Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Cuyahoga County Rape Conviction Reversed

An appeals court has reversed and dismissed a man’s rape conviction and sentence because the statute of limitations had expired.

Roosevelt Martin and a codefendant were convicted in 2013 for a rape and kidnapping that happened on March 19, 1993 while the victim and the defendants were Cleveland Job Corps students. While the crime was reported to police, the victim never talked to police and didn’t return detectives’ phone calls. Police closed the case less than two weeks later.

Twenty years later, a rape kit was tested by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the DNA was matched to Martin. He was indicted on March 29, 2013 and later found guilty by a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court jury and sentenced to 5 to 25 years in prison. Martin raised several issues on an appeal to the Eighth District Court of Appeals, including that the indictment exceeded the 20-year limit for a rape offense.

There is a provision in R.C. 2901.13 that allows for the limitation time period to not run if the accused purposely tries to avoid prosecution.

In the majority opinion, appeals Judge Eileen T. Gallagher stated Martin’s actions, including returning to his home in Illinois after the police finished their investigation, “cannot be characterized as flight to avoid prosecution because the record is void of any attempt to contact him, let alone evidence of avoidance during the entire time the police conducted their investigation.”

She added that Martin was not a fugitive, and the statute of limitations tolled on the date of the crime and not when he returned to Illinois. That means Martin was indicted after the statute of limitations had expired.

Judge Melory Stewart concurred with the decision.

Judge Frank D. Celebreeze Jr. dissented and would have affirmed the trial court’s decisions in the case: “It is clear from the record that appellant left in order to evade any investigation and prosecution that would result from the heinous crime he committed on March 19, 1993.”

State v. Martin, 2015-Ohio-761
Criminal Appeal From: Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas
Judgment Appealed From Is: Reversed and dismissed
Date of Judgment Entry on Appeal: March 5, 2015

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