State v. Hatchell, CR 13 579217

CourtCourt of Common Pleas of Ohio
Writing for the CourtJohn P. O'Donnell, J.
PartiesSTATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff, v. OCTAVIA HATCHELL, Defendant
Docket NumberCR 13 579217
Decision Date13 February 2014

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff,
v.

OCTAVIA HATCHELL, Defendant

No. CR 13 579217

Court of Common Pleas of Ohio, Cuyahoga

February 13, 2014


JOURNAL ENTRY DENYING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS TO DISMISS FOR PREINDICTMENT DELAY AND FAILURE TO PROVIDE A SPEEDY TRIAL

John P. O'Donnell, J.

Octavia Hatchell is charged with kidnapping and raping R.P. on December 5, 1995, when he was 17 years old. He was indicted by a grand jury on October 24, 2013. But this indictment is not the first time Hatchell has faced these charges. On December 7, 1996, a criminal complaint was filed against him as case number 9515764 in the juvenile division of this court. That complaint was tried and, on February 6, 1998, the juvenile court judge found Hatchell delinquent on both charges. His commitment to the Ohio Department of Youth Services was stayed pending a sex offender assessment that included a polygraph test.

After the polygraph was done, Hatchell filed a motion for a new trial. That motion is not of record here. It was granted on June 18, 1996. On the same date, the oral motion of the prosecutor to dismiss the complaint was granted and no proceedings took place in the juvenile division or here until the indictment last October.

Hatchell has now filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, arguing that he has been prejudiced by the state's unreasonable preindictment delay in bringing these charges against him. Alternatively, he argues that dismissal is warranted because his statutory and constitutional right to a speedy trial has been violated.

A hearing on the motions was held January 31, 2014, and this entry follows.

STATEMENT OF FACTS [1]

On December 5, 1995, R.P. accused Hatchell of abducting her at gunpoint as she walked to school. She claimed that he brought her to his house and raped her repeatedly over the course of the day. Hatchell was arrested on December 6 and remained in custody until being adjudged delinquent on February 6, 1996.

At the January 29, 1996, trial, R.P. testified on cross-examination that the rapes were committed in Hatchell's upstairs bedroom. She said that on a few occasions during the day some of Hatchell's family members, who lived in the house, entered the bedroom. When this occurred she hid herself under the covers. She also admitted to falling asleep with Hatchell two or three times between rapes. R.P. said that at the end of the day, after the rapes were over, Hatchell gave her a piggyback ride downstairs in front of Hatchell's family and she remembered the family laughing and teasing her about her new short haircut.

One or more police officers also testified at trial. The trial testimony was recorded by audiotape equipment. Neither the tape nor a written transcript of any of the testimony exists today.

A rape kit consisting of biological specimens collected from R.P. was created after she went to the police but the items in it were never tested for the presence of biological or other evidence implicating Hatchell. No evidence of the contents of the rape kit was introduced at the trial.

Hatchell and R.P. had a child before December 1995. Upon arrest, Hatchell made a voluntary statement to law enforcement to the effect that he did have consensual sexual conduct with R.P. but that he did not force or threaten her.

The prosecutor in juvenile court was Rebecca Maleckar. She admits to not recalling every detail of this case but does remember being surprised that R.P. testified to the things summarized above because they badly damaged R.P.'s credibility. Maleckar could not recall whether she first learned of the damaging statements before trial or during cross-examination at trial, but she agreed that if R.P. had made the statements before trial, Maleckar would have produced them to defense counsel as potentially exculpatory. According to Hatchell's defense counsel at the trial, Mark Stefan, there is no question that R.P.'s statements were not known to Maleckar until he cross-examined R.P.

After the judge adjudicated Hatchell as delinquent he ordered a sex offender assessment. As a routine portion of that assessment the court ordered Hatchell to submit to a polygraph examination. The results of that polygraph no longer exist. However, Maleckar and Stefan concur that the polygraph examiner found that Hatchell showed no deception when he stated during the test that he never had a gun and did not force R.P. to have sex.

After the adjudication, Maleckar expressed shock to Stefan about the result, given R.P.'s testimony on cross-examination. Stefan recalls Maleckar stipulating to the admission into evidence of the polygraph test result to support the defendant's motion for a new trial. The grounds for the motion for a new trial were the credibility questions surrounding R.P.'s testimony and the result of the polygraph. The motion itself is not extant.

After the motion was granted and the charges dismissed, the state did nothing to pursue this case until recently, when the rape kit was finally tested and found to contain biological evidence from Hatchell. The state then presented the case to a grand jury and the indictment here ensued.

Hatchell was most recently arrested in this case on October 15, 2013, and has been in custody awaiting trial since then.

LAW AND ANALYSIS

Preindictment delay

The Ohio Supreme Court has held that an unjustifiable delay between the commission of an offense and a defendant's indictment therefor, which results in actual prejudice to the defendant, is a violation of the right to due process of law under Section 16, Article I of the Ohio Constitution and the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. State v. Luck , 15 Ohio St.3d 150, 15 Ohio B. 296, 472 N.E.2d 1097 (1984), syllabus two. Charges against a defendant who has been denied his constitutional right to due process must be dismissed.

In order to warrant dismissal on the basis of preindictment delay, a defendant must present evidence...

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