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State v. Hollis

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District

June 17, 2013

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
MATTHEW HOLLIS, Defendant-Appellant

Appeal from the Richland County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2011CR0181 D.

For Appellant: ROBERT E. CALESARIC.

For Appellee: JAMES J. MAYER, JR. RICHLAND CO. PROSECUTOR JOHN C. NIEFT.

Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, P.J. Hon. W. Scott Gwin, J. Hon. John W. Wise, J.

OPINION

DELANEY, P.J.

{¶1} Appellant Matthew Hollis appeals from the January 3, 2012 decision of the Richland County Court of Common Pleas overruling his motion to suppress. Appellee is the state of Ohio.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

{¶2} The following facts are adduced from the indictment, bill of particulars and evidence presented by both parties at the hearings on appellant's motion to suppress.

{¶3} This case arose on September 12, 2010, a few minutes after midnight, when troopers of the Mansfield post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol were dispatched to a fatal traffic crash at the intersection of Reed Road and Route 30. Upon arrival, troopers discovered an overturned white Ford Ranger pickup truck in the median and a number of witnesses at the scene.

{¶4} Upon investigation, troopers discovered appellant had driven the pickup truck from Reed Road onto Route 30 at a high rate of speed, failed to negotiate a curve, lost control, left the roadway, overcorrected, and overturned the vehicle.

{¶5} In addition to appellant, the truck contained three passengers: Michelle Antonelli was in the right-front passenger seat, and Matthew Oprean and Allen Shirer were in the bed of the truck. Oprean and Shirer were ejected during the crash and landed in the roadway, exposed to oncoming traffic. Oprean was either killed during the crash, ejection, and impact, or was struck and killed by oncoming traffic; he was pronounced dead at the scene. Shirer and Antonelli sustained serious injuries.

{¶6} Troopers on the scene of the crash observed alcoholic beverage containers in and around the vehicle and the roadway, and detected an odor of an alcoholic beverage permeating the entire scene. The victims had already been transported by EMS, although appellant was briefly still present and spoke with a trooper who described him as "emotionally shooken up (sic)." Appellant was soon transported to MedCentral Hospital in Mansfield for treatment.

{¶7} Trooper Aaron Doerfler made contact with appellant in the MedCentral emergency room. Appellant was laying on a hospital bed covered with a blanket, and the trooper did not note any apparent visible injuries. He noticed the odor of alcohol about appellant's person and intended to read him the BMV 2255 form. Doerfler was unable to read the form, however, because appellant would not respond to his questions. Doerfler described appellant crying and wailing, conscious but unresponsive to Doerfler's questions and statements. Doerfler said he spent several minutes attempting to communicate with appellant, who said nothing or cried and "toss[ed] his head back and forth." Doerfler filled out the BMV 2255 but noted appellant was unable to sign because he was unresponsive.

{¶8} Doerfler testified that if appellant had been responsive, he would have read the 2255 form to him and asked him to submit to a blood test. Doerfler determined appellant was unresponsive and therefore asked a nurse to draw appellant's blood, providing her with a kit he kept in his patrol car for the purpose of chemical testing. The kit contained two vials for appellant's blood. The nurse drew the blood at 0154 hours and gave the vials to Doerfler, who sealed them with evidence tape. Both Doerfler and the nurse signed labels on the vials, Doerfler returned them to the kit, sealed it, and placed the kit in a mailbox outside the hospital at 0212 hours, addressed to the Ohio State Highway Patrol Crime Lab.

{¶9} Investigating troopers testified the decision was made to request the blood draw based upon "informed consent" and did not seek a search warrant for appellant's blood. Blood was also drawn for medical alcohol testing purposes by MedCentral personnel.

{¶10} Subsequent testing of appellant's blood samples by the Ohio State Highway Patrol Crime Lab and MedCentral Hospital Laboratory found a whole blood alcohol concentration of .197 grams by weight of alcohol per one hundred milliliters (grams percent) and a blood serum concentration of .239 grams by weight of alcohol per one hundred milliliters.

Indictment, Motion to Suppress, and Plea

{¶11} Appellant was charged by indictment with one count of aggravated vehicular homicide pursuant to R.C. 2903.06(A)(1)(a), a felony of the second degree; one count of aggravated vehicular homicide pursuant to R.C. 2903.06(A)(2), a felony of the third degree; two counts of aggravated vehicular assault pursuant to R.C. 2903.08(A)(1)(a), felonies of the third degree; two counts of aggravated vehicular assault pursuant to R.C. 2903.08(A)(2)(b), felonies of the fourth degree; one count of O.V.I. pursuant to R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(f), a misdemeanor of the first degree; one count of O.V.I pursuant to R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(c), a misdemeanor of the first degree; and one count of O.V.I pursuant to R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(a), a misdemeanor of the first degree.

{ΒΆ12} Appellant entered pleas of not guilty and filed a motion to suppress all evidence obtained from his arrest, including the chemical tests of his blood. A series of evidentiary hearings were held. Appellee conceded the hospital medical blood draw was not legally sufficient to support an indictment under R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(c) [plasma], but indicated its ...


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