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State v. Helms

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Mahoning

May 31, 2017

STATE OF OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
RONNIE HELMS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

         Criminal Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Mahoning County, Ohio Case No. 11 CR 1019.

          For Plaintiff-Appellee Attorney Paul Gains Mahoning County Prosecutor Attorney Ralph Rivera Assistant Prosecutor

          For Defendant-Appellant Ronnie Helms, Pro-se Attorney Donna McCollum

          JUDGES: Hon. Mary DeGenaro Hon. Gene Donofrio Hon. Carol Ann Robb

          OPINION

          DeGENARO, J.

         {¶1} In this delayed appeal, Defendant-Appellant, Ronnie Helms, appeals the trial court's judgment convicting him of rape and kidnapping and sentencing him accordingly. Helms argues the trial court erred by failing to merge his convictions for those charges. For the following reasons, Helms' assignment of error is meritless and the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

         {¶2} In 2011, Helms was indicted by a grand jury on one count of rape, R.C. 2907.02(A)(2)(B), with an attached sexual predator specification, R.C. 2941.148; and one count of kidnapping, R.C. 2905.01(A)(4)(C), with an attached sexual motivation specification, R.C. 2941.147, both first degree felonies. As described in the bill of particulars, Helms drove the victim home, stopped the car by her home and made sexual advances which were rejected. Helms then locked the doors and instructed the victim that she was not getting out of the car. Helms then drove her to a different location, where he held her down while she struggled and raped her.

         {¶3} Helms was arraigned, pled not guilty and counsel was appointed. Helms subsequently entered into a Crim.R. 11 plea agreement, whereby the State agreed to dismiss the two specifications, and Helms agreed to plead guilty to rape and kidnapping. The parties agreed to a jointly-recommended sentence of 13 years.

         {¶4} Following a plea hearing in September 2012, Helms pled guilty to the two charges and the State dismissed the specifications. The matter proceeded immediately to sentencing, where the trial court dismissed the specification and imposed the jointly-recommended 13-year sentence: 10 years on the rape count, and 3 years on the kidnapping count, to be served consecutively, along with a five-year term of mandatory post-release control. Helms stipulated to his classification as a Tier-III sex offender. Helms failed to argue at sentencing that the rape and kidnapping convictions should merge, and failed to file a direct appeal within the 30-day time-frame provided in App.R. 4(A).

         {¶5} In 2014, Helms filed three pro-se motions: two to withdraw his guilty plea, and one asking the court to immediately release him due to an alleged speedy trial violation. These motions were overruled by the trial court.

         {¶6} Pertinent to this appeal, Helms timely appealed that judgment pro se, arguing for the first time that his rape and kidnapping convictions should have merged. This court rejected that argument for procedural reasons, noting that none of his post-sentence motions had argued merger; and that at that point he had failed to directly appeal his conviction and sentence where such an argument could have been properly raised. Thus, this court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. See State v. Helms, 7th Dist. No. 14 MA 96, 2015-Ohio-1708.

         {¶7} In July 2015, Helms filed several pro-se motions to hold a limited resentencing hearing regarding allied offenses, which the trial court denied.

         {¶8} Finally, Helms filed a motion for leave to file a delayed direct appeal from his initial sentencing entry of ...


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