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State v. Beggs

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Delaware

August 6, 2013

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
DEREK BEGGS Defendant-Appellant

Appeal from the Delaware Municipal Court, Case No. 12-CRB-01984 and 12-CRB-02227

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

For Defendant-Appellant DOMINIC J. VITANTONIO Argie, D'Amico & Vitantonio

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

OPINION

Baldwin, J.

{¶1} Appellant Derek Beggs 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} Appellant, a deputy with the Delaware County Sherriff's Department, arrived on the scene with his coworker, Deputy Christopher Hughes. Trooper Sean Carpenter of the Ohio State Highway Patrol later arrived on the scene. When appellant discovered the truck, it 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. Appellant commented to Carpenter 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 deputies did not identify Popoca at the scene. They 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 Carpenter 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 tried to communicate 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. Appellant radioed that Hughes would be transporting his "new amigo" to Taco Bell. Appellant told the officer who translated for Popoca that Popoca still did not understand what was going on.

{¶5} 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 in the restaurant in his intoxicated state, and locked the lobby early to keep him outside so he would not disrupt customers.

{¶6} 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, where he stayed for approximately fifteen minutes before leaving and driving in the direction of the police station.

{¶7} 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. Appellant texted the corrections officer who provided the translation for Popoca to not talk about the situation at work because the man was later struck and killed.

{¶8} Appellant was charged with two counts of dereliction of duty in violation of R.C. 2921.44(A)(2). Deputy Hughes and Trooper Carpenter were also charged with dereliction of duty. Hughes pled guilty prior to trial. Appellant and Carpenter 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:

{¶9} "I. THE VERDICT OF GUILTY ON THE CHARGE OF DERELICTION OF DUTY, FOR ALLEDGEDLY NEGLIGENTLY FAILING TO APPREHEND AN OFFENDER, IS NOT SUSTAINED BY SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE.

{ΒΆ10} "II. THE VERDICT OF GUILTY ON THE CHARGE OF DERELICTION OF DUTY, FOR ALLEGEDLY NEGLIGENTLY FAILING TO PREVENT OR HALT THE COMMISSION OF THE OFFENSE OF DISORDERLY ...


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