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State v. Hughes

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

October 20, 2017

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
THOMAS C. HUGHES Defendant-Appellant

         Criminal Appeal from Common Pleas Court T.C. NO. 98-CR-1706

          HEATHER N. JANS, Atty. Reg. No. 0084470, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee

          THOMAS C. HUGHES, Inmate #364638, Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution, Defendant-Appellant


          FROELICH, J.

         {¶ 1} Thomas C. Hughes appeals from a judgment of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, which overruled his application for DNA testing.

         Factual and Procedural History

         {¶ 2} Hughes was convicted in 1998 of felonious assault, kidnapping, and three counts of rape, and was sentenced to an aggregate term of 48 years to life in prison. On direct appeal, we reversed the trial court's judgment and remanded for resentencing, because the court failed to make any findings of fact regarding the imposition of consecutive sentences; we rejected Hughes's arguments that there were other prejudicial errors in the trial court proceedings. State v. Hughes, 2d Dist. Montgomery No. 17482, 1999 WL 812345 (Sept. 17, 1999). In 1999, Hughes was resentenced to an aggregate term of 38 years to life, and he did not appeal. Nunc pro tunc termination entries were also filed on October 7, 2008, and April 29, 2015, and Hughes did not appeal from these judgments.

         {¶ 3} The evidence in the case, as set forth in our 1999 opinion, was as follows:

On May 14, 1998, at about 6:00 a.m., [the victim] was found unconscious and severely beaten in a lot located at York and Second Streets in Dayton. Police found her bra, panties and driver's license on a porch at 33 York Street. [The victim] was taken to Grandview Hospital where she was treated, and a rape examination was conducted. When she regained consciousness, [the victim] informed the police that the attack had not taken place at York Street, but occurred "off of North Main Street." After her release from the hospital two days later, [the victim] proceeded to search for the place of the attack. She then notified the police that she had been attacked at 46 Medina, the residence of Hughes.
Later, she identified Hughes from a photographic array as the perpetrator. She also described the interior of the residence. [The victim], an admitted prostitute, told the police that she came into contact with Hughes during the night of May 13 and accompanied him to his house in order to have sex. She stated that she needed to earn money to buy crack cocaine and that she had already had two "hits" of crack earlier in the evening. She also stated that when she asked Hughes for money he became violent and forced her to have vaginal, oral and anal intercourse. She also stated that she asked to go the bathroom, but instead went into the bedroom of one of his children to try to awaken someone. The bedroom was empty. [The victim] stated that Hughes then became violent and hit her, knocking her down the stairs and causing her to hit her head on the stairway wall. She stated that she had no memory of what happened after that until she woke up in the hospital.
A search warrant was secured for the premises. During the search, the police photographed stains that they believed to be blood in the bedroom and on the stairwell of the residence. The police also found a Minnie Mouse watch, which [the victim] claimed was hers. Hughes was arrested. After initially denying any contact with [the victim], Hughes told the police that he had picked her up on East Third Street and that he took her to his residence for sex. However, he claims that this occurred on May 12. According to Hughes, [the victim] was performing oral sex upon him when he caught her trying to steal his wallet. He claims that he slapped her, ended the "sex date, " and took her back to East Third Street. Id. at * 1-2.

         {¶ 4} Additionally, blood found on a comforter in Hughes's house "could not be directly linked to a specific person, " but a forensic scientist testified that it was of the same type as both Hughes and the victim. Id. at * 5. Some blood samples from the bedroom and stairwell were determined to be human, but the samples were too small to determine their blood type; tests on other blood and saliva samples were inconclusive, neither specifically excluding nor including Hughes. Id. at 7-8. Hughes presented alibi evidence that he had made two phone calls during the timeframe that the victim claimed to have been at his house. Hughes was convicted and sentenced as described above.

         {¶ 5} On October 20, 2016, Hughes filed an Application for DNA Testing pursuant to R.C. 2953.71 et seq. The State filed a memorandum contra on Friday, December 9, 2016, which set forth its substantive arguments. On Monday, December 12, the State filed a motion to extend its time for the filing of an inventory report pursuant to R.C. 2953.75 until January 13, 2017, and to postpone any decision on Hughes's application until the inventory report was submitted. On December 16, 2016, Hughes filed a "Notice of Intent to File a Reply" with the court, which stated that he intended to file a response to the State's memorandum contra, but that, due to limited access to the law library computers in prison, his reply would be filed by February 15, 2017.

         {¶ 6} The State filed its inventory on January 4, 2017, at which time Hughes had not yet filed his reply. The trial court denied Hughes's ...

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