Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton
Criminal Appeal From: Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas
Trial No. B-1706912
T. Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, and Paula E.
Adams, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for
Timothy J. McKenna, for Defendant-Appellant.
Defendant-appellant Stephen Morris appeals from the trial
court's judgment convicting him, upon a guilty plea, of
rape. In three assignments of error, he argues that the trial
court erred in denying his request for independent laboratory
testing of DNA evidence, that his trial counsel rendered
ineffective assistance, and that his plea was not entered
knowingly or voluntarily because the trial court failed to
properly advise him about postrelease control.
Finding Morris's assignments of error to be without
merit, we affirm the trial court's judgment.
and Procedural Background
The grand jury issued an indictment charging Morris with two
counts of rape in violation of R.C. 2907.02(A)(1)(b). The
victim of these offenses was a 12-year-old girl who became
pregnant following the rape. DNA testing obtained by the
state showed that Morris was the father of the victim's
Morris's counsel made an oral motion for the DNA samples
to be retested at a private lab, but the trial court
overruled the motion. Morris then entered a guilty plea to
one count of rape in return for the state dismissing the
second count. The trial court imposed a sentence of 10
years' to life imprisonment.
of Independent DNA Test
In his first assignment of error, Morris argues that the
trial court erred by denying his request for independent
laboratory testing of the DNA evidence.
A guilty plea waives "any complaint as to claims of
constitutional violations not related to the entry of the
guilty plea." State v. Ketterer, 111 Ohio St.3d
70, 2006-Ohio-5283, 855 N.E.2d 48, ¶ 105; see State
v. Watson, 1st Dist. Hamilton Nos. C-170598 and
C-170648, 2018-Ohio-4971, ¶ 3 (a guilty plea
"waives the right to appeal all nonjurisdictional
defects in the proceedings."). By pleading guilty,
Morris waived the right to challenge the trial court's
denial of his request for an independent DNA test. The first
assignment of error is accordingly overruled.
In a related second assignment of error, Morris argues that
his counsel was ineffective for failing to file a written
motion for independent laboratory testing of the DNA
Counsel will not be considered ineffective unless her or his
performance was deficient and caused actual prejudice to the
defendant. Strickland v. Washington,466 U.S. 668,
687, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984); State v.
Bradley,42 Ohio St.3d 136, 141-142, 538 N.E.2d 373
(1989). Counsel's performance will only be deemed
deficient if it fell below an objective standard of
reasonableness. Strickland at 688; Bradley
at 142. A defendant is only prejudiced by counsel's
performance if there is a reasonable probability that the
outcome of the proceedings would have been different but for
the deficient performance. Strickland at 694;
Bradley at 142. ...