Criminal appeal from Common Pleas Court, T.C. NO. 11CR3267/2
MICHELE D. PHIPPS, Atty. Reg. No. 0069829, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee.
WILLIAM O. CASS, JR., Atty. Reg. No. 0034517, Attorney for Defendant-Appellant.
(¶ 1} This is an appeal from the judgment of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. Appellant, Dion Collins, challenges his conviction for possession of heroin as based on insufficient evidence and against the manifest weight of the evidence. For the following reasons, we affirm.
A. Facts and Procedural Background
(¶ 2} Around 10:00 a.m. on the morning of the incident, Dayton Police Officer Kim Pittl, received a dispatch reporting shots fired and three to four black males running towards 3913 Alvin Avenue in Dayton. When Pittl responded to the scene, she noticed three black males who she believed were loading something into the trunk of a parked car. As she approached, two of the suspects fled in opposite directions. Pittl apprehended the third suspect, Brandon Hasley, forced him to the ground, and handcuffed him. Pittl also observed a fourth person, Collins, in the front passenger seat of the car. Pittl held Collins, who is paralyzed from the waist down, at gunpoint until other officers could arrive to help secure the scene.
(¶ 3} Hasley was placed into the back of Pittl's cruiser on the driver's side, and was interviewed by another officer. Meanwhile, Pittl helped Collins into his wheelchair, and moved him to the lawn, near the car. Collins was not handcuffed at the time. Around the same time, one of the fleeing suspects had been apprehended, and was discovered to have been in possession of eleven clear gel heroin capsules. Pittl took custody of the capsules and placed them in her pocket.
(¶ 4} Once it was determined that Hasley did not have any outstanding warrants, and did not have any weapons, he was released. Pittl testified that she then inspected the back of her cruiser for approximately five to ten seconds on each side, and did not observe any contraband.
(¶ 5} Pittl subsequently arrested Collins for criminal trespassing, placed him in the back of her cruiser on the passenger's side, and handcuffed him with his hands in front of his body. He remained there while Pittl executed a search of the residence. Pittl then transported Collins to the safety building where she assisted him into his wheelchair, locked the cruiser, and took him inside to be processed.
(¶ 6} Pittl testified that when she returned to her cruiser, she noticed a single heroin capsule on the floorboard in the back on the passenger's side, near where the seat meets the floor. She testified that she had not noticed the capsule when she was assisting Collins out of the cruiser. Upon this discovery, Collins was additionally charged with possession of heroin.
(¶ 7} Thereafter, Collins moved to suppress the heroin capsule, arguing that the initial stop constituted an unreasonable seizure. A hearing was held, after which the trial court denied the motion. The matter then proceeded to a bench trial, at which both Pittl and Collins testified. The ...