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State v. Martin

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

May 10, 2018


          Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-16-612220-A

          APPELLANT Tramaine E. Martin, pro se

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Erin Stone Anna Woods Assistant County Prosecutors

          BEFORE: Kilbane, J., E.A. Gallagher, A.J., and McCormack, J.



         {¶1} Defendant-appellant, Tramaine Martin ("Martin"), brings this pro se appeal challenging his convictions and sentence for attempted rape, gross sexual imposition, and kidnapping. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

         {¶2} In December 2016, Martin was charged in a five-count indictment arising from allegations by his former girlfriend's ten-year-old niece, K.B., that Martin sexually assaulted her during a sleepover at Martin's home. The indictment charged Martin with one count of rape, one count of attempted rape, two counts of gross sexual imposition ("GSI"), and one count of kidnapping with a sexual motivation specification.

         {¶3} In February 2017, the trial court granted counsel's request to withdraw and appointed the Cuyahoga County Public Defender to represent Martin. In April 2017, Martin's assistant public defender moved to withdraw, advising the court that Martin wished to proceed pro se. The trial court denied counsel's request and referred Martin to the court psychiatric clinic for an evaluation.[1] In May 2017, the state and Martin's assistant public defender stipulated to a report indicating Martin was competent to represent himself, and the trial court granted Martin's request to proceed pro se.

         {¶4} In June 2017, the trial court addressed Martin's various pro se motions on the record. Martin explained he moved to suppress evidence stemming from his arrest. He claimed his arrest constituted an "illegal seizure" because "Cleveland Heights [police] came to Cleveland and arrested me." The trial court denied the motion without hearing. The trial court also denied Martin's January 2017 motion to dismiss and continued the matter to allow the state to provide a calculation of Martin's speedy trial time. A few weeks later, the trial court denied Martin's motion to dismiss, finding that 19 speedy trial days remained.

         {¶5} In July 2017, Martin executed a written waiver of his right to a jury trial, and the matter proceeded to trial before the bench. The following was adduced at trial.

         {¶6} In December 2016, K.B., along with her two siblings, had a sleep over with their cousins at the Cleveland Heights home of their aunt, K.S. Martin is the father of K.S.'s two youngest children. At the time of the sleep over, Martin was living in K.S.'s home, but slept in his own separate bedroom.

         {¶7} K.B. testified that during the sleep over, she was sleeping in the same bed with her 12-year-old cousin, T.M., in a third-floor bedroom. T.M. is Martin's daughter. K.B. explained she awoke in the middle of the night when she heard someone coming up the stairs. Martin came into the room, got into the bed under the covers between K.B. and T.M., and pulled down K.B.'s pants. He then attempted to "stick his private part" into K.B. from behind while holding down her arms. K.B. explained Martin was not successful because she kept her legs closed. Martin then put his tongue to K.B.'s "private part, " pulled up her pants, got out of the bed, and went back downstairs.

         {¶8} K.B. started crying during the incident. After Martin left the room, K.B. went downstairs to use her aunt's phone to call her mother. K.B. saw Martin coming out of the second-floor bathroom on her way to her aunt's room. Martin asked K.B. "what was wrong?" because she was still crying, but she did not reply. K.B. went outside on the porch to call her mother and waited there until her mother arrived.

         {¶9} K.B.'s mother drove her directly to the Cleveland Heights police station, and K.B. gave an interview and a written statement. After K.B. made a police report, she returned home with her mother to wait until a sexual assault nurse examiner ("SANE examiner") became available later that morning. K.B. was examined by a SANE examiner a few hours later.

         {¶10} At trial, K.B.'s mother, aunt, and cousin testified, corroborating K.B.'s version of events. Notably, Martin's 12-year-old daughter, T.M., testified that she remembered sharing a bed with K.B. during the sleep over, and she further recalled that she had seen "my dad" _ Martin _ get in the bed and under the covers, between her and K.B.

         {¶11} A forensic biologist and a forensic scientist both testified as to the results of the rape kit. The forensic biologist explained she conducted testing that revealed the presence of amylase on both the front and back panels of K.B.'s underwear. Amylase is found in high concentrations in saliva but can also be detected in other bodily fluids. The forensic scientist conducted a DNA analysis of the amylase found in K.B.'s underwear. The forensic scientist testified that the amylase contained a mixed DNA profile from two people _ K.B. and a male. The forensic scientist explained that DNA found in the front panel "was consistent with male DNA, but the profile was too low to be able to, with any degree of confidence, say who it may * * * have been from." However, the forensic scientist further testified that the male DNA profile of the amylase swabbed from the back panel of K.B.'s underwear was "consistent with [Martin] to the degree of being rarer than one in one trillion."

         {¶12} Cleveland Heights Detective William Stross, Jr. ("Detective Stross") of the Cleveland Heights police department testified to his role in the investigation. Detective Stross explained that he "requested a warrant [for Martin's arrest] from [the Cleveland Heights municipal court] and * * * signed a complaint against [Martin.]"

         {¶13} After the state rested, Martin testified on his own behalf, denying any sexual conduct with K.B. However, he admitted to going upstairs to the room in which K.B. and T.M. were sleeping. He explained his purpose was to "check[] on [the girls]" and that he merely put his knee and hand on the bed to retrieve T.M.'s glasses, because she had fallen asleep with them on.

         {¶14} At the conclusion of trial, the trial court found Martin guilty of one count each of attempted rape, GSI, and kidnapping. With regard to the kidnapping count, the trial court found Martin guilty of a sexual motivation specification and that Martin had released K.B. unharmed. A few days later, the trial court sentenced Martin to an indefinite prison term of ten years to life with the possibility of parole after ten years. The trial court determined Martin to be a Tier III sex offender.

         {¶15} It is from this order that Martin appeals, raising seven assignments of error for our review:

Assignment of Error One
The trial court committed plain, reversible error when it denied [Martin's] motion to suppress.
Assignment of Error Two
The trial court committed plain, reversible error when it denied [Martin's motion for] dismissal of the indictment.
Assignment of Error Three
The trial court committed plain, reversible error when it denied [Martin's motion for] dismissal based upon violation to statutory and constitutional right to a speedy trial.
Assignment of Error Four
[Martin's convictions are] not sustained by sufficient evidence.
Assignment of Error Five
[Martin's convictions] are against the manifest weight of the evidence.
Assignment of Error Six
The trial court imposed a sentence that wasn't authorized by law; is void, ab initio; and must be vacated along with convictions therefor[e].
Assignment of Error Seven
[R.C.] 2941.147 is unconstitutional when attached to a violation of [R.C.] 2905.01(A)(4).
Motion to Suppress

         {¶16} In the first assignment of error, Martin argues the trial court erred in denying his suppression motion without conducting a hearing.

         {¶17} Our review of a trial court's decision to deny a motion to suppress is de novo. State v. Hernandez, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 90581, 2008-Ohio-5871, ¶ 11. Review of a motion to suppress "involves a mixed question of law and fact." State v. Burnside, 100 Ohio St.3d 152, 2003-Ohio-5372, 797 N.E.2d 71, ¶ 8.

         {¶18} This court has held that an evidentiary hearing is not mandatory on every motion to suppress. State v. Mason, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 104533, 2017-Ohio-7065, ¶ 14. Indeed, Ohio Crim.R. 12(F) instructs that a "'court may adjudicate a motion based upon briefs, affidavits, the proffer of testimony and exhibits, a hearing, or other appropriate means.'" Id., quoting Crim.R. 12(F). "'A trial court must conduct [a suppression] hearing only when the claims in the motion would justify relief and are supported by factual allegations.'" State v. Conley, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 88495, 2007-Ohio-2920, ¶ 11, quoting State v. Djuric, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 87745, 2007-Ohio-413, ¶ 32. Thus, we examine the record to determine whether the claims in Martin's suppression motion would justify relief and are supported by factual allegations. Mason at ¶ 14.

         {¶19} Prior to trial, Martin moved to suppress all evidence stemming from his arrest, making two separate claims. First, he claims Cleveland Heights police did not have "territorial jurisdiction" to execute the arrest warrant in the city of Euclid. Cleveland Heights police used cell phone tracking information to locate and arrest Martin at a ...

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