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State of Ohio v. Travis L. Moore

September 26, 2011



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hutzel, J.

Cite as

State v. Moore,


{¶1} Defendant-appellant, Travis L. Moore, appeals a decision of the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas denying his motion to suppress.

{¶2} On March 26, 2010, appellant was indicted on one count of theft in violation of R.C. 2913.02, a felony of the fifth degree. On July 2, 2010, appellant moved to suppress any statements he made while in police custody and any evidence obtained as fruit of those statements.

{¶3} At a suppression hearing, Deputy Eric J. Scott of the Fayette County Sherriff's Office testified on behalf of the state. His testimony revealed that on March 14, 2010, the Fayette County Sheriff's Office received a call around 3:15 p.m. from Prime One Mall Security regarding a theft complaint from the Old Navy Outlet store and dispatched him to investigate. Deputy Scott was told by dispatch that at least one black female and a black male departed the mall in a white Pontiac with an Ohio temporary vehicle registration and was given the registration number. Dispatch conveyed that the black male was of slender build and was wearing white tennis shoes and a red shirt.

{¶4} Deputy Scott located a vehicle matching the description near the mall traveling westbound on U.S. Route 35, before State Route 435, and conducted a traffic stop. A black male matching the description was in the back seat of the vehicle. He was of slender build, wearing white tennis shoes, and a red shirt was near his feet. Deputy Scott told everyone in the car why he stopped them, then told them that Old Navy was not going to file charges for the theft, but wanted their merchandise returned. Deputy Scott placed appellant, who was not handcuffed, in the back seat of his cruiser to question him. While appellant gave Deputy Scott inconsistent answers to questions posed, he continually denied any wrongdoing.

{¶5} Deputy Scott transported appellant in the back seat of his cruiser to the mall in order to further question him and watch the surveillance video from Old Navy. The other passengers and driver followed in the white Pontiac. When they returned to the mall, the driver of the white Pontiac rolled down her window, signaled Deputy Scott to come talk to her, and told him that appellant asked her to hold onto two bags. Deputy Scott testified that these were "the two bags * * * in question from the Old Navy store." Also, the driver indicated that while they were shopping, appellant asked for the keys to place some things in her car. The driver gave Deputy Scott written permission to search the entire vehicle. In the trunk, Deputy Scott found more merchandise that "nobody could provide any receipts for," including merchandise from the Coach store located at the mall.

{¶6} After discovering the additional merchandise, Deputy Scott asked mall security to contact the other stores to see if they wanted to pursue criminal charges. Deputy Scott obtained a written statement from the driver of the vehicle regarding what she had told Deputy Scott, then went back to his police cruiser and read appellant his Miranda rights. Appellant initialed beside each Miranda right, did not indicate he had any questions, did not request an attorney, and signed a written Miranda waiver. Deputy Scott then questioned appellant in the back of his cruiser for approximately ten minutes and appellant made a statement regarding the Coach merchandise.

{¶7} After the suppression hearing, the trial court overruled the motion to suppress, finding that the stop was based on reasonable and articulable suspicion, consent to search was obtained from the vehicle owner, Miranda waivers were appropriate, no threats or promises were made, and appellant's Miranda waiver was knowing, intelligent, and voluntary.

{¶8} On August 10, 2010, appellant entered a no contest plea. Appellant was subsequently sentenced to 16 days in the Fayette County Jail and two years of community control.

{¶9} Appellant appeals the trial court's overruling of his motion to suppress and raises two assignments of error.

{¶10} Before we address appellant's assignments of error, we must look at the appropriate standard for appellate review regarding a motion to suppress. Reviewing a motion to suppress involves a mixed question of fact and law. State v. Long (1998), 127 Ohio App.3d 328, 332. The trial court is in the best position to decide questions of fact and is able to evaluate witness credibility. State v. Baughman, 192 Ohio App.3d 45, 2011-Ohio- 162, ¶12. An appellate court must accept the trial court's findings of fact if supported by competent, credible evidence. Id. Then the appellate court reviews whether the trial court applied the appropriate legal standard as a matter of law, without ...

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