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State of Ohio v. Kimberly Keller

October 28, 2011

STATE OF OHIO
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
KIMBERLY KELLER
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



(Criminal appeal from Common Pleas Court) T.C. NO. 09CR4151

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

Cite as

State v. Keller,

OPINION

{¶1} After the trial court overruled her motion to suppress evidence, Kimberly Keller pled no contest to possession of crack cocaine, a fifth degree felony. The trial court found her guilty and sentenced her to five years of community control. Keller appeals from her conviction, claiming that the trial court erred in denying her motion to suppress. For the following reasons, the trial court's judgment will be affirmed.

I

{¶2} At the suppression hearing, the State presented the testimony of Detectives David House and Douglas Hall, both of whom were assigned to the Narcotics Unit of the Dayton police department. Their testimony established the following facts.

{¶3} At approximately 7:50 p.m. on December 9, 2009, Detective House was "proactively" patrolling "high drug areas" of the city in an unmarked police car. When he came to a red light at the intersection of Free Pike and Gettysburg Avenue, he stopped behind a white GMC Envoy with out-of-county license plates. Because House was aware that many individuals from outside of Montgomery County come to that area of Dayton to purchase illegal drugs, House ran the license plate through his on-board computer system.

{¶4} The computer indicated that the vehicle was registered to Kimberly Keller, and there was a description of Keller. The officer learned that Keller had two prior drug-related "field interviews" with the Dayton police, that she was an admitted prostitute and crack addict, that she had a drug conviction in 2003, and that, also in 2003, she had been "nuisance abated" from an apartment where crack cocaine, crack pipes, and a handgun had been found. When the Envoy turned southbound onto Gettysburg, House saw that the driver matched Keller's description. House decided to follow the Envoy.

{¶5} After a few miles, Keller's vehicle turned into a residential neighborhood where House had made numerous arrests related to vehicle-to-vehicle drug transactions. After two quick left turns, the Envoy pulled to the right side of the street, parked, and turned off its lights. House saw the passenger door open and a man, later identified as John Dixon, exit the Envoy. House drove past the Envoy, turned around at the next street, and parked along the curb, facing Keller's vehicle. Although House did not observe Dixon get back into the Envoy, it appears that Dixon got into the driver's seat of the Envoy while House was turning around.

{¶6} Within a couple of minutes, a black Mercedes pulled to the curb and parked in front of the Envoy; the driver of the Mercedes got out and went into a residence. (Detective House did not believe the driver of the Mercedes was involved in any unlawful activity.) Almost immediately after the Mercedes parked, the Envoy pulled away from the curb and circled the block. When the Envoy approached the same intersection where it had previously parked, the Envoy again pulled to the curb and turned off its headlights; the occupants remained in the vehicle. Detective House passed the Envoy, crossed the intersection, and pulled into a driveway a few houses away from the Envoy.

{¶7} Within a few minutes, a white Yukon approached the Envoy from the opposite direction. The Yukon pulled to the curb directly across from the Envoy and turned off its lights. Dixon exited the driver's seat of the Envoy, closed the door, walked around the front of the Yukon, and got into the front passenger seat of the Yukon. Detective House could not see what occurred inside the Yukon. However, after approximately one minute, Dixon got out of the Yukon and back into the driver's seat of the Envoy, and he drove off. The Yukon also drove away.

{¶8} House testified that the Envoy's and Dixon's behavior were "very consistent with narcotic transactions of this type that I've observed again on numerous occasions."

Earlier that day, House had also received a complaint from an identified resident about vehicle-to-vehicle drug transactions that she had observed in the neighborhood; the resident lived two ...


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