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State v. Black

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

December 5, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
RAYSHON L. BLACK, Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case Nos. CR-17-613986-B; CR-17-614959-A; and CR-17-618389-A

          Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Eben McNair, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.

          Rick L. Ferrara, for appellant.



         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant Rayshon Black ("Black") appeals from his conviction for rape and kidnapping. After a thorough review of the evidence, we find the trial court did not err in admitting the victim's prior consistent statements, defense counsel was not ineffective for failing to object to the alleged hearsay statements, and Black's conviction is not against the manifest weight of the evidence. We therefore affirm.

         I. Procedural History

         {¶ 2} On March 23, 2017, Black was charged in a three-count indictment: Count 1 - rape in violation of R.C. 2907.02(A)(2); Count 2 - kidnapping in violation of R.C. 2905.01(A)(4) with a sexual motivation specification; and Count 3 - gross sexual imposition in violation of R.C. 2907.05(A)(5). The charges stem from an incident that occurred in August 2016. The victim in each count is Black's stepdaughter, T.S.

         {¶ 3} On August 6, 2018, the matter proceeded to a jury trial. After the trial court denied Black's Crim.R. 29 motion for dismissal, the jury found Black guilty of rape and kidnapping in Counts 1 and 2, respectively, and not guilty of gross sexual imposition in Count 3. The trial court then imposed a prison sentence of ten years on each count, to be served concurrently to each other but consecutive to the sentence imposed in another case at the same sentencing hearing.

         {¶ 4} Black now appeals his conviction, assigning three errors for our review:

I. The trial court reversibly erred in admitting hearsay into evidence in the form of prior consistent statements of the alleged victim without proper application of Evid.R. 801(D)(1).
II. Defense counsel provided ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to object to hearsay evidence presented at trial.
III. The manifest weight of the evidence did not support a conviction of Appellant.

         II. Evidence at Trial

         {¶ 5} T.S., who was 21 years old at the time of trial, has cerebral palsy due to medical complications suffered at birth. Because of her cerebral palsy, she has difficulty speaking clearly.

         {¶ 6} Alicia O'Neill ("O'Neill"), a speech language pathologist with the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities, testified concerning her interaction with the victim, T.S. O'Neill received a referral in 2017 from an employment and planning support administrator at the board to assist T.S. in communicating with potential employers. O'Neill testified that T.S.'s cerebral palsy has caused a motor speech impairment. Because of this impairment, T.S. has difficulty speaking clearly and she could not effectively communicate with potential employers. O'Neill explained that T.S. can communicate verbally, but "it can be difficult for others to understand what she is saying, especially at the conversational level." O'Neill therefore obtained equipment such as a computerized touch pad to help T.S. communicate.

         {¶ 7} T.S. testified at trial with the assistance of her touch pad device. In 2016, at the time of the alleged incident, T.S. was living in a home on Linwood Avenue with her mother, Priscilla Black ("Priscilla"), and Priscilla's husband, the defendant. T.S.'s brothers also lived there.

         {¶ 8} T.S. testified that on August 4, 2016, she was heading downstairs from her bedroom to get a drink from the kitchen when Black opened the door of his bedroom, grabbed T.S. by the arm, and pulled her into his bedroom. T.S. told Black to "get off me" and "leave me alone." She stated that Black "kept grabbing me, and I was yanking away, telling him to get off of me, but * * * my body can't - ." T.S. testified that she was not strong enough to fight her stepfather off. T.S. further stated that after Black got her into his bedroom, he put her on the bed, took off her shorts and underpants as well as his shorts, so that he was naked from the waist down, and he "stuck his penis in [her] vagina." T.S. repeatedly told Black to get off of her. According to T.S., at one point, her mother walked in the room and said, "Oh my God * * * you all can't keep doing what you doing" and then left the room. Black eventually stopped, and T.S. left the room to talk to her mother, but her mother would not listen to her.

         {¶ 9} Thereafter, T.S. took a shower, placed the clothing she was wearing into the laundry, and later washed her clothes. The next morning, T.S. sent a text message to her stepmother, TaJuan Hatcher ("Hatcher"), stating:

[Good morning] mom when u get a chan[ce] may u or my dad call me please something happen[ed] to me last night and I [know] that my mom don't believe and what I told her I ask[ed] her not to tell anyone but I [know] she going to say something so if u can may u or my dad please call me thank you this is seri[ous].

         {¶ 10} Hatcher testified that when she received T.S.'s text she was at work, and she let T.S. know that she would call her when she got home. She testified that she did not realize how serious the matter was.

         {¶ 11} T.S. also called her father, Le.S., and left him a voicemail message asking him to call her back. T.S. told her father in the message that she needed to talk to him about something serious. T.S.'s father testified that T.S. called him between midnight on August 6, 2016, and the early morning hours of August 7, 2016, but because he is "not really a phone person," he did not check his voicemail until later in the day on Sunday, August 7, 2016. Le.S. testified that although T.S. did not tell him in the message what happened, she let him know that it was "serious." Le.S. attempted to return his daughter's call but the call did not go through. He then saw T.S. two days later, when T.S.'s sister dropped her off at his home.

         {¶ 12} On Sunday, August 7, 2016, T.S. went to church with her friend Marcus Kincaid ("Kincaid") and his grandmother. After church, T.S. relayed to Kincaid that something bad had happened to her a couple of days before. Kincaid testified that after church, T.S. was upset and crying.

         {¶ 13} T.S. stayed with Kincaid until her sister could pick her up. After her sister picked her up, T.S. stayed with her sister for a couple of days and told her what had happened. Then on August 9, 2016, T.S.'s sister brought T.S. to her father and stepmother's house, where T.S. told her parents what had happened with Black. Hatcher testified that when T.S. had come over that Sunday, T.S. was upset and "scared to talk," but she eventually told Hatcher and Le.S. that her stepfather raped her. Hatcher took T.S. to the hospital but T.S. was unable to get a sexual assault examination.

         {¶ 14} Thereafter, Hatcher and Le.S. drove T.S. to the police station to report the rape but were not able to meet with an officer, so they returned home. Because T.S. needed her hair done and she needed a new phone, Le.S. suggested that T.S. go to the bank and get her money. Le.S. testified that he had helped initiate a lawsuit against the hospital when T.S. was born due to the hospital's alleged negligence and that T.S. ultimately received a medical malpractice settlement. He understood that T.S. had an administrator from the probate court to manage T.S.'s settlement funds until she turned 18 years old. Neither he nor Hatcher knew the amount of the settlement.

         {¶ 15} When Le.S. and T.S. went to the bank, they learned that T.S. "had no money." Le.S. contacted T.S.'s attorney to inquire about the funds, to "find out what happened to her money." Thereafter, on August 15, 2016, Le.S. and Hatcher brought T.S. to the police station for the second time to file a police report concerning the rape. They also ...

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