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State of Ohio v. Deangelo Freeman

November 3, 2011

STATE OF OHIO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
DEANGELO FREEMAN DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-527332

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Melody J. Stewart, P.J.:

Cite as State v. Freeman,

JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

JUDGMENT:

AFFIRMED

BEFORE: Stewart, P.J., Sweeney, J., and Rocco, J.

{¶1} This case is one of three criminal appeals originating from the same series of events.*fn1

{¶2} Defendant-appellant, Deangelo Freeman, appeals from the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress and asserts that there was no probable cause to support the search and seizure resulting in his convictions, and that exigent circumstances were concocted by law enforcement officials. Freeman additionally claims that his convictions are against the manifest weight of the evidence, and that the trial court erred when it imposed consecutive sentences absent requisite findings pursuant to R.C. 2929.13(E).

{¶3} On February 28, 2008, the detectives from the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office observed and then arrested an individual for participating in a drug transaction. In lieu of proceeding with criminal charges against him, the sheriff's office elected instead to solicit and secure his cooperation as a confidential informant ("CI"). The CI provided information stating that he had purchased ecstasy from Freeman (a.k.a "Alo") at a certain address on several instances. The detectives and the CI proceeded to that address where they observed a black Cadillac Escalade parked in front of the residence. The CI informed them that the vehicle was associated with the residence. The detectives then decided to utilize the CI to stage a controlled drug buy.

{¶4} The CI placed a recorded call to Freeman to arrange the purchase of a "jar" (100 pills) of ecstasy at the targeted address. The CI was searched and then provided with "buy" money, a recording device, and code words to signal that the drug deal had been accomplished. The residence was placed under surveillance by the detectives. A co-defendant, Lashawn Atkinson, exited the residence, entered the black Cadillac, and drove away. The detectives followed him and when Atkinson failed to observe a stop sign, the detectives made a traffic stop. Atkinson was subsequently arrested for driving under suspension, and the search incident to arrest found him to be in possession of a firearm, four tablets of Viagra, and $2,216 in cash.

{¶5} The stakeout at the target address resumed, and the CI proceeded to the residence and knocked on the front door but no one answered. He made another recorded call to Freeman, who advised the CI that his acquaintance, Atkinson, had moments ago been arrested and that a vehicle matching the description of the undercover car utilized in the arrest was parked down the street from the target residence. After a brief conversation, Freeman and co-defendant Deondray Creighton arrived at the residence. They parked in the driveway, met with the CI, then the three entered the residence.

{¶6} The detectives monitored conversations between Freeman and the CI, and after the CI uttered the predetermined code words, the detectives proceeded to the front and perimeter of the home to arrest the occupants upon their exit. Freeman opened the front door then abruptly slammed and secured it after realizing that law enforcement was on the front porch. The detectives overheard a flurry of commotion inside the residence and interpreted it to be related to the destruction of evidence, since they also heard a command to "flush it" via their electronic wire. The detectives testified that concerns for the CI's safety, as well as the potential destruction of evidence, prompted them to forcibly enter the residence through an adjacent front porch window. Upon gaining entry, they encountered Freeman and the CI near the stairs leading to the second floor, and Creighton seated on the toilet of an upstairs bathroom. The detectives hurried to the basement of the dwelling and fractured the sewer system's soil stack in an attempt to retrieve drugs they believed to have been flushed, but no drugs were recovered

{¶7} Freeman and Creighton were patted down and arrested, and the "buy" money supplied to the CI was found in Freeman's pants pocket. The detectives deceptively informed Freeman that ecstacy pills had in fact been retrieved and that DNA testing would validate his possession of the drugs. Freeman verbally acknowledged that they were probably correct. The CI was searched and had no drugs on him. The detectives conducted a protective sweep of the premises and discovered two marijuana "grow" labs in plain view. The detectives then obtained a search warrant.

{ΒΆ8} The warrant search uncovered: (1) torn and intact plastic baggies; (2) three cell phones; (3) $420 from a couch console; (4) a loaded handgun with an extra magazine; (5) a gas bill for the residence in Atkinson's name; (6) an electric bill, foreclosure notice, and tax statement for the residence in Freeman's name; (7) a residential lease in Creighton's name; (8) a plastic baggie containing ecstasy; (9) Viagra pills; (10) 41 potted marijuana plants; (11) grow lights and pots; (12) ...


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