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State v. Smith

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

June 27, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
HAROLD SMITH, Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-18-627542-A

          Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Justin Washburne, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.

          Thomas A Rein, for appellant.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          SEAN C. GALLAGHER, PRESIDING JUDGE

         {¶ 1} Appellant Harold Smith appeals his convictions on multiple counts. Upon review, we affirm.

         {¶ 2} Appellant was indicted under a multicount indictment with charges stemming from an incident that occurred on February 14, 2018, outside an apartment building at 8302 Lake Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio. The state dismissed two counts, and the matter proceeded with a jury trial on four counts, including attempted murder, two counts of felonious assault, and domestic violence. All counts, except for the domestic violence, included a notice of prior conviction specification and a repeat violent offender specification that were bifurcated and determined by the judge.

         {¶ 3} An eyewitness, who lived in the apartment building, testified that he heard an alarming yell and went to observe the street from his third-floor window. He saw a woman crossing the street collapse to the pavement and heard a male yelling at her to "come back" and "get the f*** up." The witness testified that the woman told the male that she could not walk and then went unconscious. The witness then observed the male drag the woman across the street between two parked cars where the woman dropped "like a potato sack." The witness also observed that the woman's car door was open and that there was a dog in the passenger side that ran into the apartment building. A recording of a 911 call made by the witness was played for the jury. The witness testified that the suspect fled, and he provided a description of the suspect's vehicle. The witness observed others come to the street to try to help the victim. The witness was able to provide a description of the suspect, whom he had previously seen coming and going from the apartment building. He also had previously observed the victim in the apartment building. Although the witness was never shown photographs of possible suspects, at trial, the witness identified defendant as the assailant with "110 percent" certainty. Tr. 223:18.

         {¶ 4} Another eyewitness testified to what she witnessed from the other side of the street. She testified that she heard a "blood-curdling scream" and saw the victim sitting on the yellow lines in the center of the street with a little dog running around her. She called 911 and provided a description of the clothing the victim and the suspect were wearing. She observed a white woman sitting in the street and an African-American male, who had a scruffy face, drag the woman across the street in front of a parked car. She saw the male go into the apartment building and come back out. She testified that he got into his car and fled. She provided a description of his vehicle. Although she was able to provide a description of the suspect, she testified that she was not confident she could identify him. Her 911 call was played to the jury.

         {¶ 5} Video surveillance from the front entry of the apartment building depicted a scene consistent with the eyewitness testimony. The video also depicted appellant enter and exit the apartment building.

         {¶ 6} A responding officer found the victim lying on the street and her dog running loose. The victim had a knife in her shoulder and was taken to the hospital and had surgery. The officer found the door to the victim and appellant's apartment was open.

         {¶ 7} Testimony and evidence were presented as to the victim's injuries, which included two penetrating wounds. Photographic evidence was also introduced. The knife was recovered and identified at trial; however, it was not submitted for DNA testing.

         {¶ 8} A detective who investigated the case testified that she spoke with the victim and took her statement. The victim completed paperwork for a protection order. The detective also spoke to the eyewitnesses who testified at trial and obtained written statements. As a result of the investigation, appellant was deemed a suspect. Appellant was apprehended in Illinois and indicted on the charges.

         {¶ 9} The victim did not testify at trial. Appellant stipulated to his prior felony convictions.

         {¶ 10} The landlord of the apartment building testified that appellant and the victim were on the lease to an apartment unit in the apartment building. The landlord filed a notice of eviction after the rent payment was not made for March ...


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