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State v. Edwards

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

December 5, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DAVID EDWARDS, Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-18-628743-A

          Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Steven N. Szelagiewicz, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.

          James J. Hofelich, for appellant

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          MARY J. BOYLE, PRESIDING JUDGE

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, David Edwards ("Edwards"), appeals his guilty plea and sentence. He raises three assignments of error for our review:

1. The trial court erred when it accepted appellant's plea without conducting the competency hearing required by R.C. 2945.37(B).
2. Appellant's plea of guilt to count thirteen was not knowing, voluntary, and intelligent as he did not waive his right to a grand jury.
3. The trial court's sentence of 21 years is contrary to law.

         {¶ 2} Finding no merit to his assignments of error, we affirm.

         I. Procedural History and Factual Background

         {¶ 3} On June 8, 2018, the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury indicted Edwards for eight counts of rape in violation of R.C. 2907.02(A)(1)(b), felonies of the first degree; three counts of gross sexual imposition in violation of R.C. 2907.05(A)(4), felonies of the third degree; and one count of kidnapping in violation of R.C. 2905.01(A)(4), a felony of the first degree. All of the counts for rape and gross sexual imposition contained a sexually violent predator specification, and the count for kidnapping contained a sexual motivation specification and a sexually violent offender specification. Two of the rape counts, three of the gross sexual imposition counts, and the kidnapping count were based on conduct related to Jane Doe I (D.O.B. 5/12/2009) (Counts 1 to 6), and the remaining six counts for rape and one count for gross sexual imposition were based on conduct related to Jane Doe II (D.O.B. 7/27/2006)(Counts 7 to 13).

         {¶ 4} On July 3, 2018, the trial court referred Edwards to the court psychiatric clinic to test his IQ, determine his competence to stand trial, and determine his eligibility for transfer to the court's mental health docket. It is not clear from the record if the trial court sua sponte sought the competency evaluation or if defense counsel or the state requested it. Further, while a report on Edwards's competency, IQ, and eligibility for transfer to the mental health court docket was completed, there is no indication in the record that the trial court ever reviewed that report or that it was made part of the trial court's record.

         {¶ 5} In November 2018, Edwards agreed to a plea deal offered by the state under which the state would amend the indictment and agree to dismiss certain counts. Edwards pleaded guilty to six amended counts of rape in violation of R.C. 2907.02(A)(2), with the sexually motivated predator specifications deleted. One of the counts for rape (Count 13) was also amended to "reflect digital penetration" and to reflect a third victim, Jane Doe III (D.O.B. 4/28/2010). Edwards also pleaded guilty to two amended counts of gross sexual imposition with the sexually motivated predator specifications deleted. The trial court nolled the remaining two counts of rape, two counts of gross sexual imposition, and one count of kidnapping.

         {¶ 6} Prior to pleading guilty and after discussing the amendments to the indictment, the state said, "Your Honor, it's our understanding the defendant will plead guilty to those charges, waive all defects in the amendments, especially for Count 13." Edwards's trial counsel agreed with the state's characterization of the plea deal and indicated that Edwards was accepting the plea to take the life specification off the table. After Edwards pleaded guilty, the trial court referred Edwards to the court psychiatric clinic for disposition.

          {¶ 7} At the sentencing hearing, the trial court stated that it received a "psychiatric recommendation regarding disposition report." That report, authored by Dr. James Rodio and dated December 20, 2018, states:

Due to health concerns, [Edwards] describes his current (Alford Plea Bargain) as a practical health matter to avoid ending life in prison from several medical issues, despite maintaining his innocence.
Mr. Edwards's life report * * * is marked by stressful events and long isolation, resulting in drug use and mood changes. He describes recent years of improvement when receiving outpatient antidepressant and sleep-enhancing medication.
For a successful clinical approach, Mr. Edwards should certainly remain abstinent from the use of alcohol, cannabis, and crack cocaine. This would stabilize his body and prevent exposure to negative peers. He also benefits from the antidepressant medication, Zoloft, and from the sleep-enhancing/mood-lifting medication, Seroquel.

         The report noted that Edwards attended the Bruster Business College and attained his state-tested nursing assistant ("STNA") license and worked as a certified STNA for over 20 years, but lost his license after he incurred gross sexual imposition charges.

         {¶ 8} The trial court sentenced Edwards to nine years on each count of rape and five years on each count of gross sexual imposition. It ordered that three of the nine-year sentences for rape (Counts 1, 7, and 13) be served consecutive to one another and that the remaining terms run concurrently, giving Edwards an aggregate prison term of 27 years. The trial court advised Edwards that he was a Tier III sex offender and of the reporting ...


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