In July 2012, Walcot was charged in a 15-count indictment: five counts of rape, violations of R.C. 2907.02(A)(1)(b); four counts of gross sexual imposition, violations of R.C. 2907.05(A)(4); four counts of kidnapping, violations of R.C. 2905.01(A)(4); one count of importuning, a violation of R.C. 2907.07(A); and one count of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, a violation of R.C. 2907.31(A)(3). The rape and kidnapping counts all carried sexually violent predator specifications, notice of prior conviction, and repeat violent offender specifications. The gross sexual imposition counts carried a sexually violent predator specification. The date of the offenses covered a span of time from July 1, 2002, through July 31, 2005. The victims of the alleged rape, gross sexual imposition, and kidnapping offenses were two of Walcot's stepdaughters, both under the age of 13 at the time of the offenses.
(¶ 4} Walcot initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, and the matter proceeded to a jury trial on November 27, 2012, on the base charges. Walcot elected to have the specifications tried to the bench.
(¶ 5} Prior to the trial commencing, the prosecutor formally placed a plea deal on the record, indicating that the deal would remain open until the first witness was called. Defense counsel also addressed the court, indicating that he discussed the plea deal with Walcot and his family, informed him of the range of the sentence under the plea, and provided a recommendation. The trial court further addressed Walcot and indicated that he "would consider a range in the sentence of 8 to 15 years without any promises as to whether the three-year sentence [that Walcot's] doing now would be concurrent." At that time, Walcot still desired to go ahead with a trial.
(¶ 6} The court commenced the trial, and a jury was selected. Following opening statements, however, Walcot asked to take the plea deal offered by the prosecutor. After fully complying with Crim.R. 11 and advising Walcot of his statutory and constitutional rights, the trial court accepted Walcot's guilty plea to two amended counts of rape, violations of R.C. 2907.02(A)(2), without any specifications attached. The remainder of the counts were nolled.
(¶ 7} After accepting Walcot's plea, the trial court ordered a presentence investigation report on the record, at which time Walcot expressed his desire to withdraw his guilty plea that he had recently entered in the separate firearm case (Case No. CR-554876). Based on Walcot's statement, the trial judge asked Walcot whether he was "contemplating withdrawing" his plea in the rape case. Walcot stated: "No. No, I am not."
(¶ 8} On December 14, 2012, two weeks before the scheduled sentencing date, Walcot filed a pro se motion to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing that he was "not guilty of the allegations that [he] was arraigned on and coerced into pleading guilty." He indicated that the prosecutor, judge, and his own attorney were against him. He expressed his concern that his attorney shared confidential information with the prosecutor from the onset resulting in his re-indictment with additional counts and questioned the integrity of the judge.
(¶ 9} On December 28, 2012, the trial court held a hearing on Walcot's motion to withdraw his guilty plea. Walcot addressed the court, stating that he was "coerced" into entering the plea and under duress. He explained that his trial counsel told him that he would end up going to prison for life because he would lose at trial. Walcot further stated that his defense counsel used Walcot's mother to pressure him to take the plea too and that he did not have enough time to consider the plea. Walcot additionally reiterated the same arguments raised in his motion, i.e., questioning the integrity and competency of his attorney, contending that ...