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State v. Wesley

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Jefferson

March 6, 2017


         Criminal Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Jefferson County, Ohio Case No. 14 CR 140

          For Plaintiff-Appellee Attorney Jane Hanlin Jefferson County Prosecutor

          For Defendant-Appellant Attorney Timothy Young Ohio Public Defender Attorney Eric Hedrick Asst. Public Defender

          JUDGES: Hon. Mary DeGenaro Hon. Gene Donofrio Hon. Cheryl L. Waite


          DeGENARO, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-Appellant, Jerek Wesley, appeals the trial court's judgment convicting him of multiple offenses and sentencing him accordingly. Wesley challenges the denial of his suppression motion, the trial court's decision to not merge his convictions and the effectiveness of his counsel. Because Wesley's arguments are meritless, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

         Facts and Procedural History

         {¶2} As a result of two separate incidents, Wesley was indicted on six counts of weapons while under disability, one count of improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle and one count of failure to comply. The trial court ultimately dismissed four of the weapons under disability counts as duplicative.

         {¶3} The first incident occurred on September 15th. A Steubenville police officer observed Wesley, whom the officer knew had an active arrest warrant. After confirming the warrant, a high speed vehicle pursuit ensued. Wesley eventually stopped his vehicle, fled on foot, and escaped. Police were unable to apprehend him that evening. An operable, loaded 9mm Ruger firearm with one bullet in the chamber and an extended clip containing 20 additional rounds was found on the driver's side floorboard in the abandoned vehicle. Wesley's DNA was confirmed on the handle of the weapon. Wesley was indicted with multiple counts: weapons under disability, improper handling, and failure to comply.

         {¶4} The second incident occurred on September 22nd. Authorities received information that Wesley was staying at the residence of his girlfriend, Jonaka Wallace. After executing an arrest warrant for Wesley, law enforcement searched his girlfriend's residence and discovered a firearm. As a result, Wesley was indicted with three counts of having a weapon under disability.

         {¶5} Wesley filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained during his arrest on September 22nd. At the hearing the State presented the testimony of U.S. Marshall Chad Simpson who testified that after Wesley was arrested he and a Steubenville Police detective spoke with Wallace. She informed the officers that she had recently moved to the residence and none of "Wesley's stuff was inside." Thereafter he asked for consent to search the residence which Wallace gave. During that search authorities found multiple items belonging to Wesley; including an orange envelope with a marshal number on it containing Wesley's release paperwork and photographs of his child and family. Under the envelope was a Taurus Judge .45 pistol.

         {¶6} Wallace testified that Wesley is the father of her child, and she had moved into the residence days before the arrest warrant was executed. She testified that this was the first time that Wesley had come to her house. She stated that she told law enforcement that they could not search the house because there was nothing in there. When asked again if she gave permission, she stated that she did not remember and that she has "blackouts" and mental health issues.

         {¶7} At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court denied the motion to suppress, stating that he found Marshall Simpson's testimony regarding consent to be more credible; however, the judgment entry merely denied the motion to suppress without further elaboration. Wesley ultimately pled no contest to the weapons under disability count from the September 22nd incident and was found guilty. A jury trial was held on the charges from the September 15th vehicle pursuit: weapons under disability, improper handling and failure to comply. Wesley was convicted on these three counts. His request at the sentencing hearing to merge the weapons under disability and improper handling convictions from the September 15th incident was denied. The trial court imposed consecutive sentences for all four convictions resulting in an aggregate prison term of nine and a half years.

         S ...

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