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State of Ohio v. andre A. Ward

December 24, 2012

STATE OF OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
ANDRE A. WARD, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Criminal Appeal from the Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 09 CR 774.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Timothy P. Cannon, P.J.

Cite as

State v. Ward,

OPINION

Judgment: Affirmed.

{¶1} Appellant, Andre A. Ward, appeals the judgment of the Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas after a jury found him guilty of failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer, a felony of the third degree, in violation of R.C. 2921.331(B) & (C)(1)(5)(a)(ii). For the following reasons, we affirm.

{¶2} At the jury trial, Officer Altier of the Liberty Township Police testified that he was parked in an apartment complex running surveillance in the vicinity of Belmont Avenue and Gypsy Lane in Liberty Township, Ohio, at approximately 8:00 p.m. on July 31, 2009. Office Altier observed a white Buick, driven by a black male, approaching with no front license plate. As the vehicle passed, Officer Altier was able to observe that the driver had a lean face; long, black, braided hair; and a tattoo of some type of writing on his neck. The driver of the vehicle turned and looked directly at Officer Altier as he passed the officer's vehicle.

{¶3} Officer Altier began to follow the vehicle to effectuate a traffic stop. As a result of running the vehicle's license plate, Officer Altier learned that it was registered to a female, Shalonda Hall, who lived in close proximity.

{¶4} Officer Altier pulled behind the vehicle and activated his overhead lights; although he initially thought the vehicle was going to stop, it continued eastbound down Gypsy Lane. During this time, Officer Altier testified that he was able to observe the reflection of the vehicle's driver through both his rearview and side mirrors: Officer Altier noted that when effectuating a traffic stop and pursuing a vehicle, he offsets his vehicle to gain a tactical advantage. At the intersection of Gypsy Lane and Fifth Avenue, the vehicle sped off southbound. As he was now following the vehicle out of his jurisdiction, Officer Altier requested backup from the Youngstown City Police Department. A chase ensued whereby the vehicle traveled approximately 80 miles per hour in a residential neighborhood. Due to safety concerns, Officer Altier terminated his pursuit of the vehicle.

{¶5} Officer Altier testified that he then drove past Ms. Hall's residence, but the vehicle was not in the parking lot. Officer Altier testified that for the next month he would periodically drive past Ms. Hall's residence looking for the vehicle. He observed the vehicle, with different plates, parked in the lot on August 31, 2009. Officer Altier called for a tow truck as the vehicle had been involved in a high speed chase. Noticing the tow truck, Ms. Hall exited the apartment building and began discussing the situation with Officer Altier. During their discussions, a man exited the building and began to walk towards Ms. Hall and Officer Altier. Officer Altier testified that he immediately recognized the male as the driver of the vehicle.

{¶6} Ms. Hall testified for the defense. She indicated that she was in Cleveland on the day of the incident and that she had left the keys to the Buick with her uncle. Ms. Hall could not recall the name or address of her uncle; she testified that she knew him only as "Uncle Junior." Ms. Hall described "Uncle Junior" as having tattoos and being bald.

{¶7} At the conclusion of the trial, appellant was found guilty of failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer. Appellant was sentenced to a three-year term of imprisonment.

{ΒΆ8} Appellant timely appealed and, as his first assignment ...


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