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State v. Cantrall

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

August 31, 2017


         Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-15-597957-A

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Christopher M. Kelley.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor BY: Lon'Cherie' Billingsley Assistant County Prosecutor.

          BEFORE: Boyle, J., Keough, A.J., and Stewart, J.


          MARY J. BOYLE, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant, Matthew Cantrall, appeals his convictions. He raises one assignment of error for our review:

The trial court erred in finding that the appellant failed to establish the affirmative defense of not guilty by reason of insanity.

         {¶2} Finding no merit to his appeal, we affirm.

         I. Procedural History and Facts

         {¶3} In August 2015, Cantrall was indicted on four counts: two counts of fifth-degree felony vandalism in violation of R.C. 2909.05(A) and 2909.05(B)(1)(b), one count of fourth-degree felony vandalism in violation of R.C. 2909.05(B)(1)(a), with a furthermore specification that the value of property damaged was between $7, 000 and $150, 000, and one count of obstructing official business in violation of R.C. 2921.31(A), a misdemeanor of the second degree.

         {¶4} On September 16, 2015, Cantrall requested a referral to the court's psychiatric clinic to be evaluated for competency to stand trial and insanity at the time of the act. He was evaluated by Dr. Ludna Grewal. Dr. Grewal found that Cantrall was competent to stand trial and sane at the time of the act.

         {¶5} Cantrall later requested an independent psychological evaluation. He was evaluated by Dr. John Fabian in early December 2015. Dr. Fabian found that Cantrall did not know the wrongfulness of his acts because he suffered from a severe mental disease at the time of the act.

         {¶6} Cantrall waived his right to a jury trial, and the case proceeded to the bench, where the following facts were presented.

         {¶7} In July 2015, Cantrall lived in a house that he rented from Ralph Saker. Saker lived next door to Cantrall. Cantrall had rented from Saker since January 2014, without any problems. But in July 2015, Saker testified that Cantrall began spray painting the outside of the house that he rented from Saker. Saker said that Cantrall painted "Satan and Jihad, 666, Satan, devil" on the front, back, and both sides of the house. Saker told Cantrall to stop spray painting the house, but Cantrall refused.

         {¶8} Saker identified photos that were taken of his rental property that showed where Cantrall spray painted it. Saker said that Cantrall further damaged bushes and trees at the home, and placed strange signs in the yard that did not make sense, including "you see what happens when you mess with * * * warriors" and "nursing home fema camp curse." Cantrall painted "wishing you into cartoonland, 666, satan" on the garage. Cantrall also hung dolls with no heads from a tree. Saker further testified that Cantrall damaged things inside the home as well. Saker said that at one time, Cantrall thought he owned the home that he was renting from Saker. Saker called the police several times regarding these incidents.

         {¶9} On cross-examination, Saker stated that Mobile Crisis came to Cantrall's home a few times, including on July 10 and July 12, 2015, and that Cantrall was removed by the health squad on July 13. Saker agreed that he called Cantrall's mother on July 10, 2015, and told her that he was concerned about Cantrall's health and safety. Saker agreed that Cantrall was "taken away" by Mobile Crisis or the "help squad" several times, including on July 24, 2015, when Saker told him to quit spray painting the home. Cantrall was removed by police on July 28. Saker also agreed that Cantrall would see the police and run back into the house.

         {¶10} Police responded to Cantrall's home several times in July 2015. One time, police received calls that Cantrall was threatening his neighbors with a knife. When police arrived, Cantrall ran into his home. Police tricked him by acting like they left, and Cantrall came out of his house. Police took custody of him, and took him to the hospital for a mental health evaluation.

         {¶11} On July 28, 2015, someone called police again because Cantrall was threatening neighbors with a knife. When police arrived, Cantrall ran into his house and would not come out. Cantrall told police, "I plead the Fifth." Police were trying to remove Cantrall from his home so that they could take him to the hospital. The SWAT team eventually removed Cantrall from his rental home.

         {¶12} At the close of the state's case, Cantrall moved for a Crim.R. 29(A) acquittal, which the trial court granted as to the fourth-degree vandalism charge under R.C. 2909.05(B)(1)(b) (damaged property was necessary for the owner or possessor of the property to engage in the owner's or possessor's profession, business, trade, or occupation). The trial court denied it as to the remaining counts: two fifth-degree vandalism charges and obstructing official business.

         {¶13} Dr. John Fabian testified on behalf of Cantrall. He explained that he examined Cantrall and interviewed him "for quite some time" about his background, including his mental health history, psychiatric symptoms, criminal history, and the nature of the current criminal case.

         {¶14} Dr. Fabian also administered psychological tests, including the adult autism/Asperger's assessment, and a Personality Assessment Inventory to assess Cantrall's mental health issues.

         {¶15} Dr. Fabian found that Cantrall did "endorse substantial symptoms related to an autism spectrum disorder." Dr. Fabian explained that people on the autism spectrum have issues with communication, language skills, emotional reciprocity, and obsessive behaviors. Dr. Fabian stated that it was "important" to know this finding because autism is known to be a precursor to schizophrenia, which he stated there is "no question [Cantrall] has that condition."

         {¶16} As for the results of the Personality Assessment Inventory, Dr. Fabian testified that "there was evidence of exaggeration." He explained that "exaggeration" did not mean that Cantrall was "malingering, " but that he was "cry[ing] for help." Dr. Fabian stated that the "bottom line" was that Cantrall was "mentally ill but he's exaggerating some of [it]." Dr. Fabian testified that overall, there was evidence of Cantrall's paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, abnormal thinking, disorganized thinking, depression, and problems with concentration, sadness, and hopelessness. There was also evidence that Cantrall experienced anxiety, depression, impulsivity, and distrust.

         {¶17} Dr. Fabian diagnosed Cantrall with being on the "autism spectrum and now schizophrenia, " as well as "multi-schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type." Dr. Fabian explained that in making his assessment, he relied on Cantrall's medical records from St. Vincent Hospital around the time of the offense, which he found to be "germane" to understanding Cantrall's mental state at the time of the offense.

         {¶18} Dr. Fabian testified that on July 14 and 24, 2015, Cantrall was hospitalized for psychiatric reasons at St. Vincent Hospital. He stated that these records show that Cantrall had symptoms of psychosis on those dates. Cantrall was also having grandiose and delusional thoughts on those dates. Around this time, Cantrall was spray painting the house that he rented from Saker with demonic symbols. He was also psychotic, manic, delusional, and overall disorganized in his thinking. Cantrall reported that he was practicing witchcraft and was a magician. Dr. Fabian stated that these hospital records show that Cantrall's actions were consistent with a manic psychotic episode.

         {¶19} Dr. Fabian explained what schizoaffective disorder meant. He said that the "schizo" represents schizophrenia, which means that the person experiences loss of contact with reality, hearing voices, and having delusions. He said the "affective" part was secondary, and explained "that would be the bipolar mania." Dr. Fabian stated that ...

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