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State v. Coleman

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Logan

April 30, 2018

STATE OF OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
ZACKARIAH J. COLEMAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

          Appeal from Logan County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No. CR16-10-0296

          Linda Gabriele for Appellant

          Alice Robinson-Bond for Appellee

          OPINION

          PRESTON, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant, Zackariah J. Coleman ("Coleman"), appeals the November 20, 2017 judgment entry of sentence of the Logan County Court of Common Pleas. We affirm.

         {¶2} This case stems from allegations that Coleman sexually abused S.E.-the daughter of his girlfriend with whom Coleman shared a home-between 2014 and 2015, while S.E. was less than thirteen years of age. On November 8, 2016, the Logan County Grand Jury indicted Coleman on three counts of gross sexual imposition in violation of R.C. 2907.05(A)(4), third-degree felonies. (Doc. No. 4). On November 16, 2016, Coleman appeared for arraignment and entered pleas of not guilty. (Doc. No. 10).

         {¶3} The case proceeded to a jury trial on September 26 and 27, 2017. (Sept. 26, 2017 Tr., Vol. I, at 1); (Sept. 27, 2017, Vol. II, at 156). On September 27, 2017, the jury found Coleman guilty of one count of gross sexual imposition. (Sept. 27, 2017 Tr., Vol. II, at 226-227); (Doc. No. 106). The jury could not reach a unanimous verdict as to the other two counts of the indictment. (Sept. 27, 2017 Tr., Vol. II, at 226-227); (Doc. No. 110). The trial court filed its judgment entry of conviction on October 2, 2017 finding Coleman guilty of one count of gross sexual imposition and dismissing the other two counts of the indictment. (Doc. No. 110).

         {¶4} The trial court held a sentencing and a sex-offender registration hearing on November 2, 2017. (Nov. 2, 2017 Tr. at 1); (Doc. No. 114). The trial court sentenced Coleman to five years of community control. (Id. at 8); (Id.). The trial court also classified Coleman as a Tier II sex offender. (Id. at 3); (Id.). The trial court filed its judgment entries of sentence and sex-offender classification on November 20, 2017. (Doc. No. 114).

         {¶5} Coleman filed a notice of appeal on November 28, 2017. (Doc. No. 118). He raises two assignments of error for our review, which we discuss together.

         Assignment of Error No. I

         The Verdict of the Trial Court was Not Supported by Sufficient Evidence as the State of Ohio Failed to Prove Each and Every Element of the Crime of Gross Sexual Imposition Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

         Assignment of Error No. II

         The Verdict of the Trial Court was Against the Manifest Weight of the Evidence as the State of Ohio Failed to Prove Each and Every Element of the Crime of Gross Sexual Imposition Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

         {¶6} In his assignments of error, Coleman argues that his gross-sexual-imposition conviction is based on insufficient evidence and is against the manifest weight of the evidence.

         {¶7} Manifest "weight of the evidence and sufficiency of the evidence are clearly different legal concepts." State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 389 (1997). As such, we address each legal concept individually.

         {¶8} "An appellate court's function when reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a criminal conviction is to examine the evidence admitted at trial to determine whether such evidence, if believed, would convince the average mind of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Jenks, 61 Ohio St.3d 259 (1981), paragraph two of the syllabus, superseded by state constitutional amendment on other grounds, State v. Smith, 80 Ohio St.3d 89 (1997). Accordingly, "[t]he relevant inquiry is whether, after viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt." Id. "In deciding if the evidence was sufficient, we neither resolve evidentiary conflicts nor assess the credibility of witnesses, as both are functions reserved for the trier of fact." State v. Jones, 1st Dist. Hamilton Nos. C-120570 and C-120571, 2013-Ohio-4775, ¶ 33, citing State v. Williams, 197 Ohio App.3d 505, 2011-Ohio-6267, ¶ 25 (1st Dist). See also State v. Berry, 3d Dist. Defiance No. 4-12-03, 2013-Ohio-2380, ¶ 19 ("Sufficiency of the evidence is a test of adequacy rather than credibility or weight of the evidence."), citing Thompkins at 386.

         {¶9} On the other hand, in determining whether a conviction is against the manifest weight of the evidence, a reviewing court must examine the entire record, "'weigh[ ] the evidence and all reasonable inferences, consider[ ] the credibility of witnesses and determine[ ] whether in resolving conflicts in the evidence, the [trier of fact] clearly lost its way and created such a manifest miscarriage of justice that the conviction must be reversed and a new trial ordered.'" Thompkins at 387, quoting State v. Martin, 20 Ohio App.3d 172, 175 (1st Dist.1983). A reviewing court must, however, allow the trier of fact appropriate discretion on matters relating to the weight of the evidence and the credibility of the witnesses. State v. DeHass, 10 Ohio St.2d 230, 231 (1967). When applying the manifest-weight standard, "[o]nly in exceptional cases, where the evidence 'weighs heavily against the conviction, ' should an appellate court overturn the trial court's judgment." State v. Haller, 3d Dist. Allen No. 1-11-34, 2012-Ohio-5233, ¶ 9, quoting State v. Hunter, 131 Ohio St.3d 67, 2011-Ohio-6524, ¶ 119.

         {¶10} R.C. 2907.05 sets forth the offense of gross sexual imposition and provides, in relevant part:

(A) No person shall have sexual contact with another, not the spouse of the offender; cause another, not the spouse of the offender, to have sexual contact with the offender; or cause two or more other persons to have ...

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