Antwan’s Wildbranch Home, in the Man Cave, or … with Cierra?
Ms. Polk’s testimony that Mr. Roland was her boyfriend and had lived with her for at least three months at the time of the offense was sufficient to prove he was a household member.
State v. Roland
2021 – Ohio – 4077
First District Appellate Court
Hamilton County, Ohio
November 17, 2021
In 2019 Mr. Fernando Roland pleaded guilty to Felony Domestic Violence. He was sentenced to three years of Community Control. The court informed Mr. Roland that if he violated conditions of community control, he would be sentenced to eighteen months in prison.
Ms. Cierra Polk testified that Mr. Roland lived with her from April or May 2020 until August 2020. On an unspecified date in August 2020, Ms. Polk left for work at 7 a.m. and was driven home later that day by a male coworker. On the way home, the coworker stopped at a store where she purchased a bottle of wine and a bottle of Long Island Iced Tea. When she arrived home, Mr. Roland repeatedly questioned her about the male coworker who brought her home. The two drank both bottles, so Mr. Roland went to the store to purchase more alcohol. Before he left, Ms. Polk had gone outside to sit in front of the building to get away from him.
When Mr. Roland returned from the store, he asked her to return to the apartment and assured her that he would not put his hands on her. When they reached the living room, he began hitting her on the back of her neck with an open hand. At some point, he took her phone. Ms. Polk went to bed, and, as she was lying in her bed, Mr. Roland dragged her out of the bed by her foot and started “stomping” on her chest, arms, face, back, and shoulders. After that, she lay unconscious on the floor. At about this time her neighbors called police. Ms. Polk did not realize she was injured until the police arrived.
Ms. Polk testified that she was lying on the ground when the police arrived. The police informed her that her lip was bleeding, and that there was blood on her pillow. The state introduced photographs taken by the police documenting a bloody lip, a scratch on her forehead, a swollen eye, and blood on her pillow.
On cross-examination, Ms. Polk testified that she would typically drink both bottles of alcohol, but that night, she shared the alcohol with Mr. Roland. They both consumed the third bottle that Mr. Roland bought. She admitted that she was intoxicated that night, and that the police statement she provided was difficult to read due to her intoxication.
Ms. Polk testified that Mr. Roland slept at her apartment every night and kept his clothing, toothbrush, shoes, jewelry, and other personal items at her home. About a month or two after Mr. Roland’s arrest, his mother came to the apartment and retrieved his belongings. Ms. Polk stated that they shared bills; she paid the rent, and he paid for the internet and cell phones. Ms. Polk also relayed a text conversation where Mr. Roland referred to her apartment as “home” and suggested that they purchase a mattress together. The text messages were admitted into evidence.
While in jail, Mr. Roland sent Ms. Polk two letters. In one letter, he expressed that he missed “waking up next to [her],” “looking at [her] sleep,” “watching [her] cook,” and walking in on her in the bathroom. Mr. Roland also affirmed that he still wished to marry her and buy her a car when he was released. Mr. Roland referred to himself as “her husband.”
Mr. Roland’s brother, Mr. Antwan Roland, who lived on Wildbranch Road in Hamilton, Ohio, testified that Mr. Roland had been living with him for about a year. Mr. Roland received mail at the home and his personal belongings, such as toothbrush, clothing, hats, shoes, PlayStation console, controllers, and games were there. Mr. Antwan Roland testified that Mr. Roland occasionally spent the night at Ms. Polk’s home, but primarily slept at the Wildbranch home. Ms. Polk spent many nights with Mr. Roland at the home.
Mr. Roland’s final witness was Mr. Johnny Gillard. Mr. Gillard and Mr. Roland coach their sons’ football team together. Mr. Roland accompanied Mr. Gillard once or twice a week to Mr. Gillard’s brother’s home, “the Man Cave,” with a group of men to have cocktails and play games. Occasionally, Ms. Polk would accompany Mr. Roland. Many times, Mr. Roland slept “at the Man Cave.” When he did not sleep there, Mr. Roland’s brother would pick him up from “the Man Cave.” Mr. Roland’s brother also picked him up after football.
The significant factor in this case is where did Mr. Roland live? The Ohio Revised Code § 2925S(F)(1)(a)(i) and § 2919.25(F)(2) defines a household member as “A person living as a spouse”, which is defined in pertinent part as “A person who is living or has lived with the offender in a common law marital relationship, who otherwise is cohabitating with the offender.”. If Mr. Roland could convince the court that he lived at his brother’s Wildbranch Road home or in the Man Cave, he could not be convicted of Domestic Violence. Because he was a Domestic Violence recidivist with eighteen months of prison time ‘on the shelf’, he had strong motivation to convince the court he did not live with Ms. Polk.
After taking the matter under advisement, the trial court found Mr. Roland guilty of domestic violence. After rendering the verdict, Mr. Roland pled no contest to the probation violations and was found guilty. The trial court sentenced him to twelve months in prison on the domestic-violence conviction and eighteen months in prison on the community-control violation. The court ordered the terms to be served consecutively.
Ms. Polk’s testimony that Mr. Roland was her boyfriend and had lived with her for at least three months at the time of the offense was sufficient to prove he was a household member. Ms. Polk’s testimony that Mr. Roland slapped her and kicked her in the face coupled with the photographic evidence of the cut and bloody lip was sufficient to prove that Mr. Roland caused physical harm. The natural, reasonable, and probable consequence of kicking Polk in the face was sufficient to establish his intent to cause physical harm.
Information for this case was obtained from State v. Roland, 2021 – Ohio – 4077.
Mr. Roland’s Ohio Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation link https://appgateway.drc.ohio.gov/OffenderSearch/Search/Details/A786907
- At every domestic dispute call, law enforcement must focus on many different factors. One is what the disputants say about who lives within the domicile. When the officers first arrived at this call for service the officers may not have known that Mr. Roland had prison time pending if he committed yet another act of domestic violence. Roland had every reason to dispute that he lived with Ms. Polk. Clearly the officer did well to document the statements made by the disputants and the prosecutors did well to get Ms. Polk’s text messages admitted into evidence.
- On the night of the assault the victim, Ms. Polk, was intoxicated. This was not a unique situation. Many times, all types of victims are impaired. This is a prime example as to why law enforcement must always document each incident with specificity and details so that all facts are documented at the time of the incident.
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Don’t let your training fail you!
Be safe, smart and Objectively Reasonable!