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State v. Long

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Lake

July 30, 2018

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
ANTHONY T. LONG, Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal from the Lake County Court of Common Pleas. Case No. 2016 CR 000571.

          Charles E. Coulson, Lake County Prosecutor, Lake County Administration and Stephanie G. Snevel, Special Prosecutor, (For Plaintiff-Appellee).

          Charles R. Grieshammer, Lake County Public Defender, and Vanessa R. Clapp, Assistant Public Defender, (For Defendant-Appellant).


          TIMOTHY P. CANNON, J.

         {¶1} Appellant, Anthony T. Long, appeals from the July 11, 2017 judgment entry of sentence of the Lake County Court of Common Pleas. The trial court's judgment is affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the matter is remanded.

         {¶2} On November 18, 2016, appellant was indicted on two counts of Aggravated Burglary, first-degree felonies, in violation of R.C. 2911.11(A)(1) (Counts 1 & 3) and two counts of Burglary, second-degree felonies, in violation of R.C. 2911.12(A)(1) (Counts 2 & 4). Appellant entered a plea of not guilty. Count 2 was dismissed prior to trial at the request of appellee, the state of Ohio. The charges were renumbered: Count 1, Aggravated Burglary; Count 2, Aggravated Burglary; and Count 3, Burglary.

         {¶3} On May 23, 2017, the matter proceeded to a jury trial. The state presented testimony from the victims, Clara Thomas and her son, AT., and from Erica Lansberry, Joseph Forman, Isaiah Haynes, and Patrolman William Sickles.

         {¶4} Erica Lansberry testified that on March 6, 2016, she lived at the Brentwood Apartments with Joseph Forman and her four children. Clara Thomas was her neighbor. One of the bedrooms in Erica's apartment shared a wall with Clara's closet.

         {¶5} At dusk on March 6, 2016, while she was outside smoking a cigarette in front of her apartment building, Erica saw four people, three males and one younger female, come around the corner. Erica testified they seemed upset. She saw the three males enter the building; the female remained outside. Erica described the three males entering the building as follows: (1) "tall, thin, white and very tall actually"; (2) "light-colored skin, African American * * * a couple inches taller than the first boy"; and (3) "African American, darker skin, shorter in stature than the other two and he had on a black and red jacket." Erica explained that at the time she did not know the identities of any of the people she described; however, she learned them later.

         {¶6} In court, Erica identified appellant as one of the people she saw on that evening.

         {¶7} Erica testified that after the three males entered the building, they went to the downstairs apartment where Erica's old neighbor and friend, Alisha, lived. They spoke with Alisha's son, Isaiah. Erica could not hear the conversation they had with Isaiah, but she saw Isaiah go upstairs with them. Erica observed that while the others appeared to go up the stairs in a hurry, Isaiah lagged behind.

         {¶8} Erica testified that she saw the group stand in the hallway at the top of the stairwell outside the closed door of Clara's apartment unit. Isaiah stood back from the rest of the group and was doing something on his phone; he looked distracted from what was going on in front of him. Erica saw an arm reach out and knock on the door of Clara's unit. She thought it was Isaiah that knocked on the door, but she could not be positive.

         {¶9} Erica explained that she looked away for a "split second" but turned back to look at the top of the stairs because she was always afraid her children may come out of her apartment. She saw the "skinny white guy" kick in the door. She heard a loud bang and saw the three males enter the apartment. Erica testified that Isaiah remained behind, looked shocked when the door was kicked open, and went back downstairs to his apartment. Erica was still standing outside but heard what she described as "a lot of yelling other noises besides yelling" going on within the apartment.

         {¶10} Erica testified that she saw Joseph exit their apartment and go into Clara's unit. She did not want to get involved and waited a minute to see if everyone was okay. After Joseph entered the unit, Erica saw "the tall thin white boy" and "the other taller boy" run out of the apartment and down the stairs. Erica identified the boys as "Andrew and a boy named [K.L.]." She saw them knock on the door of Isaiah's apartment. She testified that by this time, she had the door to the building open and was trying to figure out what was happening. She heard Andrew and K.L. talking to Isaiah. Andrew and K.L. then exited the building and went around the corner to where the younger female was standing.

         {¶11} Erica went upstairs to check on Joseph and Clara. She testified that the door to Clara's unit was open and she saw Joseph walk through the apartment, exit, and go back into their apartment. She remained in the living room of Clara's apartment. She saw Clara's son holding the side of his head and pacing back and forth, in and out of his bedroom. When she asked if he was okay, his reply was unintelligible.

         {¶12} Erica explained that the apartment looked in disarray. She saw Clara "peeking" her head out of what appeared to Erica as a closet or bathroom in Clara's bedroom. Clara appeared "shaken up." Erica saw appellant with Clara and asked Clara three times whether she was okay. Clara indicated she was. She did not observe any injury to Clara. Erica did not speak with appellant.

         {¶13} Erica did not call the police on the night of the incident. She did, however, give a statement to the police on March 12, 2016.

         {¶14} Joseph Forman testified that on March 6, 2016, he lived in the Brentwood Apartments with Erica and her children. They lived next door to Clara.

         {¶15} On the night of the incident, Joseph was putting one of the children to bed, when he heard a loud thump against the wall. He alerted Erica something was going on next door. He walked out and saw the door of Clara's apartment had been damaged. When he walked into the apartment, he saw a young African American male, approximately 15 years old, in the hallway. There was a Caucasian male, who looked a little older, in front of the bedroom. Joseph testified that as the two males walked out of the apartment, the Caucasian male walked up to him, got in his face, and made racial remarks. Joseph told the male he did not want any problems and to get out. Joseph walked towards voices he heard at the back of the apartment. AT., who was sitting on the bed in his bedroom, looked distraught. After Joseph asked whether he was okay, AT. indicated he was fine.

         {¶16} Joseph testified that when he walked into the back bedroom, he saw an African American male standing in the bedroom. He had never seen the man before and knew he did not live in the building. Clara was in the closet. The closet was torn up, and Joseph testified he could tell something had happened. Clara looked shaken, was crying, and could barely speak; her shirt was not on, and she was attempting to cover herself with something she was holding. When Joseph first asked Clara whether she was okay, she did not respond and looked in the direction of the man. Joseph was concerned about the reason the man was in Clara's room, so Joseph asked him whether he was supposed to be there and told him he should leave. The second time Joseph asked whether Clara was okay, he could hear the trembling in her voice as she responded she was fine. He asked the man to leave again. The man responded he belonged there and was trying to deal with the situation. At that time, Clara "said something" to Joseph, and Joseph left the apartment.

         {¶17} In court, Joseph identified appellant as the man he had seen in the bedroom in Clara's apartment.

         {¶18} On cross-examination, Joseph testified there was a younger female in the apartment building at the bottom of the stairwell. He did not know who she was, but he felt things calmed down after she and the two younger males had exited the building. Joseph returned to his apartment, then went out to have a smoke and observe what was happening. He spoke with Clara later that evening.

         {¶19} Joseph testified that he did not call the police because he feared retaliation, and he did not recall seeing any police at the apartment that night. He explained that in that area there were problems with violent crime. The police contacted him the following day, and he provided a statement.

         {¶20} Isaiah Haynes testified that he is 19 years old, and that on March 6, 2016, he was living in the Brentwood Apartments with his mother, brother, and sisters. That evening, while he was on the phone with his girlfriend, he heard a knock at the door. He was not expecting visitors. At the door were appellant, K.L., and T.L. Isaiah testified that appellant raised him and is his cousin, although not a blood relation; K.L. is a blood-related cousin; and T.L. is also a cousin. Isaiah testified that Andrew Clelland also showed up at his apartment at some point, but he did not arrive there at the same time as appellant, K.L., and T.L.; Isaiah and Andrew "grew up like brothers."

         {¶21} Isaiah explained that they engaged in "family talk," but the conversation got right to the point, and appellant asked Isaiah if he knew AT. and where AT. lived. After informing them AT. lived upstairs, Isaiah led the group to A.T.'s apartment where AT. lived with his mother, Clara Thomas. Isaiah knocked on the door, and when AT. asked who was there, Isaiah identified himself. Isaiah testified that when AT. opened the door, K.L. "peeked around," looked at AT., and punched him in the face. AT. said something along the lines of "That's why we got your sister.'" The group then looked at each other, entered the apartment, and a fight broke out between AT., K.L., and Andrew. Clara came running out of her room and into the hallway of the apartment. She was yelling at them to stop fighting and that she was pregnant. At that point, appellant ran into the apartment and put his body between Clara's body and the fight. AT. got away from Andrew and K.L. and ran into his mother's walk-in closet. Everyone else followed him into the closet where Clara stood on the left side. Isaiah testified he saw Andrew hit AT. After the fight, AT. was on the floor curled up in a ball, and Isaiah heard Andrew screaming and yelling at the neighbors.

         {¶22} Isaiah explained that while he was at the door of AT. and Clara's apartment, he was talking to his girlfriend on speaker phone. He was not looking at the door. Isaiah did not see Andrew kick in the apartment door, and he did not hear the door get kicked. While they were in the apartment, Isaiah saw K.L. and Andrew hitting AT., but he did not see Clara get hit or pushed against the wall of the closet. Clara was wearing a red robe with a design on it, and she was yelling and crying and appeared "livid" about the incident. Isaiah did not observe any injury to Clara but knew his mother took Clara to the hospital after the incident.

         {¶23} Isaiah further testified he had no knowledge that K.L. or appellant wanted to fight AT. but stated he assumed K.L. would want to fight AT. due to something that happened to K.L.'s sister. Isaiah testified he knew something had happened with K.L.'s sister at least a week or two prior to the fight with AT., but he "was just told not to say anything."

         {¶24} Isaiah talked to the police the next day and provided a written statement about the incident. Isaiah was not arrested or charged.

         {¶25} AT. testified he is 16 years old. On March 6, 2016, he was 14 years old and lived in the Brentwood Apartments with his mother, Clara Thomas. After going to church and his grandmother's house, he and his mother returned to Brentwood in the evening. He heard a knock at the door and went to answer it. Isaiah, his downstairs neighbor, was at the door with some other people. One of the people was Caucasian with a beard and a mustache. AT. knew his name was "Drew." AT. testified there was also a young female, a male teen, and an adult male at the door. In court, AT. identified appellant as the adult.

         {¶26} When AT. answered the door the teen punched him, AT. fell to the floor, and the teen and the Caucasian male punched and kicked him. AT. testified he then ran back to his mother's room. His mother was lying in bed. AT. ended up on the closet floor where they punched and kicked him again. He explained that his mother tried to get them off him, and the adult pushed her into the wall on the left side of the closet. Isaiah, the teen, and the Caucasian male scattered and left the ...

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