A 26-year-old Seville man convicted last year of molesting a 13-year-old girl said Wednesday the verdict should be reversed because his attorney failed to represent him properly.
Prosecutors said Steven E. Porter, of 91 High St., gave the girl alcohol after a wedding party in August 2011, and the girl’s brother woke up to find Porter molesting her.
In April last year, a jury found Porter guilty of gross sexual imposition, a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 1½ years in prison. Porter appealed his case to the 9th District Court of Appeals.
Medina County Common Pleas Judge James L. Kimbler sentenced Porter to a year in prison in June 2012 year, but stayed the sentence pending the outcome of Porter’s appeal. Kimbler also labeled Porter a Tier I sex offender, meaning he must register with the Sheriff’s Office annually for 15 years.
Kimbler recused himself from the case in March.
In Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier’s courtroom Wednesday, Porter’s new attorney Robert Meeker said his client was denied his Sixth Amendment right to assistance by counsel because his former attorney, David Sheldon, didn’t do all he could to represent him.
Meeker said Sheldon failed to call a DNA expert to the stand, neglected to call an essential witness, didn’t prepare Porter to be cross-examined by prosecutors and never pursued the possibility of a plea bargain.
Meeker said Wednesday’s hearing was largely to get Sheldon’s perceived failings on the record, since they never were brought up at trial.
Sheldon declined to comment Wednesday.
County Assistant Prosecutor Matt Razavi questioned the credibility of the DNA expert and said he never planned to offer Porter a plea deal anyway.
Collier said he wanted a chance to look over the transcript from the trial before he made any ruling.
Porter said he was innocent, but would have taken a plea deal if his charge had been reduced to a misdemeanor.
Razavi asked him why he would accept a conviction if he was innocent.
“I have a wife and four children,” Porter said. “I don’t want to be away from my family.”
Porter remains free on $25,000 bond.
Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.