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State v. Burke

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth District

June 27, 2013

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MARK A. BURKE, Defendant-Appellant.

Eric E. Willison, Columbus, Ohio, for appellant.

Paul G. Bertram, III, Marietta City Law Director, and Daniel Everson, Marietta City Assistant Law Director, Marietta, Ohio, for appellee.

DECISION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY

Per Curiam

{¶1} Following a bench trial, the court found Mark Burke guilty of disobeying the instructions of a traffic control device while driving a vehicle. The court implicitly found Burke disobeyed the instructions for a stop sign because he failed to stop at a clearly marked stop line when he approached the sign. Burke contends his conviction is against the manifest weight of the evidence. We agree. The record contains no evidence there was a stop line at the location at issue. Even if there was a stop line, which Burke arguably appears to concede, there is no evidence about the location of his vehicle in relation to the line at any time. Thus, we reverse Burke's conviction. This decision renders his other arguments moot.

I. Facts

{¶2} Burke pleaded not guilty to a charge of disobeying the instructions of a traffic control device, i.e., a stop sign, while driving a vehicle, in violation of R.C. 4511.12. At a bench trial, Trooper Eric Knowlton with the Ohio State Highway Patrol testified that while on patrol in Washington County, he saw a vehicle stopped at a stop sign on Market Street and saw a second vehicle stopped behind the first vehicle. As he approached the intersection, both vehicles "came out together and made a left turn." In other words, the second vehicle did not come to a complete stop at the stop sign after the first vehicle proceeded into the intersection. Burke was driving the second vehicle.

{¶3} Burke testified that he stopped behind a truck at the stop sign. He did not enter the intersection until the truck turned and exited the intersection. Burke claimed he came to a separate, complete stop at the sign after the truck pulled out. Burke explained: "I hesitated while the truck started out of the intersection. Then I was back from the white bar a little bit, after my hesitation stopped. I was back from that white bar. So what [the trooper] saw was me pulling up to that white bar and taking another look. I'm already stopped. I'm pulling up to the white bar, after I'm stopped, and the truck cleared the intersection, and I looked to the right and I looked to the left, and I said I have enough time to get out without causing an accident."

{¶4} The court issued a decision and specifically found that "there is a stop line on Market Street." The court found "beyond a reasonable doubt that [Burke] did fail to stop as required by [R.C] 4511.12 before entering the intersection." After sentencing, Burke filed this appeal.

II. Assignments of Error

{¶5} Burke assigns the following errors for our review:

I. The Trial Court Erred When Convicting Defendant When There Was Uncontradicted Evidence that Defendant Did Stop at the Stop Sign.
II. The Trial Court Erred in Conducting an Ex Parte Investigation of the Scene.
III. The Trial Court Erred in Concluding that there was Evidence Beyond a Reasonable Doubt that Defendant ...

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