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State of Ohio v. Ryan R. Barker

November 8, 2011


APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. (C.P.C. No. 09CR-07-4388)

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

Cite as State v. Barker,



{¶1} Defendant-appellant, Ryan R. Barker ("appellant"), appeals the judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, which denied his motion to suppress. For the following reasons, we affirm.

{¶2} Appellant was indicted on one count of receiving stolen property after stolen golf clubs were found in his truck during a traffic stop executed by Columbus Police Sergeant Brian Donovan. Appellant filed a motion to suppress that evidence, on grounds that he was unconstitutionally stopped, and the trial court held a hearing on the motion. Donovan testified as follows at the hearing. Donovan was traveling southbound on Indianola Avenue on June 4, 2009. The driver of a truck in front of him, in the same lane of travel, veered right onto East 16th Avenue without using a turn signal. Indianola and East 16th Avenues connect at a " 'Y' " intersection, and there is no traffic control device to regulate traffic driving onto East 16th Avenue. (Dec. 10, 2009, Tr. 11.) Donovan believed that the traffic code required the driver of the truck in front of him to use a turn signal and that the signal would have given others notice that the truck was changing course instead of continuing on Indianola Avenue.

{¶3} Donovan stopped the truck, and he came in contact with the driver, who was appellant. Donovan discovered that appellant was driving with a suspended license. The two passengers in the truck did not have licenses either, so the vehicle needed to be impounded. Donovan found a set of golf clubs while he was impounding the truck. The name tag on the clubs did not match appellant or the two passengers. Therefore, Donovan impounded the golf clubs with the truck. Donovan issued appellant a traffic citation, and appellant left with his friends.

{¶4} The trial court concluded that the traffic stop Donovan executed on appellant was constitutional. Accordingly, the court denied appellant's motion to suppress. Afterward, appellant pleaded no contest to receiving stolen property, and the court sentenced him to community control.

{¶5} Appellant appeals, raising the following assignment of error:

The Trial Court erred to the prejudice of the Appellant when it overruled Appellant's Motion to Suppress Evidence.

{¶6} In his single assignment of error, appellant argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress. We disagree.

{¶7} When presented with a motion to suppress, the trial court assumes the role of the trier of fact. State v. Mills (1992), 62 Ohio St.3d 357, 366. Thus, the trial court is in the best position to resolve questions of fact and evaluate witness credibility. State v. Burnside, 100 Ohio St.3d 152, 2003-Ohio-5372, ¶8. On review, we must accept the trial court's factual findings if they are supported by competent, credible evidence. State v. Stokes, 10th Dist. No. 07AP-960, 2008-Ohio-5222, ¶7. Accepting those facts as true, we must then independently determine, as a matter of law and without deference to the trial court's conclusion, whether the court applied the correct law and whether the facts meet the applicable legal standard. State v. Coger, 10th Dist. No. 10AP-320, 2011-Ohio-54, ¶10.

{¶8} In his motion to suppress, appellant asserts that evidence found during the traffic stop executed by Donovan could not be used against him at trial because the stop was unconstitutional. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Section 14, Article I of the Ohio Constitution prohibit unreasonable seizures of persons or property. State v. Mays, 119 Ohio St.3d 406, 2008-Ohio-4539, ¶7. A police officer's temporary detention of an individual during a traffic stop, even if only for a brief period and for a limited purpose, constitutes a seizure. Stokes at ¶8. Therefore, in order to meet constitutional limitations, the detention must be reasonable under the circumstances. Whren v. United States (1996), 517 U.S. 806, 809-10, 116 S.Ct. 1769, 1772.

{ΒΆ9} Donovan stopped appellant for failing to use his turn signal as he veered onto East 16th Avenue from Indianola Avenue. Plaintiff-appellee, the state of Ohio, asserts that appellant violated Columbus City Code 2131.14(a), which states that "[n]o person shall turn a vehicle or move right ...

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