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State v. Hinton

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District

August 2, 2013

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
CHRISHANDA L. HINTON Defendant-Appellant

Criminal Appeal from Common Pleas Court Trial Court Case No. 12-CR-738

MATHIAS H. HECK, JR., MATTHEW T. CRAWFORD, Atty. Reg. #0089205, Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office, Appellate Division, Montgomery County Courts Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee.

LUCAS W. WILDER, Atty. Reg. #0074057, Attorney for Defendant-Appellant.



{¶ 1} Defendant-appellant Chrishanda L. Hinton appeals from her conviction and sentence, following a no-contest plea, for Possession of Heroin, in an amount equaling or exceeding one gram, but less than five grams, in violation of R.C. 2925.11(A), a felony of the fourth degree. Hinton contends that the trial court erred by overruling her motion to suppress evidence, upon the ground that it was obtained as the result of an unlawful search and seizure.

{¶ 2} We conclude that the trial court did not err in overruling Hinton's motion to suppress evidence. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is Affirmed.

I. The Stop, Search and Seizure

{¶ 3} Dayton Police Officer Mark Spiers was clearing a house alarm that had been triggered at 725 Homewood, in Dayton, at 1:30 p.m., at the end of February, 2012. Spiers was a 32-year police veteran, with 29 years on the Dayton Police Force, and 3 years on the Centerville Police Force before that. He had served in a drug unit for 8½ years during his time on the Dayton Police Force. Spiers was a uniformed police sergeant, supervising uniformed patrol officers. He was alone in his marked cruiser.

{¶ 4} A man pulled up in a vehicle alongside Spiers in his cruiser, and told Spiers that a drug transaction was taking place on Richmond Avenue, about 1½ blocks from the intersection of Richmond and Hammond. Spiers's current location was about "three or four doors" from that intersection. The man told Spiers that he had seen the same individual making numerous drug transactions in the past, and had reported it several times, but that every time uniformed police had arrived to investigate, the person was either gone, or back inside the house.

{¶ 5} The man described the seller as "a black female, short, but tends to dress as a male, short hair, " "wearing a white tee shirt and baggy jeans." The man said she was making a deal with "occupants of a gray minivan."

{¶ 6} Spiers did not wait to get the informant's name and identifying information, because he wanted to get to the scene of the suspected drug transaction in time to investigate and take appropriate action. After calling for backup, Spiers drove to the intersection and turned onto Richmond.

{¶ 7} As soon as Spiers turned onto Richmond, he could see a van about a block and a half down the street, matching the description, and he could see a person, later identified as Hinton, matching the description of the drug seller, with her hands inside the vehicle. The van was about five feet away from the curb, and Hinton was at the driver's window, so that she was standing at about the middle of the street. Spiers testified that "all of it, " meaning taking the report from the informant until he was in a position to see Hinton and the van, "took less than 30 seconds or so."

{¶ 8} As Spiers approached Hinton, she looked in his direction, saw him coming up the street, and immediately walked toward the sidewalk on the other side of Richmond from the van. The van pulled away. Later, however, the van returned.

{¶ 9} Spiers told Hinton to stop. He told her that he wanted to talk to her about standing in the middle of the street, a minor misdemeanor, and about a drug complaint.

{¶ 10} Spiers recognized Hinton, with whom he had dealt in the past on "drug activity type complaints." Spiers decided to pat Hinton down for weapons. He described the pat-down as follows:

I just use the palm of my hands. I don't manipulate anything. I just pat the outer side of her clothing to make sure there's no bulges, anything that could feel like it could be a weapon that could be used against me. Just to make sure that she had nothing in her waistband or her pants pockets.

{¶ 11} Spiers started the pat-down with Hinton's front pockets. He felt a baggie. At "about the same time, " Hinton told Spiers, "it's just weed, " referring to the baggie in her right front pocket.

{¶ 12} Spiers finished the pat-down, and then went to retrieve the baggie of marijuana. He described what happened next as follows:

Started to retrieve the marijuana. As I'm retrieving the marijuana from her pocket, there's a small coin pocket just above the right front pocket. During the pat-down, I didn't notice it. But as I was removing the bag of weed, I felt a hard irregular shaped object. I immediately recognized that to be chunked up illegal drugs, probably heroin.

{¶ 13} Spiers testified that he had made arrests with heroin before. On cross-examination, Spiers testified that the object in Hinton's coin pocket was the size of a marble.

{¶ 14} After seizing the heroin, Spiers arrested Hinton and advised her of her rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. ...

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