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State v. Brisbon

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

June 14, 2018


          Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-15-597672-A

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Eric J. Cherry

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor

          BEFORE: Keough, J., Laster Mays, P.J., and Celebrezze, J.



         {¶1} Defendant-appellant, Eddie James Brisbon, appeals his convictions. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         {¶2} In August 2015, Brisbon was named in a 13-count indictment charging him with eight counts of rape, two counts each of felonious assault and kidnapping, and one count of aggravated robbery. All counts contained one- and three-year firearm specifications, and a majority of the counts included a sexually violent predator specification.

         {¶3} Dissatisfied with his assigned counsel, Brisbon moved to disqualify counsel. His assigned counsel also requested to withdraw from the case. The trial court granted counsel's request and appointed new counsel. However, in March 2016, Brisbon moved to disqualify his new counsel. After his request was denied, Brisbon filed a voluntary waiver of right to counsel. The trial court ordered Brisbon to undergo a competency evaluation to ensure he was competent to waive counsel. Following the evaluation, the trial court granted Brisbon's request to proceed pro se, and appointed standby counsel.

         {¶4} On January 9, 2017, a bifurcated trial commenced, with the sexually violent predator specifications being tried to the bench. Following the close of the state's case, the state dismissed Count 7 - one of the rape charges. The jury returned guilty verdicts on all remaining counts and firearm specifications. The trial court found Brisbon guilty of all sexually violent predator specifications. After merging all relevant counts, the court sentenced Brisbon to a term of incarceration of 38 years to life.

         {¶5} Brisbon now appeals, raising three assignments of error.

         I. Facts

          {¶6} In the early morning hours of June 12, 2015, the female victim was late for work and missed her normal bus. She called her boss and told him that she would catch the bus from a different location. While on the phone with her boss a second time, an unknown man approached her. The victim's boss testified that he heard a muffled voice and then the phone went dead.

         {¶7} The victim testified that the unknown man, later identified as Brisbon, demanded her purse at gunpoint. Brisbon took her purse and started walking away. However, he turned around and demanded that she come with him. Fearful because he had a gun, she walked along with him. Video surveillance from the area corroborated the victim's testimony.

         {¶8} Under the cloak of darkness, Brisbon led her to an area near some bushes where he forced her to perform fellatio. She testified that Brisbon punched her during the rape. After this sexual and physical assault, Brisbon led the victim to another area along Euclid Avenue where he anally raped her and forced her again to perform fellatio. Thereafter, Brisbon held the victim's hand, forcing her down the street to an abandoned warehouse while threatening that he would slit her throat with a razor. After hearing a noise and believing someone was present, Brisbon forced her to another abandoned warehouse in the area where he vaginally raped the victim on a pile of wooden pallets.

         {¶9} The victim described the warehouse as dirty with tree branches, rocks, and wooden sticks everywhere. Following this assault, Brisbon forced her to another area with wooden pallets. There, he vaginally raped the victim and forced her to perform fellatio. During this sexual assault, Brisbon began physically assaulting the victim. She testified that he hit her with his belt and told her that she "wasn't doing it right." During this exchange, she tried to escape by pushing Brisbon and then running. However, Brisbon caught her, causing her to fall to the ground. As they were struggling, Brisbon struck the victim with a wooden 2 x 4, and ripped out her glued-in hair weave. Brisbon then forced the victim to crawl through the warehouse, while he continued to hit her with his belt.

         {¶10} When they approached another set of wooden pallets, Brisbon forced the victim again to perform fellatio. During this assault, Brisbon punched her and questioned why she would try to escape. The victim testified that she kept telling him that she wanted to go home to her son. The victim stated that Brisbon beat her and stood over her pretending he was going to strike her again with the wooden stick. During this assault, Brisbon ej aculated, which the victim spat on the dirty floor. Brisbon then sprayed hand sanitizer all over the victim's body, telling her that it would get rid of DNA. He also told her that he was going to put dirt in her underwear and make her eat dirt.

         {¶11} Afterward, Brisbon told the victim to get dressed and forced her outside. When they approached a tree with berries, he made her eat them, telling her the berries would help get rid of any DNA. He then walked her to East 55th Street and Superior Avenue and told her to "keep walking" and "don't look back and don't tell anyone" or he would kill her and her son. Brisbon fled with the victim's employment name badge, and the victim went to a nearby store and called the police. She testified that Brisbon terrorized her from approximately 2:30 a.m. until sometime after 9:30 a.m.

         {¶12} Sergeant Margaret Buttner testified that she responded to a call for a female sexual assault victim. According to Sergeant Buttner, the victim was very upset, crying, and shaken up. The jury was able to view the victim's demeanor through the recorded body camera video. Sergeant Buttner testified that prior to being transported to the hospital, ...

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