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State v. Clark

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Mahoning

June 2, 2017

STATE OF OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
MAURICE CLARK, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

         Criminal Appeal from Court of Common Pleas of Mahoning County, Ohio Case No. 2010 CR 354

          For Plaintiff-Appellee Paul Gains Prosecutor Ralph M. Rivera Assistant Prosecutor

          For Defendant-Appellant Francisco E. Luttecke Assistant State Public Defender

          JUDGES: Hon. Gene Donofrio Hon. Cheryl L. Waite Hon. Mary DeGenaro

          OPINION

          DONOFRIO, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant, Maurice Clark, appeals from a Mahoning County Common Pleas Court judgment convicting him of rape, following a jury trial.

         {¶2} Appellant and L.M. were co-workers who frequently carpooled to work, along with other co-workers, from Youngstown to their place of employment in Pennsylvania. They began carpooling in the summer of 2009.

         {¶3} According to L.M. over a short course of time, appellant began to text and call her asking how she was doing and inquiring if she was dating anyone. L.M. conveyed to appellant that she was not interested in dating him. But according to L.M., appellant persisted in asking her out and contacted her multiple times a day by phone and text. One time, when L.M. fell asleep in the car on the way to work, she awoke to appellant touching her leg. L.M. told appellant to stop and that she did not like him in that way.

         {¶4} Around the end of August 2009, L.M. decided to stop carpooling with appellant because she felt he was contacting her too much and interfering with her job. Soon thereafter, however, L.M. was injured at work and took a few days off. When she was able to return to work on September 13, 2009, L.M. rode with appellant because she was taking medication that affected her ability to drive.

         {¶5} After appellant dropped L.M. off at home that night after 10:00 p.m., he began texting and calling her. At first, L.M. did not respond. L.M. needed to pick up another prescription medication that night, so she left her house to go to Walgreen's. But first she called appellant back to see what he wanted. L.M. stated that appellant was crying and told her he was depressed and needed to talk to her. So L.M. went to appellant's house, which he shared with his mother and daughter.

         {¶6} When she arrived, close to midnight, appellant met her in the driveway and got into the passenger side of her vehicle. L.M. stated that appellant kept telling her how he needed to talk to her, but then he touched her breast. L.M. pushed his hand away and told him not to touch her. Appellant then asked L.M. to come into the house to talk. L.M. stated she would not go into the house. But she stated that appellant grabbed her arm and they walked into the garage, which was attached to the house. L.M. did not enter the house. Appellant, however, went inside briefly while LM. waited in the garage.

         {¶7} L.M. stated that while she was standing in the garage, the lights went out inside the house. Then appellant came back out of the house and into the garage where he turned off the garage lights and locked the door. According to L.M., appellant pushed her up against the wall and began grabbing and touching her. He then threw her to the ground and removed her clothing. L.M. stated appellant pinned her down and raped her. She stated that she was crying and yelling at him to stop. She also tried to kick and punch him. L.M. stated that she heard a noise in the house. She stated appellant then finished assaulting her. She was then able to grab her clothes and run out of the garage.

         {¶8} L.M. stated she got into her vehicle and appellant got in the passenger side. She told him to get out, which he did, but not before asking her if she was going to call the police. L.M. left appellant's house and drove to Walgreen's to pick up her prescription. L.M. then drove herself to the hospital where she reported that she had been raped.

         {¶9} Appellant denied raping L.M. He admitted the two had sexual intercourse in his garage on the night in question but insisted it was consensual sex.

         {¶10} A Mahoning County Grand Jury indicted appellant on two counts of rape, first-degree felonies in violation of R.C. 2907.02(A)(2)(B), and one count of kidnapping, a first-degree felony in violation of R.C. 2905.01(A)(4)(C).

         {¶11} The matter proceeded to a jury trial. The jury found appellant guilty of one count of rape. It found him not guilty of the other rape count and of kidnapping.

         {¶12} The trial court subsequently held a sentencing hearing. The court sentenced appellant to ten years in prison. The court also designated appellant as a Tier III sex offender.

         {¶13} Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal on May 15, 2015. He now raises five assignments of error.

         {¶14} Appellant's first assignment of error states:

         MR. CLARK WAS DEPRIVED OF HIS RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS, A FAIR TRIAL, AND TO PRESENT A DEFENSE TO THE STATE'S ACCUSATIONS WHEN THE TRIAL COURT EXCLUDED PORTIONS OF A DEFENSE WITNESS'S TESTIMONY.

         {¶15} Appellant contends the trial court erred in excluding part of defense witness Eugene Tensley's testimony. He contends the rape shield law allows testimony regarding a past sexual relationship between him and L.M. Appellant claims Tensley's testimony would have directly refuted the state's position that the relationship between appellant and L.M. was that of appellant constantly pursuing L.M. and L.M. constantly rejecting him. Appellant contends that the excluded testimony supported the possibility that there was a mutual relationship where consent was possible.

         {¶16} A trial court has broad discretion in determining whether to admit or exclude evidence. State v. Mays, 108 Ohio App.3d 598, 617, 671 N.E.2d 553 (8th Dist.1996). Abuse of discretion connotes more than an error of law or judgment; it implies that the trial court's attitude is unreasonable, ...


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