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WARREN — A lawyer for David Honzu, convicted on five felony charges in a 2007 sexual assault on a woman, argued to an appeals court that Honzu was never found guilty on specifications that enhanced his sentencing.

Last month, a three-judge panel of the 11th District Court of Appeals heard arguments from the defense, including attorney Dennis Lager, on behalf of Honzu and from Assistant Prosecutor Ryan Sanders for the state.

David Honzu, 64, formerly of Warren, was labeled a sexual predator by the court and sentenced to three consecutive life sentences plus 60 years after being convicted by a Trumbull County jury of rape and kidnapping offenses connected to the 2007 assault of a Warren woman.

After the Trumbull County jury took less than 30 minutes last fall to convict Honzu, the verdict on all five felony rape charges was read aloud by then-presiding Common Pleas Judge Ronald Rice.

It’s during that reading that Honzu’s attorneys argued to the appeals court panel that Rice did not use the term guilty in relation to the sexually violent predator and repeat violent offender specifications attached to the three kidnapping and two rape counts decided by the jury.

Those specifications extended the prison term for Honzu, who was sentenced to serve 17-years-to-life in prison. Defense counsel argues, however, the court had “no jurisdictional authority” if no guilty finding was determined on prior convictions.

Appellate Court Judge Mary Jane Trapp pushed back on that notion.

“If the plain language of that statute says that, the court shall determine the issue of whether an offender is a repeat violent offender. If the trial court uses the precise statutory language, how can that be error?” she said.

Counsel responded by saying the statute indicates it’s the duty of the jury, not the trial judge, to determine guilt.

In arguing for the state, Sanders said the guilt of Honzu on the specifications was illustrated in court documents including the verdict forms and didn’t need the “magic words” to make that determination.

A decision on whether the defense counsel’s argument against the guilty finding on speficiations has not been made.


The victim of the 2007 sexual assault attack had told police that she was walking home from Powerhouse Bar the early morning of July 29, 2007, when she noticed Honzu following her.

The man pulled her from the street. He punched her numerous times in the face, threatening further physical harm, the report stated.

The woman told police she thought the man had a knife but admitted she did not see it. He forced her to perform a sex act. He attempted to force her to kiss him during the assault. She was held against her will until daylight.

According to a subsequent medical report, the woman went door to door attempting to get help before someone offered her a blanket and allowed her to call 911. She was taken to a hospital for multiple abrasions.

During trial, prosecutors argued Honzu had a history of committing offenses against children and adults.

“He is a nondiscriminating serial rapist,” said Assistant Prosectuor Gabriel Wildman.

Honzu was identified in 1995 as a sexual predator in connection to an assault of a 6-year-old boy.

In 2010, Honzu was charged with menacing by stalking of a 12-year-old girl.

A more recent conviction involved attempted abduction of an adult woman from a car wash in Champion. The woman managed to get out of the car and call police. Honzu was arrested several hours later by Warren police.

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