State v. Griffin, 010919 OHCA9, 28829

Docket Nº:C.A. 28829
Opinion Judge:THOMAS A. TEODOSIO, JUDGE.
Party Name:STATE OF OHIO Appellee v. SAMSON GRIFFIN Appellant
Attorney:KIRK A. MIDGAL, Attorney at Law, for Appellant. SHERRI BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and HEAVEN DIMARTINO, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.
Judge Panel:SCHAFER, P. J. HENSAL, J. CONCUR.
Case Date:January 09, 2019
Court:Court of Appeals of Ohio
 
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2019-Ohio-37

STATE OF OHIO Appellee

v.

SAMSON GRIFFIN Appellant

C.A. No. 28829

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Summit

January 9, 2019

APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. CR-2016-08-2868

KIRK A. MIDGAL, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

SHERRI BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and HEAVEN DIMARTINO, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.

DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

THOMAS A. TEODOSIO, JUDGE.

{¶1} Appellant, Samson Griffin, appeals from his burglary conviction in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas. This Court affirms.

I.

{¶2} The Blick Clinic operates dozens of residential group homes in the Akron area for individuals with developmental disabilities. Mr. Griffin previously worked for the Blick Clinic as a direct care staff member in 2013 and 2014, assisting residents with various issues in their homes. On August 15, 2016, a 42" Sanyo television was stolen from an autistic resident's room in the group home on Eastlawn Avenue in Akron.

{¶3} According to a father and son team who were painting the interior of the Eastlawn group home that day, they encountered Mr. Griffin inside of the home. They saw Mr. Griffin attempting to open a locked medicine cabinet in the kitchen, and Mr. Griffin told them he was "taking inventory." The son later went outside to retrieve a tool from his father's truck, and when he re-entered the home he passed by Mr. Griffin, who was exiting the home with a large, flat-screen television under his arm. The two men exchanged pleasantries and Mr. Griffin left.

{¶4} According to the human resources director of the Blick Clinic, Mr. Griffin called the executive director of the Blick Clinic that same afternoon to say he heard that he was being accused of stealing a television, but the allegation was untrue. The executive director spoke with Mr. Griffin while on speakerphone, specifically so the human resources director could listen to and witness the conversation.

{¶5} Four separate thefts had occurred in Blick group homes around that time, and the police began an investigation. They discovered that Mr. Griffin had pawned five different televisions in the past several weeks, although they were unable to locate the stolen 42" Sanyo. The father-painter identified Mr. Griffin in a photo array as the man he saw at the Eastlawn home with 90 percent certainty, but the son was unable to make a positive identification in the photo array. A Snapchat video of Mr. Griffin was also introduced at trial, in which he is in a vehicle wearing clothes matching the description provided by the son, and in which a television can be seen in the back seat. GPS evidence also placed Mr. Griffin's phone in the vicinity of Eastlawn Avenue around the time of the theft, and cell phone records indicated that a call was made to National Jewelry and Pawn ("National") from Mr. Griffin's cell phone that morning. Mr. Griffin denied entering the group home on that day and denied stealing the television, and instead told police that he was with his wife that afternoon. His wife's employer testified and presented documentation as to Mr. Griffin's wife's work schedule that day.

{¶6} Additional evidence was introduced at trial that Mr. Griffin had visited another Blick Clinic group home on Winhurst Drive three days prior to the Eastlawn theft. According to a staff member who was working that day, Mr. Griffin arrived, introduced himself using a different name, and asked to speak to a resident named Chris, but she informed him that no one by that name lived there. Mr. Griffin left, but returned shortly thereafter and asked to speak to a different resident named Kenny, who was in fact present in the home. After the staff member allowed Mr. Griffin to speak to Kenny, Mr. Griffin told the staff member that he was also supposed to be meeting Tonya there to "help her do something," but she informed him that Tonya no longer worked there. Mr. Griffin was sweating and he went downstairs alone to use the restroom-where additional doors to the house that could be unlocked from the inside were located-before he ultimately returned upstairs and left the home. Another resident who returned to the Winhurst home later that day discovered that his television had been stolen. According to the staff member, the name Mr. Griffin provided did not sit well with her and she believed that she already knew him through mutual friends. She later realized she had gone to middle school with Mr. Griffin's ex-wife, and she was friends with both Mr. Griffin and his ex-wife on Facebook.

{¶7} Mr. Griffin was indicted on one count of burglary, a felony of the second degree, for the incident at the Eastlawn home. He filed a motion to suppress the results of the pretrial identification, but withdrew his motion prior to a hearing. After a jury trial, Mr. Griffin was found guilty, and the trial court sentenced him to two years in prison.

{¶8} Mr. Griffin now appeals from his conviction and raises four assignments of error for this Court's review.

{¶9} For ease of analysis, we will consolidate and reorganize Mr. Griffin's assignments of error.

II.

ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR ONE

TRIAL COUNSEL WAS INEFFECTIVE IN FAILING TO OBJECT TO THE ADMISSION OF HEARSAY EVIDENCE.

ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR TWO

TRIAL COUNSEL'S FAILURE TO OBJECT TO THE ADMIISSION (SIC) OF EVIDENCE OF SAMSON'S PAWNING OF NUMEROUS TELEVISIONS CONSTITUTED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL.

ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR FOUR

TRIAL COUNSEL WAS INEFFECTIVE IN FAILING TO MOVE TO SUPPRESS THE IDENTIFICATION OF SAMSON

{¶10} In his first and second assignments of error, Mr. Griffin argues that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the admission of testimony and the pawn shop's business records identifying Mr. Griffin as having pawned five televisions between June 28, 2016, and August 15, 2016, because (1) the evidence was hearsay, and (2) the probative value of the records was outweighed by their prejudicial effect. In his fourth assignment of error, Mr. Griffin argues that his trial counsel was ineffective for withdrawing his motion to suppress the photo array as unduly suggestive. We disagree with all three propositions.

{¶11} We first note that "in Ohio, a properly licensed attorney is presumed competent." State v. Gondor, 112 Ohio St.3d 377, 2006-Ohio-6679, ¶ 62. "There are countless ways to provide effective assistance in any given case. Even the best criminal defense attorneys would not defend a particular client in the same way." Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 689 (1984). Moreover, debatable trial tactics will not constitute ineffective assistance of counsel. State v. Clayton, 62...

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