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State v. Purifoy

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

July 19, 2019

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
STEPHEN S. PURIFOY Defendant-Appellant

          Criminal Appeal from Common Pleas Court Trial Court Case No. 2017-CR-2113.

          MATHIAS H. HECK, JR., by ANDREW T. FRENCH, Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office, Appellate Division, Montgomery County Courts Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          WILLIAM O. CASS, JR., Attorney for Defendant-Appellant.

          OPINION

          Froelich, J.

         {¶ 1} Stephen S. Purifoy pled guilty in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas to one count of attempted rape, a second-degree felony, and one count of attempted felonious assault, a third-degree felony. As part of the plea agreement, the State acknowledged that Purifoy would be eligible for community control sanctions in lieu of prison. After a presentence investigation, the trial court sentenced Purifoy to four years in prison for the attempted rape and 36 months for the attempted felonious assault, with the sentences to run concurrently. He was also designated a Tier III sex offender and ordered to pay court costs of $441.08.

         {¶ 2} Purifoy appeals from his conviction, raising two assignments of error: 1) whether the trial court erred by sentencing Purifoy to prison and not community control, and 2) whether Purifoy's counsel was ineffective for failure to file an affidavit of indigency and to request a waiver of court costs at sentencing. For the reasons below, the trial court's judgment will be affirmed.

         I. Procedural History

         {¶ 3} On or about July 6, 2017, Purifoy attempted to sexually assault a sleeping female caregiver at the group home for the developmentally disabled where he resided. When she resisted, he proceeded to punch and choke her. The victim convinced Purifoy that she had managed to call 911 and that the police had arrived, distracting Purifoy enough to escape in her car. The police found her in her car near the group home with marks and blood on her arms and face and abrasions on her knees. The police went to the group home, where Purifoy was waiting on the driveway, and officers arrested him without incident.

         {¶ 4} On July 17, 2017, Purifoy was indicted on one count of attempted rape in violation of R.C. 2907.02(A)(2) and 2923.02(A), and one count of attempt to commit felonious assault in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(1) and 2923.02(A).

         {¶ 5} Purifoy requested a competency evaluation on August 11, 2017. The first evaluation found him to be competent to stand trial. Upon defense counsel's request, a second, separate evaluation was ordered, and Purifoy was found not competent to stand trial. The court ordered a third evaluation, which found Purifoy was competent. The parties stipulated to the qualifications of the experts and to the contents of their reports. The trial court found Purifoy competent to stand trial.

         {¶ 6} On February 26, 2018, Purifoy entered a guilty plea to both counts. As part of his plea agreement, the State acknowledged that Purifoy would be eligible for community control sanctions in lieu of a prison sentence. During the plea hearing, the trial court explained to Purifoy that discretion to give community control sanctions or a prison sentence remained with the court. Purifoy stated he understood that he may not receive community control sanctions, and that it was possible for him to instead receive a prison sentence.

         {¶ 7} During the plea hearing, when asked if he had any questions regarding the two plea forms, Purifoy answered in the negative. When asked if he had any mental conditions that make it hard for him to understand what was being said or what was happening in the court, Purifoy stated, "I got MRDD problems," which was confirmed by the Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD) in the presentence investigation. When asked if there were any reason that he could not understand his rights as explained to him, Purifoy answered in the negative.

         {¶ 8} On June 20, 2018, after a presentence investigation, Purifoy was sentenced to four years in prison for attempted rape, concurrent to 36 months for attempted felonious assault. The trial court designated him a Tier III sex offender and ordered him to pay court costs. Counsel did not file an affidavit of indigency or request a waiver of the court costs at the sentencing hearing.

         {¶ 9} Purifoy raises two assignments of ...


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