FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF
SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. CR 2014 08 2465
M. KING, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.
BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and HEAVEN DIMARTINO,
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
A. TEODOSIO, Judge.
Defendant-Appellant, John Lewis, appeals from his convictions
in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas. This Court
Mr. Lewis and his former girlfriend, the victim in this
matter, began dating in 2007 and lived together at various
points in time. Mr. Lewis described their relationship in
positive terms and indicated that the two were still
communicating and working on their problems when the incident
giving rise to this appeal occurred. Meanwhile, the victim
testified that she had tried repeatedly to end their
relationship, but Mr. Lewis persistently called her, showed
up at her workplace, and came to her home. There is no
dispute that, on the evening of August 2, 2014, Mr. Lewis
came to the victim's house in his truck. By the end of
the evening, the victim was suffering from a dislocated knee,
a fractured tibia, and facial swelling while Mr. Lewis was
suffering from a broken pinkie finger.
According to Mr. Lewis, he picked up the victim on August 2nd
because they had plans to go to his house and watch a movie.
He testified that, after they arrived at his home, the victim
fell from his raised back porch and he fell attempting to
catch her. Mr. Lewis acknowledged that the victim injured her
leg during the fall, but claimed that she would not allow him
to call an ambulance because of the cost. It was his
testimony that they planned to go to the hospital after they
relaxed in his basement, but that he was later forced to call
911 because he could not carry the victim upstairs.
According to the victim, she and Mr. Lewis did not have plans
the evening of August 2nd, but he came to her house after
repeatedly calling her and her roommate's cell phones.
She testified that she went outside to speak with Mr. Lewis
and got into his truck because he claimed that he needed help
with something. She testified that she protested when Mr.
Lewis drove away, but that he continued to drive until he
brought her to his house. When she refused to exit his truck,
he repeatedly punched her and dragged her from the vehicle.
She testified that she injured her leg falling from his porch
in an attempt to escape from him. Although she immediately
experienced severe pain, Mr. Lewis took her cell phone,
brought her into his basement, and refused to call for help.
There is no dispute that Mr. Lewis did not call 911 until
5:01 a.m. the following morning.
A grand jury indicted Mr. Lewis on one count each of
kidnapping, felonious assault, abduction, menacing by
stalking, and domestic violence. The matter proceeded to
trial, and a jury found Mr. Lewis guilty on all counts. The
parties agreed that the offenses of kidnapping and abduction
were allied offenses of similar import, as were the offenses
of felonious assault and domestic violence. After the State
elected to proceed on the counts of kidnapping and felonious
assault, the trial court sentenced Mr. Lewis on those two
counts and his menacing by stalking count. The court
sentenced him to a total of 13 years in prison.
Mr. Lewis now appeals from his convictions and raises three
assignments of error for our review. For ease of analysis, we
rearrange several of the assignments of error.
OF ERROR ONE
In his first assignment of error, Mr. Lewis argues that the
trial court erred when it allowed the State to exercise a
peremptory challenge against Juror Number 10, an African
American male. We disagree.
"The Equal Protection Clause of the United States
Constitution prohibits deliberate discrimination based on
race by a prosecutor in his exercise of peremptory
challenges." State v. Campbell 9th Dist. Summit
No. 24668, 2010-Ohio-2573, ¶ 33, citing Batson v.
Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 89 (1986). "'A court
adjudicates a Batson claim in three
steps.'" State v. Were, 118 Ohio St.3d 448,
2008-Ohio-2762, ¶ 61, quoting State v. Murphy,
91 Ohio St.3d 516, 528 (2001).
In the first step, a defendant must make a prima facie
showing that the [S]tate has exercised a peremptory challenge
on the basis of race. Once the prima facie showing has been
made, the State must offer a basis for striking the
prospective juror that is race-neutral. Finally, the trial
court must consider the parties' positions to determine
whether the defendant has demonstrated purposeful
(Internal citations omitted.) State v. Jackson, 9th
Dist. Summit No. 27739, 2017-Ohio-278, ¶ 6. "This
Court reviews whether a party exercised its peremptory
challenges in a discriminatory manner under the clearly
erroneous standard." State v. Payne, 9th Dist.
Summit No. 26655, 2013-Ohio-5230, ¶ 19, citing
Hernandez v. New York, 500 U.S. 352, 364-365 (1991).
At the start of voir dire, the trial court asked the
prospective jurors whether any of them had ever been
convicted of a felony-level offense. Juror Number 10 then
responded that he had been convicted of a felony in 2013 or
2014. He later elaborated that he had been
convicted in the courtroom "right next-door here."
When the prosecutor expressed concern to the juror about his
ability to be fair and impartial, Juror Number 10 stated that
his case would not be an issue for him. He indicated that he
knew he "did wrong" in his case. He also agreed
that he was treated fairly by the police and prosecution in
When the trial court asked the State for its peremptory
challenges, the State asked to excuse Juror Number 10.
Defense counsel then objected on the basis of Batson
and asked the State to provide a race-neutral explanation.
The State indicated that it was excluding Juror Number 10
because he had been convicted fairly recently of a serious
felony in a nearby courtroom. The prosecutor stated:
"Although [Juror Number 10] said he felt he could be
fair, we felt that , the nature of the charges and the
proximity in time give us some concern about his ability to
be a fair juror." In response, defense counsel argued
that Juror Number 10 had conceded his guilt in his prior case
and had denied that it would ...