Gallipolis Man’s Rape Conviction Upheld

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The conviction of a Gallipolis man in the 2011 rape of an Ohio University student has been affirmed by the Fourth District Court of Appeals.

Levi Canterbury, 24, was convicted in August 2013 of two counts of rape and sentenced to seven years in prison. He was convicted after a jury found that he had knowingly engaged in sexual conduct with the OU woman who was “substantially impaired” at the time of the sexual contact, according to previous Messenger reporting.

The other rape charge stemmed from his use of force when raping the woman, a point of debate during his trial.

In a decision and judgment entry filed May 5, the Fourth District Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment against Canterbury.

In the appeal, public defender Eric Hedrick said the jury that convicted Canterbury was never able to presume his innocence because the prosecution “repeatedly” expressed personal beliefs and vouched for the credibility of the victim.
The appeals documents cite numerous times in the trial transcript in which they say prosecutors “asserted the legal conclusion” that Canterbury had raped the victim.

“During their initial and rebuttal closing arguments, the prosecutors stated their beliefs approximately 35 times that (Canterbury) was guilty of raping (the victim),” Hedrick wrote.

The defense attorneys for Canterbury were also at fault for the conviction, because they never objected to the prosecutors’ assertions or their vouching for the victim. The defense attorneys also never objected to the improper use of “expert” witnesses by the prosecution, Hedrick argued.

“Given the prejudicial impact of the State’s misconduct, there is a reasonable probability that, had defense counsel objected to the State’s misconduct, the outcome of the trial would have been different,” Hedrick concluded.

The opinion, written by administrative judge Matthew McFarland, stated that Canterbury was not denied effective assistance of counsel and that the prosecution’s conduct did not rise to the level of prosecutorial misconduct under a plain error standard of review. The court found no merit in the appellant’s assigned errors.

Judge Peter Abele concurred with the judgment and opinion, while Judge William Harsha concurred only with the judgment.
Canterbury is serving a seven year prison sentence in Chillicothe Correctional Institution.