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Carroll v. Warden, Chillicothe Correctional Institution

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio

February 20, 2018


          JAMES L. GRAHAM, Judge


          Norah McCann King United States Magistrate Judge

         Petitioner, a state prisoner, brings this action for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. This matter is before the Court on the Petition (Doc. 3), Respondent's Return of Writ (Doc. 5), and the exhibits of the parties. For the reasons that follow, the Magistrate Judge RECOMMENDS that this action be DISMISSED.

         Facts and Procedural History

          The Ohio Tenth District Court of Appeals summarized the facts and procedural history of the case as follows:

Separate attacks on two women in the Franklinton area, occurring approximately ten days apart in April 2013, resulted in appellant's indictment for multiple counts of rape, kidnapping, and associated specifications in two cases.[FN1] In the first case, involving victim J.L., appellant was indicted for one count of kidnapping, in violation of R.C. 2905.01 with a sexual motivation specification under R.C. 2941.147, one count of rape under R.C. 2907 .02 under an allegation of vaginal intercourse, and one count of rape under R.C. 2907.02 under an allegation of fellatio. In the second case, involving victim J.C., appellant was indicted for one count of kidnapping, in violation of R.C. 2905.01 with a sexual motivation specification under R.C. 2941.147, one count of rape under R.C. 2907.02 under an allegation of vaginal intercourse, one count of rape under R.C. 2907.02 under an allegation of fellatio, and one count of rape under R.C. 2907.02 under an allegation of anal intercourse. All counts included a sexually violent predator specification pursuant to R.C. 2941.148. Appellant pled not guilty to all charges. The cases were consolidated, and all counts were tried to a jury from March 2 through 6, 2015 with the exception of the sexually violent predator specifications, which appellant elected to have tried to the court. Appellee, State of Ohio, produced the following relevant evidence in its case-in-chief.
FN1: The indictments also included counts that the state ultimately did not prosecute.
J.L. testified that appellant raped her in the early morning hours on April 8, 2013. At that time, J.L. was addicted to heroin and crack, and after an evening of taking drugs in the Franklinton area, left a drug dealer's house at approximately 4:30 a .m. to find more drugs. J.L. walked alone for a few blocks, making her way to Princeton Avenue near West Broad Street. There, appellant, driving a dark blue Cavalier with tinted windows, asked J .L. to get in his car. She replied no, and appellant continued to drive. J.L. was in an alley between South Princeton Avenue and Dana Avenue when appellant returned, pulling his car beside her so that she was a few feet from his passenger door. According to J.L., appellant exited his car, approached her from behind, put his arms around her, and forced her into the passenger seat of his car while wielding a box cutter with its blade exposed. Once in the car, appellant put his arm over her chest and grabbed her seatbelt in a way so that she could not move. J.L. was scared and thought he was going to kill her. Appellant drove north along Princeton Avenue until it terminated, made a right at railroad tracks, and parked outside of an abandoned house on Chicago Avenue.
J.L. testified that appellant reached over and put her seat all the way back, pulled her skirt up and underwear down, climbed on top of her with the box cutter, and choked her. With one of his knees in her stomach, J.L. testified appellant forced her to perform oral sex on him. Appellant then flipped her over and put his elbows in her back. Believing she would be raped, J.L. said “please at least use a condom, ” and she heard a sound like a wrapper, although she did not see or feel a condom. (Tr. 78.) J.L. confirmed that appellant's penis did slightly enter or penetrate her vagina without her consent but said that appellant could not maintain an erection, so he flipped her over and made her perform oral sex again until he ejaculated. J.L. testified that she could not move throughout the incident due to his body weight and that she feared for her life.
Appellant then pulled her skirt all the way down and her shirt up and threw her out of the car, which, in retrospect, J.L. believed to be an intentional strategy to distract her from observing his license plate. J.L. immediately called 911, the recording of which appellee played for the jury. J.L. identified her own voice as telling the operator that a guy she did not know physically grabbed her and dragged her into his car, put a box cutter to her throat, and raped her. The police arrived within minutes of her 911 call and took her to a nearby hospital, where medical staff conducted an examination and “rape kit” hours later. (Tr. 95.) J.L. stayed for the examination even though she was starting to feel withdrawal effects of not using drugs. She also confirmed that she told police she spit semen on the sidewalk but said it was raining, and they never found it. The following day, J.L. noticed bruising on her shoulders, neck, and back.
J.L. testified that she had been convicted three times for theft, which she said supported her former drug habit, and had been to jail. J.L. also confirmed that she initially lied to the nurse and police about why she was walking on the streets so early in the morning, telling them that she was going to get coffee rather than drugs, so she would not be judged or treated differently. According to J.L., she had been clean for nearly two years prior to testifying and currently held a job as a waitress while also caring for her baby.
Courtney Smigle, a nurse at the hospital where J.L. was admitted, testified that she participated in J.L.'s treatment, including determining her assault history, conducting a preliminary physical exam, and being present while a doctor performed her pelvic examination. According to Smigle, J.L. cried while describing the assault, which Smigle indicated on her assault history report as involving penetration of J.L.'s vagina by a stranger's penis and fingers and oral sex. The physical examination indicated points of tenderness on her neck, shoulders and chin, no injuries or pain on the sides of her body or mouth, and no bruising. Smigle testified that bruising, which is not visible quickly after an injury but develops over hours or days after the injury, is consistent with her experience and the assault history described by J.L.
Two forensic scientists at the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation testified to conducting tests of J.L.'s rape kit. Malorie Kulp testified to testing the swabs in J.L.'s rape kit for the presence of semen. Kulp found no presence of semen on J.L.'s vaginal or anal swabs, but did find the presence of seminal fluid on her oral swabs. Katherine Hall testified to analyzing the presence of DNA in J.L.'s rape kit. Hall found DNA profiles consistent with appellant in the oral swab and J.L.'s underwear and the presence of male DNA in the anal swab which could not be attributed to a certain person.
Tim Hedrick, a detective with the sexual assault unit of the Columbus police department, testified that he was the primary detective for the J.L case. Hedrick conducted an initial interview with J.L. at the hospital where he observed her appearing emotionally upset. Within an hour of the interview, he searched the location where J.L. stated she spit semen but did not find anything, which, based on his experience, did not surprise him. Hedrick did not find anything of evidentiary value collected from a search of appellant's apartment and described appellant as cooperative during an initial interview.
The second alleged victim, J.C., testified that appellant raped her in the early morning hours on April 18, 2013. After a night of using cocaine and heroin, the lat[t]er of which she was addicted to at the time, J.C. left a friend's house on South Central Avenue, a few blocks south of West Broad Street in Franklinton, between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m. She headed on foot to her brother's house on Chicago Avenue, approximately six blocks away to the north, in order to get a ride to a doctor's appointment. Right after she crossed Broad Street, a man, who[m] she identified as appellant, pulled up in a dark blue car and asked her if she needed a ride. She replied yes, got in the passenger seat of the car, and the two negotiated oral sex for $20. Appellant drove to the northern end of Wisconsin Avenue, near the railroad tracks.
J.C. engaged appellant in oral sex but discontinued and said she was done when appellant failed to maintain an erection. According to J.C., appellant grabbed her neck and put her head back in his lap and threatened to kill her if she hurt him. Thinking she had no choice, J.C. resumed giving appellant oral sex, but after about 20 seconds, she realized “it was about to get all bad” and made an attempt to get to the car door. (Tr. 381.) As soon as she moved, appellant started “hammering” her with a closed fist. (Tr. 381.) J.C. threw up her arms and tried to swing back. Appellant “wrestled” his way on top of her in a straddle position and leaned the passenger chair back while beating her head and grabbing her throat. (Tr. 383.) After placing his mouth on her breast, appellant flipped J.C. over and took her pants down. What J.C. thought to be appellant's finger penetrated her anus, and she felt fondling around her vagina, but could not recall if his fingers or penis penetrated her vagina. J.C. was able to retrieve a knife in her coat pocket, stabbed backward toward appellant, and thought she struck him. The two fought over the knife, in the midst of which J.C. was able to unlock and open the car door. J.C. fell backwards out of the car onto the concrete with her pants still down. J.C. started to crawl, and appellant drove off with J.C.'s purse still inside the car. She made it to her brother's house but does not remember how.
J.C. testified that only the initial oral sex was negotiated for money and that she never consented to oral sex the second time or any other type of sex. According to J.C., she pled for her life during the incident, and appellant was “violent, very angry” and told her he was going to kill her. (Tr. 411.) J.C. confirmed that she was currently on probation for a felony of improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle.
D.C., J.C.'s brother, testified that around 5:00 a.m. on the morning of April 18, 2013, he discovered his sister sitting on his porch, looking like a “wreck” and repeatedly saying “[h]e tried to kill me.” (Tr. 422.) Someone in the house called 911, the police quickly responded, and an ambulance took J.C. a nearby hospital.
Leslie Huber, a “SANE” nurse at the hospital specializing in treating sexual assault patients, testified to assessing J.C. at the hospital. (Tr. 243.) According to Huber, J.C. was cooperative but cried a lot and was disengaged. J.C.'s face was swollen and bruised around her eyes, cheeks, mouth, and forehead, and a CAT scan revealed she had a broken nose. Bruising called “petechiae, ” or bursting of blood vessels, appeared behind one ear, which Huber said was most often associated with a strangulation injury. (Tr. 286.) Bruising showed on her left arm, red and tender areas appeared on her shoulders and right breast, and abrasions presented on one hip, an arm, and her knees. Huber additionally documented redness on her buttock area which she agreed was caused by something abrasive, possibly concrete or pavement. Scratches marked J.C.'s face and neck. J.C. declined a pelvic examination and vaginal swab, which Huber testified was not uncommon for patients who experienced sexual assaults, but did allow an oral and anal swab to be taken for the rape kit.
Huber testified that J.C. told her that she had been physically and sexually assaulted in the passenger seat of a car by a stranger who punched her repeatedly in the face, choked her, put his mouth on her breast, put his penis in her mouth, flipped her over and held her down, and penetrated her vagina and anus with his fingers, which Huber testified to specifically seeking follow-up clarification on. Huber further testified that J.C. indicated that she fell out of the car onto concrete. Huber documented J.C.'s statement in her “Assault History” report. (State's Exhibit N, 1.) According to Huber, it would “[a]bsolutely not” be unordinary for a victim of a sexual assault, particularly in a facedown position, to think she was assaulted with fingers, when later DNA results reveal the presence of semen. (Tr. 318.)
Two forensic scientists at the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation testified to conducting tests of J.C.'s rape kit and swabs taken by police. Peter Tassi testified to finding trace amounts of semen on J.C.'s anal swab but did not find the presence of semen or seminal fluid on her oral swabs. No vaginal samples were present in the kit to examine. Steven Wiechman testified that insufficient data was available from the anal sample to be able to make a suitable DNA comparison to appellant but that the DNA profile from the right breast skin swab was consistent with appellant.
David Pelphrey, a sergeant in the special victims unit of the Columbus police department, testified to collecting DNA off of J.C. at the hospital and collaborating with detectives on J.C .'s case. Regarding development of the case, Pelphrey said that detectives working the J.C. and J.L. cases saw a pattern in the cases and were able to develop appellant as the suspect in both.
Mark Henson, a detective for the crime scene investigation unit of the Columbus police department, testified to executing search warrants for appellant's car and apartment. Within appellant's car, Henson testified to observing three knives in the storage pocket on the driver's side door panel, including a yellow box cutter and a black handled box cutter with its blade extended. Henson additionally observed a brown paper bag in the lidded console containing nine condoms and lubricant, a knife puncture or cut in the driver's seat, and several earrings. No DNA swabbings or fingerprint examinations were conducted on the car.
The state then admitted numerous exhibits, including 911 calls, maps, rape kit and forensic evidence and reports, physical evidence such as the box cutters, knife, and bag of condoms, and photographs depicting J.C. and J.L. at the hospital, appellant's car, and the condom bag. The photographs of appellant's car show it to be a four-door sedan with tinted windows, and the photograph of the brown paper bag depict[ing] a white label on its side stating “12 Condoms, 2 Lubricants.” (State's Exhibit AA20, 1.) The state rested its case-in-chief. Appellant moved for a judgment of acquittal under Crim.R. 29, which the court overruled. Appellant then testified on his own behalf.
Appellant testified that he did not kidnap or rape J .L. or J.C. and that sexual contact with them was a consensual, paid transaction. In April 2013, appellant worked as a maintenance person in a fast food restaurant in Franklinton, which required him to use box cutters everyday. He worked the 4:00 a.m. to noon shift but often arrived to work late. Although he no longer lived in Franklinton, he was familiar with the area from having previously lived there for 14 or 15 years.
Regarding the morning of April 8, 2013, appellant testified that he exited onto West Broad Street on his way to work for the purpose of soliciting sex. He saw a woman who he identified in court as J.L. standing on a corner with a black male and thought she was “working.” (Tr. 564.) He turned on to Dana Avenue and then made his way to Princeton Avenue near Broad Street. According to appellant, he asked J.L. if she was working, and she got into his car. They negotiated oral sex for $20, and appellant stopped at a nearby bank to withdraw approximately $50 from the ATM. J.L. indicated for appellant to drive to North Princeton Avenue, and on the way, J.L. made a comment about the black box cutter clipped to his hip. Once in the location picked by J.L., appellant gave J.L. $20, and J.L. performed oral sex but complained that he was taking too long. Appellant promised her an additional $20 for her to continue. After he ejaculated, he gave her a napkin to spit in, told her he would not pay her the additional money, and asked her to exit the car. She refused, so he leaned across her, opened her door, and “slightly” pushed her out. (Tr. 582.) Appellant described her demeanor as “highly upset.” (Tr. 582.) Appellant then continued on to work.
Appellant testified that he never forced J.L. into his car, never forced her to perform oral sex, never climbed on top of her or held her against her will, and never forced her to have sex. Appellant described his 2002 Chevy Cavalier as a “compact, small” car with the lever to recline the passenger seat located near the bottom of the passenger seat on the floor and additionally noted that, at the time, he weighed 234 pounds. (Tr. 582.)
Regarding the morning of April 18, 2013, appellant testified that on the way to work he stopped at a gas station on West Broad Street, where J.C. solicited him for sex and got into his car. Appellant gave her $20 to pay for oral sex, and J.C. indicated to drive to an alley near Wisconsin Avenue. Once there, J.C. allowed him to kiss her breast and began to perform oral sex on appellant before jumping up and attempting to open the door, in what appellant thought to be an attempt to rob him of his payment for oral sex. Appellant caught her by her hair and held her while asking for the $20 back. J.C. instead drew a knife and stabbed at him, hitting his seat. He fought her, hitting her repeatedly, while telling her to drop the knife. Once he struck her face, she let go of the knife. Appellant took the $20 out of her pocket, pushed her out of the car, and drove to work. Once there, he noticed J.C.'s purse and her knife were still in his car. He put the purse in the trash compactor at work and put her knife in his console. Later on, while working, he retrieved the purse from the compactor and looked at her phone and wallet, learning her name. Appellant did not call the police about the incident.
Appellant admitted he assaulted J.C. but said he did so in a split second decision to avoid her knife. Appellant testified that he did not force her head down a second time to perform oral sex, never said that he would kill her, never got on top of her, which he said there was not enough room in his compact car to do, and never forced his fingers into her or had intercourse with her. Appellant testified that when detained by police on May 10, 2013, he answered all their questions without a lawyer present because he had nothing to hide.
On cross-examination, appellant confirmed that he solicited prostitutes approximately twice a week for the six months prior to the April 2013 incidents and that, when detained for the May 2013 interview, police told him multiple girls implicated him. When police provided him with photographs of three of those girls, he recognized and discussed J.C. and a third woman but did not recognize J.L. Appellant testified that he had not had vaginal sex with prostitutes for several years prior to the two incidents and explained that he picked up the bag of condoms and lubricant from the health department, along with some brochures, to make sure that his 14-year-old son would practice safe sex now that he was in high school. Appellant additionally insisted that he did not touch J.L.'s underwear, even though his DNA was found there, and that J.C.'s “pants never even came down in the car.” (Tr. 604.) Regarding his box cutter, appellant denied that he had placed it into the door console in an open position, as the search photographs indicated. Appellant confirmed that he was five feet, eight inches tall and that his license stated he was 201 pounds.
Each party then rested its case. After deliberations, the jury found appellant guilty of two counts of kidnapping, in violation of R.C. 2905.01 with a sexual motivation specification under R.C. 2941.147, and guilty of four out of the five counts of rape under R.C. 2907.02. The court additionally found appellant guilty of the sexual predator specification attached to each count.
A sentencing hearing was held on March 10, 2015, after which the judge sentenced appellant to mandatory prison terms of ten years to life for each of the six counts. The judge ran the kidnapping charges and one count of rape concurrently with each other and to all other sentences in the case, while running the sentences for the three remaining rape counts consecutively to each other, for a total sentence of 30 years to life. Appellant received 669 days of jail-time credit. Appellant filed a timely appeal.
Appellant raises the following three assignments of error for ...

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