Would his Destiny be Acquittal or Conviction?
“Cook’s testimony that David had whipped her as she protected A.D. was corroborated to some degree by the investigating officer’s testimony that he saw a welt on A.D’s elbow. Additionally, Cook’s testimony that David had choked her was corroborated by the photograph of the red marks on her neck and the testimony of the investigating officer who saw the marks. David’s explanation of those injuries was not compelling. Because David’s conviction was not against the manifest weight of the evidence, we overrule David’s first assignment of error.”.
State v. David
2021 – Ohio – 4004
First District Appellate Court
Hamilton County, Ohio
November 10, 2021
Mr. Clayton David was charged with domestic violence against Ms. Destiny Cook relating to an incident that occurred on the evening of Saturday February 20, 2021, at Ms. Cook’s house. At that time, Mr. David and Ms. Cook had been in a long-term romantic relationship and shared one child, A.D., a four-year-old daughter.
Ms. Cook testified that the incident began shortly after she returned to her house with A.D. They entered through the front door and expected to find an empty house because she and Mr. David had broken up and he was not supposed to be there. When she saw Mr. David on the stairs, she accused him of mistreating another one of her children. Mr. David “darted” down the steps and “attacked” A.D. Ms. Cook then dove atop A.D. to protect her. Mr. David began lashing Ms. Cook and A.D. with a leather belt. Ms. Cook tried to escape out the front door with A.D. but tripped. Mr. David then resumed the lashing and struck A.D.’s elbow, causing a welt where the metal buckle made contact with her body. When the attack stopped, Ms. Cook pretended the attack had not happened to avoid further harm.
After putting A.D. to bed in an upstairs bedroom and telling Mr. David she was not going to call the police, Ms. Cook seized an opportunity to go into the bathroom and quickly sent a text message to her sister, apparently alerting her to the situation. This is common where a victim does not want to call law enforcement directly as that would alert the abuser that officers are coming. Ms. Cook then went back downstairs and Mr. David followed her. When he caught up to her, Mr. David grabbed her and dragged her to the kitchen where he choked her with his hands until she lost consciousness. The choking left red marks on her neck.
Ms. Cook awoke lying on the floor and shaking. Mr. David helped her to her feet. Ms. Cook’s sister arrived, followed by the police, whom her sister had called. Ms. Cook did not seek medical attention for her injuries but showed the investigating police officer the marks on her neck and the welt on A.D.’s elbow. The police officer took a photograph of the marks on Ms. Cook’s neck, and that photograph was admitted into evidence during the officer’s testimony. While the officer did not photograph A.D.’s injury, he testified that he saw the welt.
Mr. David’s testimony contradicted that of Ms. Cook’s in many respects; one of which was truth. He said that on the night of the altercation, he and Ms. Cook were not completely broken up, as he had told her he would not move out of the house until he received his tax return. Further, he contended that Ms. Cook could not have entered through the front door of the house that evening, because he had latched the chain on the front door in addition to locking the door with a key. He believed in a series of coincidences. Based on sounds he heard – that Ms. Cook entered through a window and then tripped on furniture, potentially injuring her neck.
Mr. David additionally testified that he did not harm Ms. Cook or A.D. at all that evening. According to Mr. David, when he came downstairs to confirm it was Ms. Cook and A.D. who entered, he and Ms. Cook argued over his Facebook posts. Thinking that she was baiting him into doing something so she could call the police, he returned upstairs to play video games. Foregoing the competitiveness of playing video games, he eventually returned downstairs because Ms. Cook was “talking crazy” in front of A.D., accusing him of dragging Ms. Cook’s older child by the hair. When he took control of A.D. and asked her questions about the accusation, Ms. Cook “yanked” A.D. out of his hand and yelled at him. The arguing ended without a physical confrontation, and he returned upstairs. A short time later, Ms. Cook’s sister appeared, and the arguing restarted. Two or three minutes later, the police arrived.
After considering this evidence, the trial court found Mr. David guilty of committing domestic violence against Ms. Cook. Mr. David now appeals.
Mr. David contends that his conviction for domestic violence was against the manifest weight of the evidence. The offense of domestic violence is proscribed in pertinent part by R.C. 2919.25(A), which provides that “[N]o person shall knowingly cause or attempt to cause physical harm to a family or household member.” Mr. David argues Ms. Cook’s testimony that he harmed her was not credible. Based on Mr. David’s story about Ms. Cook’s residential window – neck injury, entry, he would be well positioned to recognize statements that were not credible.
The First District Appellate Court upheld Mr. Cook’s conviction as it held “Cook’s testimony that David had whipped her as she protected A.D. was corroborated to some degree by the investigating officer’s testimony that he saw a welt on A.D’s elbow. Additionally, Cook’s testimony that David had choked her was corroborated by the photograph of the red marks on her neck and the testimony of the investigating officer who saw the marks. David’s explanation of those injuries was not compelling. Because David’s conviction was not against the manifest weight of the evidence, we overrule David’s first assignment of error.”.
Information for this article was obtained from State v. David, 2021 – Ohio – 4004.
This case was issued by the First District Appellate Court which is only binding in Hamilton County, Ohio.
- Law enforcement should always photograph all injuries in alleged domestic violence assaults. This would include injuries by unintended victims. Here law enforcement did well to photograph the injuries to Ms. Cook but could have been better by photographing the injuries to the four-year-old A.D.’s elbow.
- David concocted a story about Ms. Cook’s entry to the home through a window and that is how she sustained a neck injury. This underscores why the initial investigation should always include photographs of the victim, injuries and location. The location of the alleged domestic violence can also be very important to document what the location looked like in the moment.
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