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State v. Curry

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

December 26, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
RONALD CURRY, Defendant-Appellant.

          Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-15-597049-A


          Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Daniel T. Van, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.

          Ronald Curry, pro se.



         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Ronald Curry, appeals pro se from the trial court's judgment denying his petition for postconviction relief. He raises the following assignment of error for review:

The trial court erred when it denied appellant's grounds for his postconviction petition based upon guarantees outlined in and in violation of Article I, Section 10 of the Ohio Constitution and the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution as he had ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to call a witness in his defense.

         {¶ 2} After careful review of the record and relevant case law, we find Curry's postconviction petition failed to set forth sufficient operative facts to establish substantive grounds for relief. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         I. Procedural and Factual History

         {¶ 3} In July 2015, Curry was named in a criminal indictment, charging him with four counts of aggravated robbery in violation of R.C. 2911.01(A)(1); three counts of rape in violation of R.C. 2907.02(A)(2); four counts of kidnapping in violation of R.C. 2905.01(A)(2); two counts of kidnapping in violation of R.C. 2905.01(A)(4); and a single count of attempted rape in violation of R.C. 2923.02 and 2907.02(A)(2). Each offense included a three-year firearm specification.

         {¶ 4} In March 2017, the matter proceeded to a jury trial, where the following relevant facts were adduced:

In July 1995, Curry and an accomplice, both wearing masks to hide their identities, robbed two male and two female victims at gunpoint in the backyard of the home of one of the victims. At trial, the victims testified that several were deprived of their property, but in the original police report, the investigating police officer only noted that one of the victims had property stolen during the robbery.
The two female victims, [ N.C. and T.B.] were forcibly removed to secluded areas on the property and were raped. Each assailant marched one of the female victims to a different area - [T.B.] was taken to a bedroom inside the house and [ N.C. was taken] behind the garage. The male victims were left lying prostrate in the backyard, and they fled the scene when the assailants took the female victims. [T.B.] was vaginally penetrated but refused to perform oral sex on the assailant. That assailant then met up with Curry, who had just finished raping [ N.C. ] behind the garage. The second assailant then forced [ N.C. ] to perform oral sex on him.
Curry and his accomplice fled the scene. Police were immediately called, and both women were taken to the hospital where evidence was preserved. In 2013, a test was conducted in the attempt to match the DNA, but only one of the samples collected was tested - the vaginal swab from [ N.C. ] who was sexually assaulted by both Curry and his accomplice behind the garage. Curry could not be excluded as the assailant.[1] The oral swab from that same victim was not retested. Curry testified at trial and claimed that he had consensual intercourse with [ N.C. ] at his birthday party days before the attack. [ N.C. ] testified to never having met Curry.

State v. Curry, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 105638, 2018-Ohio-683, ¶ 2-4. At the conclusion of trial, Curry was found guilty of all counts and was sentenced to an aggregate nine-year term of imprisonment.

         {¶ 5} Curry filed a timely direct appeal. In February 2018, this court affirmed Curry's convictions and sentence, finding (1) Curry's prosecution was timely commenced under R.C. 2901.13(F); (2) Curry was not prejudiced by the delay between the commission of the offense and the indictment; (3) the convictions were not against the manifest weight of the evidence; (4) sufficient evidence supported the convictions because Curry's identity was sufficiently established through the DNA evidence; and (5) Curry invited any error in the failure to merge the kidnapping count with the attempted rape count. See id.

         {¶ 6} In May 2018, Curry filed a pro se petition for postconviction relief pursuant to R.C. 2953.21. In the petition, Curry raised the following ground for relief:

1. Was trial counsel ineffective for failing to investigate and bring forth the testimony of Natasha Jackson?

         {¶ 7} In September 2018, the trial court issued a judgment entry denying Curry's petition for postconviction relief without a hearing. Curry appealed the trial court's judgment. However, this court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction due to the trial court's ...

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