Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery
Criminal Appeal from Common Pleas Court Trial Court Case No.
MATHIAS H. HECK, JR., by ANDREW T. FRENCH, Atty. Reg. No.
0069384, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee
C. SCHLUETER, Atty. Reg. No. 0086701, Attorney for
1} Needom Bendolph was found guilty by a jury of two
counts of rape by force and one count of felonious assault;
he was sentenced to an aggregate prison term of 11 years, was
designated as a Tier III sex offender, and was ordered to pay
restitution. Bendolph appeals from his conviction, arguing
that his trial counsel was ineffective in presenting the
testimony of an expert witness without fully investigating
what the content of her testimony would be and appreciating
its impact on his defense.
2} For the following reasons, the judgment of the
trial court will be affirmed.
and Procedural History
3} On January 16, 2017, Bendolph was indicted on two
counts of rape (by force) and one count of felonious assault
(serious harm). The complainant was Bendolph's
girlfriend, L.G. Bendolph filed a motion to suppress
evidence, which was overruled. He did not waive his right to
a speedy trial. He was tried by a jury on March 20 and 21,
2017, and was found guilty of all of the offenses. The court
sentenced him as described above.
4} The State's evidence at trial was as follows:
5} On December 28, 2016, L.G. and Bendolph were out
in the evening with some friends; L.G. was the designated
driver, and she was driving someone else's car for most
of the evening. Her own car was at Bendolph's
mother's apartment, where the couple sometimes stayed.
Later in the evening, she and Bendolph were dropped off at
the apartment, got into her car, and went out a while longer.
When they returned to the apartment, L.G. was driving, and
Bendolph was in the passenger seat; L.G. was planning to drop
Bendolph off and go to her sister's for the night.
6} According to L.G., when she pulled into the
driveway alongside Bendolph's mother's apartment,
Bendolph suddenly grabbed her car keys and began hitting her
with his fists. She "call[ed] his name and he wasn't
responding to [her], " and she "was begging him to
stop." In the struggle, their positions became reversed,
such that Bendolph was on the driver's side of the car,
standing outside the door, and L.G. was half in and half out
of the driver's door, lying back on the passenger seat.
7} Bendolph pulled L.G.'s legs toward the
driver's side door and partially ripped her pants and
underwear. L.G. testified that he then put his hand inside
her vagina, removed it, smelled and licked his hand, and
said, "[B]***h, I know you been
f***ing." He then performed cunnilingus on L.G.,
spit "all over" her, "then took out his penis
and shoved it in [her]." L.G. testified that she was
telling him to stop, kicking, and fighting the entire time.
Bendolph was choking her, calling her names, and threatening
to kill her.
8} After a few minutes, L.G. managed to lean her
body up against the car's horn in an effort to draw
attention. Several neighbors came outside. When Bendolph
noticed that people were outside, he "drug" L.G.
out of the car, closing her coat because "her pants and
things was all exposed, " and led her to the door of his
mother's apartment by the back of her neck. After
Bendolph banged on the door and window for a few minutes, his
mother let them into her apartment, which was on the second
9} According to L.G., Bendolph led her up the
stairs, whispering in her ear threats to kill her and telling
her to be quiet, "but he was talking normal to his
mother about spending the night. Bendolph led L.G. into a
back bedroom, where she sat in a chair while Bendolph went to
talk with his mother in another room. Bendolph's mother
also came into the bedroom and talked with L.G. "for a
minute." Bendolph then closed the bedroom door, pulled
L.G.'s hair, and threw her onto the bed. He "started
performing oral sex on [her] again at this time, "
"tore [her] underwear off completely, " put his
penis in L.G.'s mouth while threatening to kill her if
she bit him, and then put his penis in her vagina again.
Bendolph did not ejaculate.
10} L.G. testified that she and Bendolph "were
interrupted" by a knock at the front door.
Bendolph's mother answered the door, and Bendolph's
brother, Floyd, entered the apartment. Bendolph briefly left
the bedroom and talked with Floyd, who then followed him back
into the bedroom. After greeting L.G., Floyd began to
question her about what was wrong. Floyd learned that
Bendolph had hit L.G., and an altercation between the two men
ensued. L.G. saw an opportunity to get away and headed for
the apartment door, although Bendolph still had her car keys
11} Bendolph pulled L.G. back into the apartment by
her hair; she sat down "on the couch, in the living
room, still exposed." The two men then went down the
stairs and outside the apartment building. Bendolph returned,
"screaming and yelling, " threatening to kill Floyd
and to "get a gun." L.G. tried to calm Bendolph
down, but Bendolph said, "b***h, you're the reason,
" and slapped her so hard that she "fell off the
couch" and "[saw] stars." When she was on the
ground, Bendolph "started stomping and kicking [her] and
sitting on [her]." Bendolph's mother attempted to
intervene on L.G.'s behalf, telling Bendolph
"don't put your hands on that girl."
12} Bendolph again left the apartment. L.G. got back
on the couch and asked Bendolph's mother to call the
police. Bendolph's mother agreed and said that she was
calling the police and an ambulance. However, before any help
arrived, L.G. heard her car start outside the apartment. She
tried to run out to the car, but fell down the steps. When
she got outside, the "car [was] taking off, " but
she grabbed the handle and got in. She explained that her
"entire life was in that car. Everything [she] had
worked for, everything [she] owned. All of my music,
microphones - he had my money, he had my purse. My entire
life was pulling out of that driveway and my instinct was to
protect it, so I got in the car."
13} In the car, Bendolph was still
"ranting" about killing his brother; L.G. tried to
"appease" him and calm him down. Bendolph was
driving erratically. They stopped at a night club they had
visited earlier in the evening with their friends. Bendolph
ordered L.G. out of the car, but she was crying and said that
she could not get out because she "ha[d] no clothes
on" and was "exposed." Bendolph threatened to
beat her with a club (the type that keeps a steering wheel
locked) that was under the seat of the car.
14} L.G. agreed to get out and "started easing
over from the passenger seat to the driver's seat";
she was attempting to pull the keys out of the car ignition.
Bendolph, who had not been wearing a shirt, apparently
stepped out of the car and put the club between his legs
while he put on a shirt. At that point, L.G. "put that
car in reverse and got the hell out of there, " knocking
Bendolph to the ground in the process. She drove to a nearby
gas station, where a patron and a gas station employee called
the police. L.G. testified that she was bleeding and
"completely exposed, " so she waited in her car for
the police to arrive.
15} The police took L.G. to the hospital, where a
sexual assault kit was completed. L.G. testified that she had
"quite a few knots" on the back of her head, four
fractures of the "orbital floor of her left eye, and a
lot of cuts and bruises. She testified that the doctors were
hoping the bones around her eye would heal without surgery,
but that the healing was going slowly and was "a little
more complicated" because she was a diabetic. She
testified at trial that she still suffered blurred vision,
bad headaches, and had trouble with her vision for nighttime
16} L.G. was cross-examined at length about various
details of her testimony, but the cross-examination did not
suggest the nature of ...