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State v. Washington

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

June 6, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CHRISTIAN WASHINGTON, Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-17-621403-A

          Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Gregory Ochocki and Callista Plemel, Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys, for appellee.

          Thomas A Rein, for appellant.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          FRANK D. CELEBREZZE, JR., J.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Christian Washington ("appellant"), brings the instant appeal challenging his convictions for aggravated burglary, kidnapping, domestic violence, endangering children, menacing by stalking, and disrupting public services. Specifically, appellant argues that his convictions were not supported by sufficient evidence and against the manifest weight of the evidence. After a thorough review of the record and law, this court affirms.

         I. Factual and Procedural History

         {¶ 2} The instant appeal arose from eight separate incidents that occurred between appellant and Alicia Flowers (hereinafter "victim") between December 2016 and September 2017. Appellant and the victim met on July 5, 2016, and became intimate with one another approximately one week later. A month or so after meeting, their relationship "went bad." (Tr. 27.) Also, in late-August 2016, the victim learned that she was pregnant with appellant's child. The child was born in November 2016.

         {¶ 3} The tumultuous relationship between appellant and the victim is well-documented. Between December 2016 and September 2017, the victim made approximately 20 calls to the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority ("CMHA") Police Department involving appellant. (Tr. 29-30.) The specific details about the nature of these reports and the eight incidents for which appellant was charged will be discussed in further detail below.

         {¶ 4} In Cuyahoga C.P. No. CR-17-621403-A, the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury returned an 27-count indictment on September 29, 2017, charging appellant with (1) attempted murder, (2) aggravated burglary, (3) kidnapping, (4) domestic violence with a furthermore specification alleging that appellant previously pled guilty to or was convicted of three domestic violence offenses (June 2007 in Summit County; October 2008 in Summit County; and October 2008 in Summit County), (5) endangering children, (6) menacing by stalking with a furthermore specification alleging that appellant trespassed on the land or premises where the victim lives, works, or attends school, (7) menacing by stalking with a furthermore specification alleging that appellant made a threat of physical harm to or against the victim, (8) menacing by stalking with a furthermore specification alleging that appellant has a history of violence toward the victim or any other person or a history of other violent acts toward the victim or any other person, (9) burglary, (10) theft, and (11) robbery, (12) theft, (13) theft, (14) domestic violence with a furthermore specification alleging that appellant pled guilty to or was convicted of three previous domestic violence offenses, (15) endangering children, (16) theft, (17) burglary, (18) theft, (19) aggravated robbery with a one- and three-year firearm specification, (20) theft, (21) theft, (22) burglary, (23) criminal damaging or endangering, (24) aggravated burglary, (25) domestic violence with a furthermore specification alleging that appellant pled guilty to or was convicted of three previous domestic violence offenses, (26) kidnapping, and (27) disrupting public services. Appellant was arraigned on October 4, 2017. He pled not guilty to the indictment.

         {¶ 5} Appellant waived his right to a jury trial and elected to try the case to the bench. A bench trial commenced on March 19, 2018. The victim testified about the ongoing discord between her and appellant and the eight incidents for which appellant was charged in the indictment. The victim's testimony will be addressed in chronological order.

         {¶ 6} The victim testified, in general, that during several of the incidents, appellant would take her cell phone. Appellant would occasionally hit the victim, but he did not do so every time. The victim explained that appellant had a key to her apartment that he would occasionally use to gain entry. Other times, appellant would break into her apartment, either by kicking in the front door or entering through an upstairs window.

         A. December 1, 2016

         {¶ 7} Counts 9 and 10 of the indictment pertained to this incident. The victim testified that appellant came into her house, kicked and knocked at the door, came inside, and took her cell phone. She did not invite him inside on this occasion, nor did he have her permission to be there.

         B. December 9, 2016

         {¶ 8} Counts 11, 12, and 13 pertained to this incident, which occurred in a courtyard outside of the victim's unit. The victim testified that appellant grabbed her, took her wallet, and stole her food-stamp card. According to the victim, appellant had a gun at the time this incident occurred.

         C. April 16 and 17, 2017

         {¶ 9} Counts 14, 15, and 16 of the indictment pertained to an incident that occurred on April 16, 2017. Counts 17 and 18 pertained to an incident that occurred on April 17, 2017.

         {¶ 10} The victim testified that on April 16, 2017, she was at a friend's house when she got into an argument with appellant. She explained that during the argument, appellant "spazzed out" and pushed her while she was holding their son, who was less than one-month old. The victim's friend was eventually able to kick appellant out of the house. The victim spent the night at her friend's house.

         {¶ 11} The victim testified that she received a text message from appellant the following day, April 17, 2017, that contained "a picture of [her] house being empty." (Tr. 37.) The victim ran home with her friend and discovered appellant had taken several of her belongings. Specifically, appellant stole beds, tables, "end tables, the carpet, the TVs. [Her daughter's] TV, food, dishes, mop, broom, everything but the couch and my mirror and my washing machine and drier." (Tr. 37.) After discovering that appellant stole her belongings, the victim called the police and filed a report.

         D. June 9, 2017

         {¶ 12} Counts 19, 20, and 21 of the indictment pertained to this incident. The victim testified that appellant was in possession of a gun and he "took something" from her. (Tr. 45 .) The victim could not recall whether appellant took her cell phone or her food-stamp card, but she confirmed that appellant took something from her during this incident. The victim stated that appellant had a gun and pointed it at her. However, she subsequently explained that appellant "basically, like, showed [the gun] to me. * * * He showed it and let me know he had a gun, understanding that he had a gun and he's crazy." (Tr. 45.) The victim described the gun as a black .40 caliber Glock.

         E. August 17, 2017

         {¶ 13} Counts 22 and 23 of the indictment pertained to this incident. The victim testified that appellant broke into her apartment and flipped the victim's couch upside down.

         F. August 21, 2017

         {¶ 14} Counts 24-27 of the indictment pertained to this incident. The victim testified that appellant broke into her apartment by moving an air conditioning unit from an upstairs window. After entering the apartment, appellant "smashed everything" inside. Specifically, appellant "smashed" a television, Roku, and Fire Stick that belonged to her daughter.

         {¶ 15} The victim further testified that appellant came to her apartment and would not let her leave or take her daughter to school. Appellant "smashed" her cell phone. Regarding her assertion that appellant would not let her leave the apartment, the victim explained: "[appellant] was intimidating. ['B***h], if you leave, I am going to [f**k] you up.['] He was threatening me. He was throwing stuff. He was acting real crazy." (Tr. 52.) At some point, appellant permitted the victim to take her daughter to the bus stop and the victim was able to contact the police. CMHA police assured the victim that appellant was going to jail because he purportedly came into her apartment despite being on CMHA's "banned list."

         G. ...


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