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State v. Whitfield

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Lorain

December 30, 2019

STATE OF OHIO Appellee
v.
JASON WHITFIELD Appellant

          APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF LORAIN, OHIO CASE No. 13CR088081

          DENISE G. WILMS, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          DENNIS P. WILL, Prosecuting Attorney, and RICHARD A. GRONSKY, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          JENNIFER HENSAL, JUDGE.

         {¶1} Jason Whitfield appeals his convictions from the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas. This Court affirms.

         I.

         {¶2} According to the victim, she and Mr. Whitfield had been dating for about nine months prior to the events giving rise to this case. In September 2013, the victim's father dropped her off at Mr. Whitfield's apartment. Shortly thereafter, the victim's mother met the victim in the parking lot of Mr. Whitfield's apartment complex to give the victim her social-security money. The victim then returned to Mr. Whitfield's apartment.

         {¶3} According to the victim, at some point on the day that her father dropped her off, Mr. Whitfield pushed a large television in front of the apartment door and proceeded to beat her with the broken leg of a chair, urinate on her, and burn her with cigarettes. Mr. Whitfield also held a knife to her chest and forced his penis into her mouth. According to the victim, she did not feel free to leave, and could not move the large television while Mr. Whitfield beat her. Two days later, while Mr. Whitfield was asleep, the victim pushed the television away from the door and escaped the apartment. Her mother took her to the police station where she reported the abuse, and then to the hospital, where she was evaluated by a SANE nurse.

         {¶4} A grand jury indicted Mr. Whitfield on four counts of kidnapping, two counts of rape, and three counts of felonious assault. All of the kidnapping counts and two of the felonious-assault counts contained sexual-motivation specifications. The case proceeded to a bench trial in December of 2018, more than five years after the incident.

         {¶5} At trial, the victim testified as to the events described above, but admitted that she had difficulty remembering certain details. She also indicated that Mr. Whitfield hit her so many times that it was difficult to remember exactly what happened, and that the ordeal traumatized her. She further indicated that she takes antipsychotic medications that affect her memory, but do not affect her ability to tell the truth.

         {¶6} The detective who investigated the matter testified that it is not uncommon for victims who have undergone traumatic events to forget the details of an event. The SANE nurse testified similarly, indicating that trauma victims often have memory lapses, provide varying versions of the events, and repress certain memories.

         {¶7} The victim's father and mother also testified. The victim's mother testified that the victim seemed fine when she met her in the parking lot to give her the social-security money on the day the victim's father dropped her off at Mr. Whitfield's apartment. She testified that she called the victim numerous times after that, but that the victim did not pick up until two days later. When she answered, the victim's mother reminded her about an upcoming appointment that she was required to attend, and the victim told her mother that she would meet her in the parking lot. When the victim got into her mother's car, the victim's mother observed bruises, scratches, and burn marks all over her body. She then drove the victim to the police station, and then to the hospital. The victim's father similarly testified that the victim did not answer his calls while at Mr. Whitfield's apartment. He also testified that the victim did not have any injuries on the day he dropped her off.

         {¶8} The defense presented no witnesses, and the trial court took the matter under advisement. It later found Mr. Whitfield guilty of three counts of kidnapping and three counts of felonious assault, but not guilty of the accompanying sexual-motivation specifications. It found him not guilty of the ...


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