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State of Ohio v. Dorothy L. Spencer

December 21, 2012


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

Cite as State v. Spencer,



{¶1} Appellant, Dorothy Spencer, appeals her conviction in the Ross County Court of Common Pleas after she pled no contest to one count of aggravated robbery. Appellant's appellate counsel advised this Court that, after reviewing the record, she cannot find a meritorious claim for appeal. As a result, Appellant's counsel has moved to withdraw under Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 87 S.Ct. 1396 (1967). After independently reviewing the record, we find no merit to the sole assignment of error and further find no additional error prejudicial to the Appellant's rights in the trial court proceedings. Accordingly, this appeal is found to be without merit and wholly frivolous. Counsel's motion to withdraw is found well- taken and is, hereby, granted. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.


{¶2} On February 5, 2010, Appellant was indicted on one count of aggravated robbery, a first degree felony in violation of R.C. 2911.01. The indictment also contained a gun specification. On March 12, 2010, Appellant filed a motion to suppress her statements made to Detective Chris King. The motion to suppress hearing took place on April 6, 2010.

{¶3} At the suppression hearing, Detective King testified he went to Appellant's home on January 21, 2010, at East Main Street in Chillicothe, hoping to interview her regarding a crime which occurred at the Chillicothe Inn. No one answered Appellant's door, so he left his business card. Later that day, Appellant telephoned Detective King at the Law Enforcement Complex. Detective King explained that he wanted to speak to her about an incident he was investigating. A short time later, Appellant's boyfriend drove her to the police station. She arrived around 11:30 a.m.

{¶4} Detective King escorted Appellant to the interview room, which, according to his testimony, was eight or ten feet by ten feet. He was wearing his uniform, badge, and firearm. Appellant and Detective King were approximately two feet apart during the interview. Appellant sat at the end of a table and Detective King sat at the corner of the table closest to her.

{¶5} Detective King never told Appellant that she was in custody, that she was under arrest, that she could be arrested during the interview, or that she was free to leave the interview. He did recite her Miranda Rights to her and asked her if she understood those rights. Appellant indicated that she understood her Miranda Rights and that she was willing to waive them. Detective King acknowledges he did not provide Appellant with a copy of the Miranda Rights in written form.

{¶6} Detective King testified he had ample time to observe

Appellant's demeanor and physical condition during the interview. She had no difficulty walking and did not stumble or stagger. Detective King did not notice slurred speech. Appellant did not appear to have trouble understanding the questions or formulating answers. She did not seem confused. Detective King specifically testified Appellant presented no indicia of intoxication. Detective King acknowledged he never asked Appellant, before or during the interview, whether or not she was under the influence of any alcohol and/or drugs. Appellant did inform him she was under extreme stress due to financial issues.

{¶7} The interview lasted approximately two hours. Appellant took one smoke break and was accompanied the entire time by another detective. She also had one restroom break, however, Appellant never asked if she could leave. After the interview was concluded, Detective King advised Appellant he felt there was probable cause to believe she committed the crime of aggravated robbery, and he subsequently placed her under arrest.

{¶8} At the time of the suppression hearing, Detective King had worked as a detective for approximately one year. Prior to becoming a detective, he was on road patrol for four years. Detective King testified to approximately one hundred opportunities to observe different types of intoxication and impairment and perform field sobriety tests.

{¶9} At the suppression hearing, Appellant testified she had been up for three days smoking crack up until shortly before the time he knocked on her door. She stated: "I was in no condition to face any of them for anything," because she was "under the influence of crack cocaine." She stated at the time Detective King came to her apartment, a couple of friends were inside with her. Her friends were in possession of drugs and under the influence. They would not let her open the door. Appellant testified Detective King was "beating down the door," but he did not identify himself. Later she found his card lying on the floor, picked it up, and called him. Appellant eventually presented that same day to Detective King. She testified when he took her into the interview room, the "first thing out of his mouth was that I have been talking to your family and your daughter about your out of control crack problem...." Appellant next testified that she "vaguely" recalled Detective King reading her the Miranda Rights. Appellant further testified she felt like she was not allowed to leave once the interview started. She testified that she "couldn't think straight," and her mind was "blowed all apart" about (1) "being up there over something I did not do;" (2) "him telling my family that I was on crack...." She also testified she was bipolar with borderline personality disorder. Appellant also stated she was under the influence of prescription medications, including hydroxine and saphris. Appellant testified she felt she "had to tell him something to get out of there," and that Detective King told her when they were finished with the interview, she could go see her daughter.

{ΒΆ10} On May 4, 2010, the trial court overruled the motion to suppress, finding that Appellant did knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently waive her rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602 (1966). Appellant subsequently entered a plea of no contest with the understanding that she would be preserving her right to appeal the trial court's suppression ruling. The appeal is timely. ...

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