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State v. Richards

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

March 31, 2017

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
JILL A. RICHARDS Defendant-Appellant

         Criminal Appeal from Municipal Court T.C. NO. 16CRB1252

          JOSHUA T. SHAW, Atty. Reg. No. 0087456, Assistant City Prosecutor, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee

          J. JOSEPH HYDE, Atty. Reg. No. 0093802, Assistant Public Defender, Attorney for Defendant-Appellant


          DONOVAN, J.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant Jill A. Richards appeals her conviction and sentence for possession of drug paraphernalia, in violation of R.C. 2925.14(C)(1), a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. Richards filed a timely notice of appeal with this Court.

         {¶ 2} The incident which forms the basis for the instant appeal occurred on the night of March 2, 2016, at approximately 11:24 p.m., when Dayton Police Officers Wolodkiewicz and Gross initiated a traffic stop of white Ford Explorer with an expired license plate. The traffic stop occurred at the corner of South Findlay Street and Davis Avenue in Dayton, Ohio. Richards was one of four occupants in the vehicle, and she was sitting in the front passenger seat. Upon making contact with the occupants of the vehicle, Officer Wolodkiewicz recognized one of the passengers in the back seat as an individual with a history of illegal drug use. Based upon his observation, Officer Wolodkiewicz called in a request for a K-9 unit to come and perform an open air sniff around the vehicle.

         {¶ 3} While waiting for the K-9 unit to arrive, Officer Wolodkiewicz ordered all of the occupants to step out of the vehicle. All of the vehicle's occupants, including Richards, were patted down for weapons and told to stand together on the side of the road to the right rear of the vehicle. Shortly thereafter, Dayton Police Officer Reynolds arrived at the scene with his K-9 unit and proceeded to lead the dog around the exterior of the vehicle. While the K-9 unit did not sniff Richards or any of the other occupants, it did alert at the right side of the vehicle.

         {¶ 4} Because of the K-9 unit's alert, Officer Reynolds and newly arrived Officer Patterson began a systematic search of the interior of the vehicle. In the trunk area of the vehicle, the officers discovered a hypodermic needle underneath various parts of a vacuum cleaner. The officers also found parts of another hypodermic needle under the right rear seat in the vehicle. After searching the back seat and trunk area, Officer Patterson began searching the front portion of the vehicle. Officer Patterson searched the front seat area, the glove box, and the center console. Officer Patterson testified that he also searched the area immediately surrounding the outside of the vehicle with an LED flashlight but failed to find any additional contraband. We note that neither Officer Wolodkiewicz nor Officer Patterson, the only witnesses who testified at trial, was the police officer who patted Richards down.

         {¶ 5} After concluding their search of the vehicle, the officers placed the two back seat passengers in separate police cruisers. Because of the cold weather, Officers Wolodkiewicz and Patterson permitted the driver and Richards to get into the Explorer. Officer Wolodkiewicz testified that he and Officer Patterson escorted the driver back to the driver's seat while Richards was permitted to walk back to the front passenger seat unaccompanied. While they were standing on the driver's side of the vehicle, the officers heard the sound of glass hitting the ground as Richards got into the front passenger seat. Officer Wolodkiewicz testified that he immediately walked around the back of the vehicle to the passenger side where he discovered a glass drug pipe lying on the pavement near the front passenger door. Officer Wolodkiewicz testified that the pipe was on the pavement approximately one foot away from the vehicle near the front running board. Officers Wolodkiewicz and Patterson both testified that they observed no furtive movements from the driver of the vehicle prior to hearing the glass pipe hit the ground, nor was anyone standing near Richards when she entered the vehicle from the front passenger side door directly near where the pipe was located.

         {¶ 6} Officer Wolodkiewicz testified that he asked Richards about the pipe, but she denied it was hers and became belligerent. Thereafter, Richards was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia and transported to jail. Officer Wolodkiewicz collected the pipe and submitted it to the Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab for analysis. The pipe tested positive for cocaine and methamphetamine. The pipe was not tested for fingerprints.

         {¶ 7} At her arraignment on March 3, 2016, Richards pled not guilty and was released on her own recognizance. Richards failed to appear at a pre-trial conference on March 15, 2016, and the trial court issued a capias for her arrest. Richards was later arrested on the outstanding warrant on April 3, 2016. The trial court scheduled Richards' trial date for April 12, 2016. On April 4, 2016, Richards posted bail and was released from custody on the same day.

         {¶ 8} Thereafter, Richards failed to appear for her trial date on April 12, 2016, and the court issued a second warrant for her arrest. Richards was arrested two days later on April 14, 2016. Richards' trial was scheduled for April 25, 2016. Richards remained in custody until the day of her trial. On April 25, 2016, a bench trial was held, and the court found Richards guilty of possession of drug paraphernalia. On May 4, 2016, the trial court sentenced Richards to time served and terminated the case. On July 25, 2016, the trial court filed a nunc pro tunc entry providing the details of Richards' sentence. Specifically, the trial court stated that it sentenced Richards to twenty-three days in jail with credit for the twenty-three days she served while the case was pending.

         {¶ 9} It is from this judgment that Richards now appeals.[1]

         {¶ 10} Because they are interrelated, we will discuss Richards' first and second ...

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