CRIMINAL APPEAL FROM BUTLER COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No. CR2012-04-0614
Michael T. Gmoser, Butler County Prosecuting Attorney, Michael A. Oster, Jr., Governmen for plaintiff-appellee
Charles M. Conliff, for defendant-appellant
M. POWELL, J.
(¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Sean Bryan Matthews, appeals his convictions in the Butler County Common Pleas Court for criminal child enticement, gross sexual imposition, and public indecency. For the reasons stated below, we affirm the convictions.
(¶ 2} On April 26, 2012, appellant was indicted on one count of criminal child enticement in violation of R.C. 2905.05 as to N.F., an 11-year-old boy (Count One), one count of criminal child enticement in violation of R.C. 2905.05 as to W.B., a 13-year-old boy (Count Two), one count of criminal child enticement in violation of R.C. 2905.05 as to T.W., an eight-year-old boy (Count Three), one count of criminal child enticement in violation of R.C. 2905.05 as to N.W., a 10-year-old boy (Count Four), one count of gross sexual imposition in violation of R.C. 2907.05(A)(4) as to N.W. (Count Five), and one count of public indecency in violation of R.C. 2907.09(A)(1) as to N.W. (Count Six). The criminal child enticement charges arose out of allegations that, on separate occasions from October 2011 until March 2012, appellant attempted to coax or entice the victims into a vehicle in Hamilton, Butler County, Ohio. The gross sexual imposition and public indecency charges arose out of allegations that appellant touched N.W.'s penis and exposed his penis to N.W.
(¶ 3} In June 2012, appellant moved to suppress statements he made to detectives while under arrest as well as the pretrial photo-identification of appellant by N.W. and W.B. Appellant also sought to sever the six counts of the indictment into three trials. After a hearing held July 18, 2012, the trial court denied all three motions.
(¶ 4} Consequently, on August 3, 2012, appellant entered no contest pleas on all six counts of the indictment. Appellant was found guilty of all counts and sentenced to 180 days for each criminal child enticement conviction, 48 months for the gross sexual imposition conviction, and 30 days for the public indecency conviction, all sentences to be served concurrently with one another.
(¶ 5} From his convictions, appellant appeals, raising three assignments of error.
(¶ 6} Assignment of Error No. 1:
(¶ 7} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED TO THE PREJUDICE OF APPELLANT BY OVERRULING HIS MOTION TO SUPPRESS STATEMENTS MADE DURING A CUSTODIAL INTERROGATION.
(¶ 8} In his first assignment of error, appellant argues the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress, thereby admitting statements detectives obtained in violation of appellant's constitutional right against self-incrimination. Essentially, appellant contends that his constitutional rights were violated when he was questioned by detectives without having waived his Miranda rights and the trial court deemed these statements admissible. See Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602 (1966).
(¶ 9} "An appellate court's review of a motion to suppress presents a mixed question of law and fact." State v. Gray, 12th Dist. Butler No. CA2011-09-176, 2012-Ohio-4769, ¶ 15, citing State v. Burnside, 100 Ohio St.3d 152, 2003-Ohio-5372, ¶ 8. "When considering a motion to suppress, the trial court assumes the role of trier of fact and is, therefore, in the best position to resolve factual questions and evaluate the credibility of witnesses." Id.; State v. Bird, 12th Dist. Butler No. CA2002-05-106, 2003-Ohio-2541, ¶ 9; State v. Mills, 62 Ohio St.3d 357, 366 (1992). Consequently, an appellate court may not disturb a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress where it is supported by substantial, credible evidence. Bird at ¶ 9; State v. McNamara, 124 Ohio App.3d 706, 710 (4th Dist.1997). "Accepting these facts as true, the appellate court must independently determine, without deference to the trial court, whether the trial court's conclusions of law are correct." Gray at ¶ 15, citing Bird at ¶ 9.
(¶ 10} "It is well-established that before law enforcement officials question a suspect in custody, the suspect must be advised of his Miranda rights and make a knowing and intelligent waiver of those rights before any statements obtained during the interrogation will be admissible as evidence." State v. Hernandez-Martinez, 12th Dist. Butler No. CA2011-04-068, 2012-Ohio-3754, ¶ 8, citing State v. Treesh, 90 Ohio St.3d 460, 470, 2001-Ohio-4. However, "the duty to advise a suspect of constitutional rights pursuant to Miranda * * * arises only when questioning by law enforcement rises to the level of a custodial interrogation." In re J.S., 12th Dist. Clermont No. CA2011-09-067, 2012-Ohio-3534, citing In re J.B., 12th Dist. Butler No. CA2004-09-226, 2005-Ohio-7029, ¶ 53. Miranda defines custodial interrogation as any "questioning initiated by law ...