Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Criminal Appeal from the Cleveland Municipal Court Case No.
2018 CRB 004102
Barbara Langhenry, Director of Law, City of Cleveland, Karrie
D. Howard, Chief Prosecutor, and Marco A Tanudra, Assistant
City Prosecutor, for appellee.
A. Kramer Law Clinic, Carmen Naso and Andrew Geronimo,
attorneys, and Matthew Logan O'Connor, certified legal
intern, for appellant.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
EILEEN KILBANE, ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE.
1} Defendant-appellant, Christopher R. Perkins
("Perkins"), appeals his petty theft and assault
convictions. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.
2} Perkins's convictions arise out of a March 2018
incident when Perkins allegedly struck Lenise Winters
("Winters") in his apartment and kept Winters's
car keys. Perkins was charged on March 19, 2018, with
unlawful restraint, petty theft, and assault. Perkins waived
his right to a jury trial, and in August 2018, the matter
proceeded to a bench trial.
The city of Cleveland's ("City") witnesses
included the victim -Winters - and Cleveland Metropolitan
Housing Authority ("CMHA") Police Officer Raja
Fattah ("Officer Fattah"). Winters testified that
she and Perkins had been friends for four and one-half years
and in a relationship for three years. Winters lived with
Perkins in his apartment. Perkins's girlfriend at the
time of trial, Lapeaches Scott ("Scott"), also
lived in the apartment for a period of time while Winters
lived there as well. Perkins wanted a sexual relationship
with both Scott and Winters, but Winters was not interested.
4} Winters further testified that at the time of the
incident, on March 18, 2018, she and Perkins were still a
couple. On that night, there was a dispute between Winters,
Perkins, and Scott. According to Winters, March 16, 2018, was
the last night she slept in Perkins's apartment. The next
day, Perkins told Winters that Scott needed help moving.
Perkins did not tell Winters where Scott was moving. At that
time, Scott had been sleeping on the couch in Perkins's
apartment for about a week.
5} On March 17, 2018, Winters spent the night at her
daughter's house. She was picked up by the paramedics at
her daughter's and taken to the emergency room. She was
discharged from the emergency room on March 18, 2018, and was
uncertain as to whether she was going back to her
daughter's house or to Perkins's apartment. Winters
testified Perkins invited her to his apartment, while she was
talking to him on the phone, to party with "a whole lot
of people." She testified that Diana Smith
("Smith"), a mutual acquaintance of Winters and
Perkins, was at Perkins's apartment at the time and
helped Winters get out of the car and get into the building.
Scott was also at the apartment at the time. Winters
testified that Perkins was the only person who had keys to
6} When she entered the apartment, Winters sat down in the
kitchen and Perkins began to question Winters and Smith about
his suspicion that Winters engaged in oral sex with another
male in the apartment two nights earlier. Winters and Smith
denied the allegations. The next thing she knew, Perkins
snatched the chair from underneath her, threw her onto the
floor, and started hitting her, wanting to know the name of
the other man. Smith helped her off the ground. Perkins then
faced Smith and began to swing the chair at her. She asked
Perkins if she could pass Winters her cane.
As Winters got to the apartment doorway, Perkins pushed her
down. She testified that Perkins knocked her down and said,
"naw, b****. You don't have no driving restrictions.
[Your] driving restrictions been - been revoked" while
ripping Winters's key out of her hand and into his hands.
She then scooted into the hallway, and she and Smith ran into
a neighbor's and called 911. Winters testified that she
had not yet retrieved her car keys. Winters further testified
that her back was bruised after the incident. She did not
seek medical treatment that day, but sought medical treatment
at some point after the incident because "everything
[was] just out of whack."
8} Officer Fattah testified that he responded to a
disturbance call on a CMHA property. He spoke with Perkins in
his apartment. He testified that Perkins answered the door
willingly. Perkins was a little intoxicated and sweating
profusely. He asked Perkins what happened, and Perkins stated
that he wanted Winters to leave because he had another female
in the apartment. He also told Officer Fattah that he had
been with Winters for some time and they shared a home at one
point. He did not admit to any physical altercation between
him and Winters other than that he pushed her out of the
apartment. Officer Fattah further testified that he found
marijuana in the apartment and Perkins admitted to drinking.
He did not notice anyone else in the apartment at the time
and stayed with Perkins the entire time while other officers
spoke with Winters.
9} Scott and Perkins testified on behalf of the defense.
Perkins testified that he broke up with Winters two or three
days prior to the incident and all of Winters's
belongings were removed from his apartment. Perkins denied
ever inviting Winters to his apartment on March 18, 2018.
Perkins testified that Smith was in the apartment helping
Scott move in and left a couple minutes before Winters
entered his apartment. He asked Winters what she wanted and
then asked her to leave three different times. He testified
that Winters became angry because of Scott's presence in
the apartment and the matter turned physical when Winters
struck Scott, causing her ear to bleed. Perkins got between
them and ultimately "pushed her" out his apartment.
Perkins was unable to call the police because his phone
battery was dead. According to Perkins, the entire incident
lasted approximately 10-15 minutes. Perkins testified the
police only found some marijuana in the apartment. Perkins
further testified the police searched his apartment and did
not find Winters's keys.
10} Scott testified that she is Perkins's girlfriend. No
one else was living with Perkins when she moved into his
apartment on March 18, 2018. Scott testified that Winters was
upset when she arrived because Scott was there. Winters tried
to get physical with Scott and then Perkins asked her to
leave. Scott testified that neither she nor Perkins put their
hands on Winters. Winters hit her, which caused her ear to
11} After the conclusion of trial, the court found Perkins
not guilty of unlawful restraint but guilty of assault and
petty theft. Perkins was sentenced to 180 days in jail,
suspending 175 days and crediting him with 5 days served, and
a $150 fine. Perkins was placed on 2 years of active
probation, the DIET program, and 100 hours of community
12} Perkins now appeals, raising the following two
assignments of error for review.