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State v. Larkins

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Jefferson

December 18, 2017


         Criminal Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Jefferson County, Ohio Case No. 15 CR 110

          For Plaintiff-Appellee: Atty. Jane M. Hanlin Prosecuting Attorney Atty. Frank J. Bruzzese Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jefferson County Justice Center

          For Defendant-Appellant: Atty. Aaron A. Richardson Blake, Bednar, Blake & Richardson

          Hon. Cheryl L. Waite Hon. Gene Donofrio Hon. Carol Ann Robb


          WAITE, J.

         {¶1} Appellant Frank Lee Larkins, Jr. appeals a June 1, 2016 Jefferson County Common Pleas Court decision finding him guilty of one count of rape. Appellant argues that the trial court erroneously denied his motion for a mistrial after a witness blurted out that he supposedly had intercourse with eight or nine other girls. For the reasons provided, Appellant's argument is without merit and the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

         Factual and Procedural History

         {¶2} At the time of the incident in question, Appellant was living with a woman whom he described as his girlfriend. Although the woman testified that they were not dating, she acknowledged that he did live with her and slept on a couch in the living room. (5/19/16 Trial Tr., p. 183.) On July 23, 2015, three other people stayed at this house. They included a twenty-year-old man and two young girls, including the victim. The victim was twelve-years-old at the time.

         {¶3} On that night, Appellant's companion woman went to her bedroom and fell asleep while Appellant and the three guests watched television in the living room. According to the victim, she woke up at some point during the night and found Appellant on top of her and engaging in intercourse with her. (Id. at p. 194.) Her pants and underwear had been pulled down around her ankles. She testified that she tried to scream but Appellant held a pillow over her face. She also testified that she tried to force him off of her but he forced her to lie back down. After he completed the rape, the victim testified that he went to another couch to sleep. She noticed a used condom on the table, but it was gone in the morning. (Id. at p. 197.)

         {¶4} At some point the next day, the victim informed Appellant's companion about the rape. (Id. at p. 199.) According to Appellant, the woman confronted him and threw him out of the house. The record shows that this woman testified she evicted Appellant before she was informed of the rape. Regardless, Appellant's friend picked him up and allowed him to stay at his house. A few days later, this friend learned from his mother that the Toronto Police Department had issued a warrant for Appellant's arrest. The friend informed Appellant, who admitted that he might be in trouble because he "slept with this little girl." (Id. at p. 245.)

         {¶5} Appellant voluntarily reported to the police station. On his way to the station, he encountered a group of people with knowledge of the situation who allegedly threatened him. On arrival, he was told to come back later to speak with Sgt. Anthony Porreca. Appellant returned later in the day and spoke in an interview room with Sgt. Porreca and Captain Rick Parker. At first, Appellant denied the accusations. However, when told that there may be a difference in the charges if the encounter was consensual, Appellant admitted that he engaged in intercourse with the victim, but said that it was consensual. (Id. at p. 290.) Appellant admitted at least seven times during the videotaped interview that he had intercourse with the victim.

         {¶6} According to Appellant, the victim began flirting with him and then kissed and tickled him. (Id. at p. 302.) He claimed that the victim told him she wanted to have intercourse and he repeatedly asked her if she was sure, because he did not want to get in trouble. He admitted that he knew she was only eleven or twelve years old and that he kept the condom wrapper. (Id. at pp. 302-303.)

         {¶7} Appellant made several phone calls to his father while at the police station. Appellant's end of the conversation was recorded. His father told him not to speak with the officers and to get a lawyer, however, Appellant told him that he had already told police what had happened. (Id. at p. 297.) He also informed his father that he had intercourse with the victim and that she was underage.

         {¶8} On August 5, 2015, Appellant was indicted on one count of rape, a felony of the first degree in violation of R.C. 2907.02 (A)(1)(b), (B). At trial, Sgt. Parker, Officer Porreca, Appellant's friend, Appellant's female companion, the victim, and another young girl who was present at the time of the incident testified on behalf of the state. Appellant and his father testified on his behalf. Appellant's videotaped interview and an audio recording of his calls to his father were played for the jury and were admitted into evidence. Appellant acknowledged during his testimony that he confessed, but claimed that his confession was false. He said that he wanted to go to jail because he was afraid of the people who had confronted him and he would have been homeless because he did not have a place to stay.

         {¶9} On May 19, 2016, the jury found Appellant guilty of the sole charge of the indictment. A sentencing hearing was held on the same date and the trial court sentenced Appellant to life in prison without parole eligibility for ten years. ...

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