Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common
Pleas Case No. CR-17-622706-A
Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting
Attorney, and Brad Meyer, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for
V. Pagano, for appellant.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
LASTER MAYS, PRESIDING JUDGE.
1} Defendant-appellant Angelo Williams
("Williams") appeals his guilty verdict and
sentence and asks this court to vacate his convictions. After
a review of the record, we affirm.
2} Williams was convicted of trespass in a
habitation when a person is present or likely to be present,
a fourth-degree felony in violation of R.C. 2911.12(B);
menacing by stalking, a fourth-degree felony in violation of
R.C. 2903.211(A)(1), with a specification alleging a prior
conviction; aggravated menacing, a first-degree misdemeanor
in violation of R.C. 2903.21(A); and criminal damaging, a
second-degree misdemeanor in violation of R.C. 2909.06(A)(1).
Williams was sentenced to 17 months on Counts 1 and 2, six
months on Count 3, and 90 days on Count 4, to be served
concurrently for a total of 17 months in prison. The trial
court also waived court costs and awarded Williams 178 days
of jail-time credit.
Facts and Procedural History
3} On the night of September 30, 2017, Joie Graham
("Graham") was spending the night at the home of
Yarnell Brown ("Brown"). Along with Graham and
Brown, Tony Foreman ("Foreman") and three other
people were sleeping at the home. Graham and Foreman slept in
the living room, while Brown, Brown's partner, and
Graham's two children slept on the second floor. During
the night, Graham and Foreman were awakened by what sounded
like someone trying to get into the home through the front
door. Graham thought it was the wind, and both went back to
sleep. A few moments later, Graham was awakened again by a
noise coming from upstairs. Shortly thereafter, she saw
someone peek around a doorway across the room. Graham walked
towards the doorway and discovered Williams in the house. At
the time, Graham did not know how Williams entered the house.
Williams ordered Graham to "get your a** on the
couch." (Tr. 146.) Graham sat on the couch, and Foreman
woke up due to the commotion. When Williams realized that
Foreman was present, he exited the home out the front door,
ran down the street, jumped on his bicycle, and rode away.
4} The next morning, Graham observed damage to the
screen door from the upstairs bathroom to the balcony. The
screen door was cut, and the interior door was pulled away
from the frame near the lock. There was no known damage to
the door prior to everyone going to sleep the night before.
5} Prior to this incident, Graham and Williams were
in a romantic relationship that began around 2010. At the
time of this incident, Graham was involved in a relationship
with Foreman. Graham testified that during the time she was
romantically involved with Williams, he was physically
abusive and would stalk her. Graham, a postal carrier,
testified that Williams would follow her on her mail route
and threatened to harm her and her dog. In 2016, Williams
pleaded guilty to cruelty to animals, attempted burglary, and
menacing by stalking. Graham and her dog were the victims.
Williams's defense counsel stipulated to the authenticity
of the state's journal entry of the 2016 conviction but
filed a motion in limine regarding other acts and prior
convictions. The trial court denied the motion in limine.
Graham then testified regarding several instances when
Williams physically abused her, but she did not notify the
police. The defense objected, and the trial court overruled
6} At the end of the trial, the jury found Williams
guilty. Williams filed this timely appeal assigning three
errors for our review:
I. The trial court erred by denying appellant's motion in
limine and allowing the state to introduce hearsay and other
acts evidence in violation of Evid.R. 401, 402, 403, and
404(b) and appellant's constitutional rights to due
process, a fair trial and Sixth Amendment right to confront
II. Appellant's convictions were not supported by
sufficient evidence, and the trial court erred by denying his
motion for acquittal; and
III. The convictions were against the manifest weight of the
Hearsay and Other Acts Evidence
Standard of Review
[w]e review motions in limine on an abuse of discretion
standard. Mayfield v. Cuccarese, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga
No. 89594, 2008-Ohio-1812, ¶ 29. In general, the
decision whether to admit or exclude relevant evidence lies
within the discretion of the trial court. Rigby v. Lake
Cty., 58 Ohio St.3d 269, 271, 569 N.E.2d 1056 (1991). An
appellate court will not reverse that decision absent an
abuse of discretion and a showing of prejudice. Id. Cohen
& Co. v. Breen, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 100775,
2014-Ohio-3915, ¶ 18.
Whether the Trial Court Erred by Denying Appellant's
Motion in Limine and Overruling the Defense Objections by
Admitting Other Acts Evidence and Irrelevant
8} Williams argues that the trial court erred by
allowing Graham's testimony that Williams continuously
stalked her because the incidents were too remote in time,
and that a pattern of conduct had not been established.
Williams contends that by allowing the jury to hear testimony
that referred to events where a time frame was not
identified, he was unfairly prejudiced.
Evid.R. 404(B) precludes the admission of evidence regarding
a defendant's prior criminal acts when such evidence is
offered to prove the defendant's character and that his
actions were in conformity with that character. State v.
Herring, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 104441, 2017-Ohio-743,
¶ 12. However, evidence of the defendant's prior
criminal acts may be admissible for other purposes, such as
to prove "motive, opportunity, intent, preparation,
plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or
State v. Nunez, 2017-Ohio-4295, 92 N.E.3d 294,
¶ 17 (8th Dist.).
9} In State v. Williams, 134 Ohio St.3d
521, 2012-Ohio-5695, 983 N.E.2d 1278, ¶ 19, the court
[e]vidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts of an accused
tending to show the plan with which an act is done may be
admissible for other purposes, such as those listed in
Evid.R. 404(B) - to show proof of motive, opportunity,
intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of
mistake or accident - and in considering other acts evidence,
trial courts should conduct a three-step analysis.
10} Under the three-step analysis, first the trial
court had to "consider whether the other acts evidence
is relevant to making any fact that is of consequence to the
determination of the action more or less probable than it
would be without the evidence. Evid.R. 401."
Id. at ¶ 20. Second, the trial court had to
"consider whether evidence of the other crimes, wrongs,
or acts is presented to prove the character of the accused in
order to show activity in conformity therewith or whether the
other acts evidence is presented for a legitimate purpose,
such as those stated in Evid.R. 404(B)." Id.
Third, the trial court had to "consider whether the
probative value of the other acts evidence is substantially
outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. See
Evid.R 403." Id.
11} The state contends that the testimony was
offered to demonstrate a pattern of conduct by Williams as a
necessary element to establish that Williams stalked Graham.
"Menacing by stalking is governed by R.C.
2903.211(A)(1), and provides that '[n]o person by
engaging in a pattern of conduct shall knowingly cause
another person to believe that the offender will cause
physical harm to the other person or cause mental distress to
the other person.'" State v. Hersh,
2012-Ohio-3807, 974 N.E.2d 161, ¶ 16 (8th Dist). R.C.
2903.211(D)(1) states that "a pattern of conduct means
two or more actions or incidents closely related in
12} Williams contends that the state failed to
establish a pattern of conduct, or that the events were
closely related in time, and thus the testimonies regarding
his prior behavior is inadmissible hearsay. However,
R.C. 2903.211 does not specifically state what constitutes
incidents "closely related in time." Thus, whether
incidents should be deemed closely related in time should be
resolved by the trier of fact "'considering the
evidence in the context of all the circumstances of the
case.'" Middletown v. Jones, 167 Ohio
App.3d 679, 2006-Ohio-3465, 856 N.E.2d 1003 (12th Dist.),
¶ 10, quoting State v. Honeycutt, 2d Dist.
Montgomery No. 19004, 2002-Ohio-3490, ...