Court of Appeals of Ohio, Sixth District, Sandusky
Court Nos. 14TRD3216 14CRB218
Timothy F. Braun, Sandusky County Prosecuting Attorney, for
D. Tolles, for appellant.
DECISION AND JUDGMENT
1} Appellant, James Kern, appeals the judgment of
the Sandusky County Court, District No. 2, convicting him
following a bench trial of one count of speeding in violation
of R.C. 4511.21(D)(1), a minor misdemeanor, one count of
reckless operation in violation of R.C. 4511.20(A), a minor
misdemeanor, one count of failure to control in violation of
R.C. 4511.202(A), a minor misdemeanor, and one count of
fleeing and eluding in violation of R.C. 2921.331(B), a
misdemeanor of the first degree. For the reasons that follow,
Facts and Procedural Background
2} The testimony at trial was largely undisputed,
and revealed the following. On May 10, 2014, at approximately
10:30 p.m., Trooper Anthony Scherley with the Ohio State
Highway Patrol was heading westbound on U.S. 6 in Sandusky
County when he observed a motorcycle approaching him from the
opposite direction travelling eastbound. Scherley testified
that he checked the motorcycle's speed with his radar and
found that the motorcycle was travelling 68 m.p.h. in a 55
m.p.h. zone. As Scherley began to turn his vehicle around, he
heard the motorcycle rapidly accelerate. Scherley activated
his lights and siren and a high speed chase ensued, during
which Scherley approached speeds of 140 m.p.h. in an attempt
to catch up with the motorcycle. Scherley observed the
motorcycle turn southbound on County Road 26, run through a
stop sign, and then turn left to head eastbound on County
Road 33. In the distance, Scherley could barely see the
motorcycle's taillight when he saw a quick brake light
and then it disappeared.
3} As Scherley approached the scene on County Road
33, he found the motorcycle laying in the ditch on the edge
of the roadway. No one was in the area at that time. Scherley
testified that he observed a few drops of blood on the
roadway and some riding glasses that also had blood on them.
Scherley ran the plates on the motorcycle, and it came back
being registered to appellant, who lives on County Road 33,
approximately one quarter of a mile from where the motorcycle
was found. Scherley also testified that he found a ticket for
a Toledo Mud Hens baseball game for that night with
appellant's name printed on it.
4} On cross-examination, Scherley testified that he
did not see who was driving the motorcycle that night, and
could not identify the driver. He further testified that no
samples of the blood were taken to be analyzed.
5} Captain Michael Meggitt of the Sandusky County
Sheriffs Office testified that he responded to the scene with
the K-9 unit. Meggitt testified that the dog tracked from the
scene north approximately 200 yards into a wooded area where
there were some travel trailers. The dog then went west
through a path for another several hundred yards, ending up
at the back of appellant's residence. Meggitt testified
that there was blood on the concrete pad near appellant's
garage, as well as a blood smear on the screen door handle
into the house. Meggitt knocked on every door, but there was
no answer. No further action was taken that night.
6} On May 20, 2014, Deputy Eric Arquette of the
Sandusky County Sheriff's Office responded to
appellant's residence, after appellant called to file a
theft report regarding his motorcycle. Arquette testified
that when he arrived, he observed an injury to
appellant's forehead that "was in various stages of
healing." Arquette could not remember whether the injury
was consistent with other "road rashes" that he has
observed, but that it "could be consistent" with
someone who was wearing glasses at the time the injury
occurred. Arquette testified that he felt that appellant was
filing a false report, and reminded appellant to be truthful.
Appellant, however, continued to maintain that he was not
involved in the accident, and that the motorcycle was indeed
stolen. Appellant told Arquette that he rode his motorcycle
to Toledo to attend the Mud Hens game, left early because it
was getting colder, and upon arriving home he parked his
motorcycle in the garage.
7} After Arquette's testimony, the state rested.
Appellant moved for a judgment of acquittal under Crim.R. 29,
which the trial court denied. Appellant then called his
mother, Linda Kern, as a witness.
8} Linda testified on direct examination that on May
10, 2014, appellant came to visit her around 8:30 p.m. She
said that she remembered the day because it was Mother's
Day weekend and her husband was out of town and she asked
appellant to come over because she was lonely. Linda
testified that appellant arrived in his pickup truck, not on
his motorcycle. The two of them watched a movie and ate
tacos, then appellant spent the night. Linda testified that
appellant was at her house the entire night.
9} The next time Linda saw appellant was on May 20,
2014, when he reported the motorcycle missing. Linda
explained that she had been taking care of appellant's
house while he was out of town for work, and that while she
was mowing his yard on May 20, she noticed that his
motorcycle was missing. She testified that appellant told her
to contact the police and report the motorcycle stolen. When
she called the police, however, she ...