Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common
Pleas Case No. CR-17-621424-A
Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting
Attorney, and Kelly Needham, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney,
V. Pagano, for appellant.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
T. GALLAGHER, PRESIDING JUDGE.
1} Defendant-appellant, Nathaniel Simpson, appeals
from his convictions following a bench trial. He raises the
following assignments of error for review:
1. The trial court erred when it denied Simpson's motion
for acquittal under Crim.R. 29 because the state failed to
present sufficient evidence to establish beyond a reasonable
doubt the elements necessary to support the convictions.
2. Simpson's convictions are against the manifest weight
of the evidence.
3. The trial court erred by denying Simpson's motion for
4. Simpson was deprived of his constitutional rights to due
process, a fair trial, and the effective assistance of
counsel where he was not permitted to introduce evidence of
his text messages with M.S. on July 3, 2017.
5. The trial court erred by ordering Simpson to have no
contact with his daughter.
2} After careful review of the record and relevant
case law, we affirm Simpson's convictions.
Factual and Procedural History
3} In September 2017, Simpson was named in a
three-count indictment, charging him with felonious assault
in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(1); abduction in violation of
R.C. 2905.02(A)(2); and domestic violence in violation of
R.C. 2919.25(A). The indictment stemmed from allegations that
Simpson physically assaulted his daughter, M.S., during an
altercation inside Simpson's home. In May 2018, the
matter proceeded to a bench trial, where the following
evidence was adduced.
4} M.S., who was 19 years old at the time of the
incident, testified that in July 2017, she was temporarily
living with Simpson during a two-week period he was receiving
chemotherapy treatment. M.S. stated that she assisted Simpson
with "regular duties around the house" including
grocery shopping and meal preparation. M.S. described her
relationship with her father as "kind of rocky,"
but attributed their "deteriorated" relationship to
being a side effect of his chemotherapy treatment.
5} On July 3, 2017, M.S. visited her friends in
Toledo, Ohio. M.S. testified that Simpson was upset she left
for the weekend and began arguing with her through text
messages. M.S. testified that she told her father that she
would come to his home, collect her belongings, and return to
her mother's home where she permanently resided.
6} M.S. testified that when she arrived to
Simpson's home, she and Simpson sat at the dining room
table and had a conversation that lasted over one hour. M.S.
stated that Simpson became more and more agitated during the
conversation. M.S. testified that she had previously arranged
for her cousin, Amhara Denson, to pick her up from
Simpson's house. When Amhara arrived, she called
M.S.'s cell phone and waited outside for 10-15 minutes
before M.S. told her to leave because Simpson "was not
letting me leave the house."
7} M.S. testified that she then went into her
bedroom to get the rest of her belongings and called a friend
to see if she could get a ride to her mother's home. When
her friend responded that she could not give M.S. a ride,
M.S. told Simpson that she would just walk to her
mother's home. M.S. testified that her comment triggered
Simpson, and that he "went crazy" and
"attacked [her]." M.S. testified that Simpson
"grabbed [her] by the [hair] and tossed [her] on the
bed." While M.S. was on the bed, Simpson held her down
by placing his knee on her back. When M.S. "rolled [her]
body," she and Simpson fell to the floor. M.S. testified
that she hit her head on the corner of a bookshelf when she
fell to the floor. While on the floor, Simpson continued to
restrain her. M.S. pleaded with Simpson to let her go, and
when he did, she immediately went to her friend's house.
8} After discussing the incident with her family
members, M.S. went to the hospital on July 4, 2017, where she
was diagnosed with a minor concussion, a minor neck sprain,
and a back contusion. Photographs of M.S.'s injuries were
presented to the trier of fact. Subsequently, M.S. filed a
police report on July 5, 2017.
9} Amhara Denson testified that on the day of the
incident, M.S. asked her for a ride from Simpson's home.
Denson testified that when she arrived at Simpson's home,
M.S. indicated that she "was coming right out."
After waiting for several minutes, Denson called M.S.'s
cell phone. Denson testified that when M.S. answered her
phone, she heard "scuffling" and heard M.S.
"[tell] her father to get off of her." Denson
testified that she also heard a male voice yelling. Denson
stated that she eventually left Simpson's home without
M.S. because she "kind of felt out of place in that
predicament." Denson also testified that M.S. told her
she "was okay."
10} Detective Barry Bentley of Cleveland Police
Department was assigned to investigate the allegations levied
against Simpson. In the course of his investigation, Det.
Bentley conducted a formal interview of M.S. and obtained a
warrant for Simpson's arrest. Once in custody, Simpson
"admitted that there was a small confrontation"
with M.S. because "he did not approve of the lifestyle
that she was currently living" and "felt she was
being unruly and also disrespectful." Det. Bentley
further testified that Simpson admitted that "when
[M.S.] attempted to go into the bedroom [he] grabbed her by
her hair and attempted to push her out the house."
Simpson also stated that "they both fell on the ground
and [M.S.] fell on top of him."
11} At the conclusion on the state's case,
defense counsel made a Crim.R. 29 motion for acquittal.
Following a brief discussion on the record, the trial court
denied the motion. Simpson then testified on his own behalf.
Contrary to M.S.'s testimony, Simpson testified that M.S.
was not living with him at the time of the incident. Simpson
stated that on July 3, 2017, he sent several text messages to
M.S. indicating that she was not welcome to come to his home
that day and "that she needed to go to her home where
she lived with her mother." Simpson explained that he
was weak from his chemotherapy treatments and did not want
M.S. coming over "because she was doing some very, very
serious things that could have gotten her put in jail."
Simpson denied assertions that M.S. was taking care of him
while he was undergoing chemotherapy. Simpson testified that
M.S. was "forbidden" from coming to his home and
that he took her house keys away from her approximately three
12} Regarding the incident, Simpson testified that
he was asleep when he heard someone come into his house
through the back door. When Simpson realized that M.S. had
broken into his house, he confronted her. Simpson stated that
while he was "telling [M.S.] to get out," she was
talking on her phone with a friend. Simpson testified that
M.S. was laughing and stated that Simpson was "not going
to do anything." At that time, Simpson "went to
grab [M.S.]" to remove her from his home. Simpson
testified that when he approached M.S., she "reached up
as though she was going to punch me." In response,
Simpson "reached up to try to grab her hair and her
arm." Simpson explained that when M.S. "swung
around," he and M.S. both fell to the ground. Simpson
testified that M.S. fell on top of him and hit her head on
the base of the bed. They fell a second time as they
attempted to stand up. Simpson testified that he did not
invite M.S. into his home, did not ask her to stay, and did
not hinder her from leaving. He further testified that he did
not knowingly cause serious physical harm to M.S.
13} At the conclusion of trial, Simpson renewed his
motion for acquittal, which the trial court denied.
Thereafter, the trial court found Simpson guilty of all
counts. Prior to sentencing, Simpson filed a motion for new
trial. In its entirety, the motion argued Simpson was
entitled to a new trial for the following reasons:
1. The court erred in denying the motion of the defendant for
judgment of acquittal made at the end of the State's
evidence and renewed at the conclusion of all evidence.
2. The verdict of the Court is contrary to the weight of the
3. The verdict is not supported by substantial evidence.
4. The defendant has new evidence that he was not aware of at
the time of the ...