State v. Castorela-Sotela

[Cite as State v. Castorela-Sotela, 2018-Ohio-2655.] IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF OHIO SECOND APPELLATE DISTRICT MONTGOMERY COUNTY STATE OF OHIO : : Plaintiff-Appellee : Appellate Case No. 27522 : v. : Trial Court Case No. 16-CR-3467 : CESAR CASTORELA-SOTELA : (Criminal Appeal from : Common Pleas Court) Defendant-Appellant : : ........... OPINION Rendered on the 6th day of July, 2018. ........... MATHIAS H. HECK, JR., by ALICE B. PETERS, Atty. Reg. No. 0093945, Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office, Appellate Division, Montgomery County Courts Building, 301 West Third Street, 5th Floor, Dayton, Ohio 45402 Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee JUSTIN M. McMULLEN, Atty. Reg. No. 0088217, 4031 Colonel Glenn Highway, Suite 413, Beavercreek, Ohio 45431 Attorney for Defendant-Appellant ............. -2- HALL, J. {¶ 1} Cesar Castorela-Sotela appeals from his conviction and sentence on charges of rape, kidnapping, domestic violence, and disrupting public services. {¶ 2} In his sole assignment of error, Castorela-Sotela alleges that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial based on his attorney’s failure “to examine witnesses on issues of Victim’s credibility despite an unfavorable ruling in limine.” {¶ 3} The record reflects that the trial court sustained the State’s pretrial motion in limine “to exclude any mention of either [the victim or the defendant] being illegal aliens” (Trial Tr. at 12) or from examining the victim about a “U-visa,” which can be available to victims of certain crimes. It also precluded the defense from questioning two unspecified defense witnesses about knowledge of U-visas within the “out of status” Hispanic immigrant community. (Id. at 163, 165, 168). In short, the trial court concluded that any testimony related to the legal status of Castorela-Sotela or his wife, who apparently both are in the United States unlawfully, was “off limits.” (Id. at 175). {¶ 4} At trial, the State presented evidence that Castorela-Sotela had engaged in forcible sexual conduct with his wife in their bedroom. Following the incident, he went to the restroom, and his wife called 911 to report what had occurred. When Castorela-Sotela returned to the bedroom, he forcibly took his wife’s phone and disconnected the call. The State presented evidence that he then knocked his wife to the ground and restrained her when police arrived and knocked on the door. The police had responded to the “911 disconnect call.” (Id. at 400). After knocking on the door without response for what one officer testified was “five to ten minutes” (Id. at 424) and after confirming with the dispatcher that the 911 call had sounded like there had been a struggle in the background -3- before the disconnect, officers forced entry into the condominium. After about 30 seconds of officers calling out, the victim appeared from a back room. Eventually, after more orders, the defendant also appeared. The victim “was complaining of being struck in the face. She had a cut on the inside of her lip. There was deep bruising on the back -- on the left side of her ear. Bruising on her left arm, and bruising on ...

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