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State of Ohio v. Edward Lamale Taylor

October 21, 2011

STATE OF OHIO
APPELLEE
v.
EDWARD LAMALE TAYLOR
APPELLANT



Trial Court No. CR0200903115

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

Cite as State v. Taylor,

DECISION AND JUDGMENT

{¶1} Appellant appeals his conviction for carrying a concealed weapon, entered on a finding of guilty after a no contest plea in the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

{¶2} In the early morning hours of August 27, 2009, on a street near the University of Toledo, a university police officer timed appellant, Edward Lamale Taylor, exceeding the speed limit by 20 miles per hour. The officer stopped appellant and, on approaching the van appellant was driving, noted a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage from inside. The officer also observed that appellant's speech was slurred and his eyes glassy.

{¶3} The officer asked appellant to exit his vehicle and perform a series of field sobriety tests upon which appellant performed poorly. The officer arrested appellant for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

{¶4} Police impounded appellant's van, but, in conformity with university police policy, conducted an inventory search of the vehicle before it was towed. Under the van's passenger seat, police found a laptop computer bag containing a loaded .44 caliber revolver wrapped in a plastic grocery bag.

{¶5} On November 4, 2009, the Lucas County Grand Jury named appellant in a single count indictment for carrying a concealed weapon in violation of R.C. 2923.12(A)(2) and (F), a fourth degree felony. Appellant entered a plea of not guilty and moved to suppress the gun found in the warrantless search of his van, arguing that the initial vehicle stop was pretextual and the subsequent search without warrant or consent.

{¶6} The court conducted a hearing on the suppression motion at which officers testified to the reason for the traffic stop, appellant's OVI arrest and the discovery of the handgun. Introduced by the state in the hearing was also the university police's written policy on an inventory search.

{¶7} Appellant conceded in his post-hearing argument that police may constitutionally conduct an inventory search if such a search is in conformity with a written standard. See Florida v. Wells (1990), 495 U.S. 1, 4. Nevertheless, appellant argued, the written policy only permitted a search of a closed container "prior to securing the trunk" of the vehicle. Since the van at issue technically had no trunk, appellant insisted, the rule was at least ambiguous and should be construed against the state.

{¶8} When the trial court denied appellant's motion to suppress, appellant elected to withdraw his not guilty plea and instead pled no contest to the indictment. The court accepted his plea, found him guilty and sentenced him to a 17 month term of imprisonment. It is from the judgment of this conviction that appellant brings this appeal.

{¶9} Appellant sets forth the following single assignment of error:

{ΒΆ10} "Appellant's conviction for carrying a concealed weapon was not supported by the substantial weight of the evidence, obtained through prosecutorial misconduct and/or due to the ineffective assistance of counsel where the testimony at the suppression hearing ...


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