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State v. Hill

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

June 22, 2017

STATE OF OHIO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
JOE L. HILL, III DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

         Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-15-594814-A

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Ruth R. Fischbein-Cohen

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor BY: Daniel A. Cleary Assistant Prosecuting Attorney

          BEFORE: Celebrezze, J., Boyle, P.J., and Laster Mays, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          FRANK D. CELEBREZZE, JR., J.

         {¶1} Appellant, Joe L. Hill, III, appeals his burglary conviction, claiming the verdict is against the manifest weight of the evidence and unsupported by sufficient evidence. After a thorough review of the record and law, this court affirms.

         I. Factual and Procedural History

         {¶2} On April 6, 2015, Cleveland police officers arrived at an apartment complex on Prospect Avenue responding to a 911 call reporting that a person was raped. Officers went to an apartment on the eighth floor and interviewed two women, one visibly upset. O.R., through sobs, told officers that she had been raped and that her attacker may still be in her apartment on the sixth floor. Officers responded to that apartment and found appellant naked, asleep on the couch. Appellant was arrested and charged with two counts of rape, one count of kidnapping, and one count of aggravated burglary.

         {¶3} At trial, the following testimony was adduced. Appellant arrived at the apartment building in question with a friend to hang out with some people he did not know. He was kicked out of that apartment when he behaved inappropriately after becoming intoxicated. Around that time, O.R. was in a friend's apartment having dinner and decided to go back to her apartment to get some juice. She pressed the button to call the elevator to go up the two floors to her apartment. When the doors opened, she discovered appellant slumped on the floor. She tried to help him up as the elevator ascended. When it arrived at her floor, she exited and walked the five or so steps to her apartment. As she opened the door, she was pushed from behind into her apartment by appellant. O.R. testified that she was vaginally raped by appellant. During the course of the rape, appellant passed out and O.R. dressed, fled the apartment, and went to a friend's apartment. Her friend called police after O.R. told her what happened. Appellant was found by police, naked, and passed out on the couch in O.R.'s apartment.

         {¶4} Anthony Jones testified that sometime after that day he was outside a building on Prospect Avenue attempting to strike up conversations with individuals to spread the "word of God" when he noticed a girl, O.R., on her cell phone crying. He approached her and asked her what was wrong. After some back and forth, he testified she told him that she had done something wrong, that she had made up a story of rape, and someone was being prosecuted as a result. Jones couldn't believe it at first, but tried to look up information to see if any recently filed cases fit the story relayed by the person he met on the street. He found appellant and visited him in jail. Although he did not tell appellant about his conversation with O.R., he told appellant that he was sent by God to help him. Jones then helped appellant's family look for other witnesses, but did not go to the police or tell anyone of the conversation with O.R. until several months later.

         {¶5} At the close of trial, the court found appellant not guilty of the rape and kidnapping charges, but guilty of the offense of burglary, a violation of R.C. 2911.12(B), and a felony of the fourth degree. The court proceeded immediately to sentencing, where it imposed a 15-month prison sentence, informed appellant of postrelease control, and waived fines and costs.

         {¶6} Appellant then filed the instant appeal assigning one error for review:

I. The within verdict was not supported by the manifest weight of the evidence, and it was based on insufficient evidence.

         II. ...


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