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State v. Robinson

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Butler

August 5, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Appellee,


          Michael T. Gmoser, Butler County Prosecuting Attorney, Willa Concannon, Government Services Center, for appellee

          Scott N. Blauvelt, for appellant


          HENDRICKSON, P.J.

         {¶ 1} Appellant, Gregory W. Robinson, appeals from his conviction in the Butler County Court of Common Pleas for robbery. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm appellant's conviction.

         {¶ 2} On February 14, 2018, appellant was indicted on one count of robbery in violation of R.C. 2911.02(A)(2), a felony of the second degree. The charge arose out of allegations that on November 3, 2017, appellant and another male attacked J.A., a 13-year-old boy, in an alley in Hamilton, Ohio. Appellant and the other male punched and kicked J.A. before stealing his backpack and sneakers and running off. The two male assailants were accompanied by a female.

         {¶ 3} Appellant pled not guilty to the charge and a two-day jury trial commenced in June 2018. The state presented testimony from J.A., J.A.'s mother, and two officers from the city of Hamilton's Police Department. J.A. testified that on November 3, 2017, he was walking to his home on Lockwood Avenue in Hamilton, Ohio after leaving his friend's house nearby. J.A. was walking home at dusk and decided to take a shortcut through an alley. In the alley, J.A. was approached by two males and a female. J.A. recognized one of the males as appellant, his 18-year-old neighbor who lived three houses down on Lockwood Avenue. Appellant was wearing a hoodie, one that J.A. had seen appellant wear before, and a baseball cap. According to J.A., the hoodie and hat did not obscure appellant's face. Appellant's face was visible due to the streetlights that were illuminating the area.

         {¶ 4} Appellant and the other male surrounded J.A. in the alley while the female stood about five feet away. Appellant asked J.A., "Don't I know you from somewhere?" J.A. believed the males were going to "try and do something" to him, so he said "no" and attempted to run away. However, appellant and the other male grabbed J.A.'s backpack and threw J.A. to the ground. Appellant and the other male began to punch and kick J.A. Appellant took J.A.'s Nike Huarache sneakers off J.A.'s feet. As appellant and the other male continued to punch and kick J.A., striking him in the face, back of the head, and all over his body, the other male took J.A.'s backpack. The backpack had J.A.'s school items, bus pass, house keys, and sweatpants in it.

         {¶ 5} After taking J.A.'s belongings, appellant and his two companions ran away from the alley. J.A. then ran home, shoeless, and his mother called 9-1-1. J.A. was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where he received stitches in his upper and lower lips. J.A. also sustained injuries to the back of his head and a concussion.

         {¶ 6} Approximately three weeks later, on November 27, 2017, J.A. gave a written statement to Detective Jon Richardson. Less than a month later, on December 21, 2017, J.A. identified appellant from a photo lineup.

         {¶ 7} J.A.'s mother testified that when J.A. arrived home on November 3, 2017, he was hysterical and was crying. J.A. was "covered in blood from his face" and had no shoes on. In addition to cuts on his lips, J.A. had knots on the back of his head, and scrapes and bruises on his arms and legs. J.A. was in pain for a week after the incident.

         {¶ 8} Detective Richardson testified that he was assigned to the case on November 6, 2017. After speaking with J.A. about the incident, the detective created a photo lineup with appellant's photograph included. The lineup was administered to J.A. by a "blind administrator" on December 21, 2017, and J.A. identified appellant as one of the perpetrators of the assault and theft.[1]

         {¶ 9} During his investigation, Detective Richardson was contacted by appellant's stepfather and by Tasia Upshaw, a woman who claimed to be the female present during the robbery. Appellant's stepfather asserted that Christian Alvarez was one of the males involved in the robbery. Detective Richardson created a second lineup containing Alvarez's photograph, and the photo lineup was administered to J.A. by a "blind administrator" on January 29, 2018. J.A. did not recognize anyone in the lineup and did not select Alvarez's photograph. Alvarez was significantly larger than appellant. He was six feet tall and 200 pounds, whereas appellant was only five feet, seven inches tall and 120 pounds.

          {¶ 10} Upshaw contacted Detective Richardson by phone twice during the investigation, claiming that appellant was not involved in the robbery. The detective testified that there were "huge discrepancies" in Upshaw's statements. Upshaw did not identify herself during her first phone call with Detective Richardson, but told him she had been present for the robbery. However, Upshaw asked him whether the robbery had occurred in a parking lot or an alley. After Detective ...

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