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State v. Abercrombie

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

November 21, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JAMES ABERCROMBIE, III, Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-18-631763-A

          Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Marcus A. Henry, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.

          Eric L. Foster, for appellant.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          MICHELLE J. SHEEHAN, J.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant James Abercrombie III ("Abercrombie") appeals from the trial court's judgment denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. Upon a review of the record, we find the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Abercrombie's motion and we therefore affirm the judgment.

         Procedural History and Substantive Facts

         {¶ 2} On September 10, 2018, Abercrombie was charged in a multiple-count indictment including charges of gross sexual imposition, sexual battery, rape, kidnapping, and endangering children. Several counts included sexually violent predator specifications. The indictment stems from numerous incidents involving the two young daughters of Abercrombie's girlfriend.

         {¶ 3} On January 9, 2019, Abercrombie entered a guilty plea to an amended indictment. He pleaded guilty to Counts 1, 4, 6, and 8, gross sexual imposition in violation of R.C. 2907.05(A)(4); Count 11, rape in violation of R.C. 2907.02(A)(2); and Counts 17 and 18, endangering children in violation of R.C. 2919.22(B)(1). In exchange for his plea, all sexually violent predator specifications were removed and the state dismissed the remaining charges.

         {¶ 4} On January 14, 2019, the court held a sentencing hearing, during which both victims spoke about the abuse they suffered at the hands of Abercrombie, a father-figure, over a span of four years. The abuse began when one victim was 9 years old and the other victim was 13 years old.

         {¶ 5} After also hearing from defense counsel, the court asked Abercrombie if he wished to speak, and the following discourse transpired:

Abercrombie: From day one, your Honor, I want * * * I was told to waive my rights, and I should never have waived my rights.
Court: Well, I went through that with you at the time of the change of plea.
Abercrombie: You never explained it to me. You never explained it. I know you explained it, but I didn't know what was going on. I am not a lawyer, so I didn't know the real rights.
Court: Okay. Right. I went through them with you on actually more than one occasion on the record. Would you like to say anything with respect to sentencing other than ...

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