Decision Not to Allow a Motion for New Trial Overturned in Convicted Murderer’s Case
A trial court should have held a hearing before denying a convicted murderer’s request to seek a new trial based on a claim of newly discovered evidence, the First District Court of Appeals ruled on Friday. In finding that the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court abused its discretion, the appeals court reversed the judgment and sent the case back.
Ralph Carusone was found guilty of murder in 2007 following a 2006 physical altercation and stabbing death of Derek Rininger outside Rininger’s home near Cincinnati. Carusone unsuccessfully challenged his conviction in the appeals court and in the Ohio Supreme Court. In 2012, he asked the trial court to allow him to file a motion for a new trial under Criminal Rule 33, which outlines the grounds for granting a new trial including the discovery of new evidence. The trial court overruled his Crim.R. 33(B) motion for leave to file a motion for a new trial.
In the appeals court’s unanimous decision, authored by Judge Sylvia S. Hendon, she noted that the decision to grant leave hinges on whether the defendant was “unavoidably prevented from discovering the evidence” within the 120-day deadline and whether the defendant’s motion for leave includes evidentiary material that demonstrates unavoidable prevention.
“Based on the record before us, we conclude that Carusone established, at the very least, an entitlement to an evidentiary hearing on his motion, and that the common pleas court, in failing to conduct such a hearing, abused its discretion,” she wrote.
“Carusone sought a new trial on the ground that newly discovered evidence demonstrated that he is actually innocent of felony murder and that he had been denied a fair trial by the state’s violation of its duty to disclose that evidence in discovery,” Judge Hendon continued. “The alleged fair-trial violation also underlay his assertion, in support of his motion for leave, that he had been unavoidably prevented from timely discovering that evidence.”
Among the “newly discovered evidence” Carusone submitted was a pathology expert’s affidavit, based on his review of all the evidence in the case including undisclosed portions of a hospital report, that Rininger died of cardiac arrest brought on by drugs and alcohol and physical exertion, not the stab wound.
Judges Penelope R. Cunningham and Patrick F. Fischer joined the opinion.
State v. Carusone, 2013-Ohio-5034
Criminal Appeal From: Hamilton County Common Pleas Court
Judgment Appealed From Is: Reversed and Remanded
Date of Judgment Entry on Appeal: November 15, 2013
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