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State v. Carpenter

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Delaware

August 6, 2013

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
SEAN CARPENTER, Defendant-Appellant

Appeal from the Delaware Municpal Court, Case No. 12-CRB-01985 and 12-CRB-02229.

For Plaintiff-Appellee DANIEL J. BREYER Senior Assistant Attorney General.

For Defendant-Appellant SAMUEL H. SHAMANSKY DONALD L. REGENSBURGER COLIN E. PETERS KRYSTIN N. MARTIN.

JUDGES: Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P.J. Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J.

OPINION

BALDWIN, J.

{¶1} Appellant Sean Carpenter appeals a judgment of the Delaware Municipal Court convicting him of two counts of dereliction of duty in violation of R.C. 2921.44(A)(2) and fining him $500 on each count. Appellee is the State of Ohio.

STATEMENT OF FACTS AND CASE

{¶2} At approximately 9:00 p.m. on July 28, 2012, a number of travelers on Interstate 71 in Delaware County notified local law enforcement agencies of a reckless driver they believed to be intoxicated. The vehicle was a gray Ford F150 pickup truck. The truck was later determined to be driven by Uriel Juarez-Popoca, but it was not registered to Popoca.

{¶3} Derek Beggs, a deputy with the Delaware County Sherriff's Department, arrived on the scene with his coworker, Deputy Christopher Hughes. Appellant, a trooper with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, later arrived on the scene, after Popoca was out of the car. The truck was lodged between the guardrail and the guardwires in the median strip, apparently after the driver attempted a U-turn. There were multiple license plates in the vehicle and beer cans in the passenger compartment. The keys were in the ignition. Popoca was alone in the vehicle, and spoke little English. Beggs commented to appellant that Popoca was so drunk that when he hit Popoca with the light, Popoca looked at him "like, I'm so drunk, I don't know who you are."

{¶4} The officers did not identify Popoca at the scene. The deputies transmitted information to the dispatcher that the incident was a disabled vehicle, not a DUI case. A translator had been dispatched from the highway patrol, but appellant called off the translator, stating that the county deputies were handling the situation. A corrections officer with the Sherriff's Department who minored in Spanish in college spoke to Popoca by telephone. He communicated to Popoca that he needed to find a ride because he was not allowed to drive. Popoca had a friend named Christy who he could call for a ride. Deputy Hughes then transported Popoca to a nearby Taco Bell restaurant to await his ride. Beggs radioed that Hughes would be transporting his "new amigo" to Taco Bell. Shortly after Popoca was dropped off at Taco Bell, dispatch received a call from the manager that an intoxicated man was at the restaurant attempting to get someone to give him a ride to his truck on Interstate 71. The manager could smell alcohol on appellant. Because a teenager was working the front counter, the manager left her position on the food line and attempted to get Popoca out of the restaurant. Although he did not disturb people in the restaurant, the manager was concerned about his presence and locked the lobby early to keep him outside so he would not disrupt customers.

{¶5} Popoca left the Taco Bell and walked across the street to a Wendy's restaurant. When Deputy Hughes arrived at Taco Bell, the manager told him that Popoca went to the Wendy's across the street. She saw Hughes go to Wendy's for approximately fifteen minutes, then he left and drove in the direction of the patrol station.

{¶6} Popoca was later struck and killed by a motorist on Route 36/37, after walking a little over a mile from Wendy's. His blood alcohol level after his death was determined to be .23. The next day, appellant told Sgt. Marcus Pirrone that he did not get close enough to Popoca to determine if he was drunk, and the deputies took him and dropped him off at Taco Bell.

{¶7} Appellant was charged with two counts of dereliction of duty in violation of R.C. 2921.44(A)(2). Deputies Hughes and Beggs were also charged with dereliction of duty. Hughes pled guilty prior to trial. Appellant and Beggs were jointly tried before a jury. Appellant was convicted of both counts and fined $500 on each count. He assigns the following errors on appeal:

{ΒΆ8} "I. APPELLANT WAS CONVICTED OF VIOLATING A STATUTE THAT IS VAGUE IN BOTH ITS TERMS AND MEANING IN VIOLATION OF HIS RIGHTS AS GUARANTEED BY THE FIFTH AND FOURTEENTH ...


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