Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Clermont
APPEAL FROM CLERMONT COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No.
Vincent Faris, Clermont County Prosecuting Attorney, Nicholas
Horton, for plaintiff-appellee
R. Crousey, for defendant-appellant
1} Defendant-appellant, Michael C. Potee, appeals
his convictions for one count of involuntary manslaughter,
two counts of corrupting another with drugs, one count of
trafficking in heroin, and one count of aggravated
trafficking in fentanyl from the Clermont County Court of
2} On September 22, 2015, the Clermont County Grand
jury returned a five-count indictment for the above offenses.
Prior to trial, the state amended the indictment and bill of
particulars to permit the jury to find appellant guilty of
complicity to commit any of the five offenses. The trial
court allowed such amendment over appellant's objection.
The trial revealed the following facts.
3} Rachel Joslin testified on the behalf of the
state that on May 20, 2015, following a trip to the hospital,
her husband, Jeremy Adkins, suggested the couple purchase $20
of heroin from appellant. The couple returned to their
apartment in Clermont County, where Adkins called appellant
sometime before noon to plan the purchase. Shortly after the
telephone call with appellant, the two proceeded to drive to
appellant's workplace in Hamilton County.
4} Appellant testified Adkins did contact him
several times throughout the day because "he [needed] to
get some heroin." Appellant "was actually waiting
to buy some heroin [himself]" and "had contacted
[his] drug dealer[, ]" so appellant "relayed that
[information] to [Adkins]." From this conversation,
Adkins decided to drive to appellant's work to obtain the
heroin. Appellant provided Adkins directions and helped
facilitate a heroin transaction between appellant's drug
dealer and Adkins. Appellant testified Adkins would not
likely have obtained heroin from appellant's dealer
without his assistance.
5} Joslin's testimony conflicted with
appellant's testimony regarding from whom the couple
purchased the heroin. Joslin testified the couple pulled into
the lot at the address provided by appellant next to a white
work van. Appellant approached the couple's vehicle and
conversed for a few minutes before exchanging a single bindle
of heroin for $20. The couple proceeded to drive back to
their apartment in Clermont County without making any stops.
At 12:13 p.m., appellant sent a text message to Adkins'
phone, stating "[l]et me know how you like that."
Adkins responded two minutes later, stating "I will as
soon as [I] get home in about 20 min[utes. Thanks.]"
Appellant testified his last phone conversation with Adkins
occurred when Adkins returned to his apartment in Clermont
County and, at the time, appellant assumed Adkins was high on
the drugs purchased from appellant's dealer.
6} Joslin testified that once the couple returned to
their apartment, they split the heroin equally. Joslin
described the color of the heroin as appearing to be a
mixture of cream and white. On behalf of the state, Detective
Ken Mullis of the Union Township Police Department testified
that it is common for drug dealers to use a cutting agent to
increase profits. With respect to heroin, fentanyl has become
a common cutting agent and results in the substance appearing
"between off-white and stony gray." Joslin further
testified that the couple snorted the heroin and that they
quickly felt the effects of the drugs. Adkins went to the
bathroom and Joslin headed towards the front door to walk the
family dog when she lost consciousness.
7} Appellant called Adkins at 3:39 p.m., and when he
did not pick up, appellant sent him a text message, stating
"[y]ou alive". Appellant testified he commonly uses
the phrase and, to support this contention, the trial court
admitted evidence of another text message asking one of
appellant's friends if he was alive. Before 4:00 p.m.,
Adkins and Joslin's then 17-year-old son, Cain, returned
home from high school. Cain testified that he had difficulty
entering the apartment because Joslin's unconscious body
blocked the front door. Cain observed Joslin struggling to
breathe and making "gargling" sounds. Cain
attempted to locate a phone and found his deceased father in
the bathroom. Cain described Adkins as unconscious, not
breathing, and extremely blue in the face. Cain retrieved
Adkins' phone from the bathroom and called the police.
8} An emergency medical technician ("EMT")
and a Union Township Police detective responded to Cain's
emergency call. The EMT found Joslin breathing, but
unconscious and unresponsive. The EMT determined Joslin was
at risk of dying; therefore, he administered a dose of Narcan
and revived her. The single dose did not bring Joslin to full
consciousness; therefore, the EMT administered a second dose.
While the EMT treated Joslin, the police detective located
Adkins, deceased in the bathroom. A search of the residence
produced one bindle that appeared to be heroin-related in the
couple's bedroom. An ambulance transported Joslin to a
nearby hospital. During the ambulance ride, Joslin disclosed
she used heroin obtained from an acquaintance of her husband,
whose number the police could find in her husband's
9} The lead investigator, Detective Joshua Bail of
the Miami Township Police Department, testified on behalf of
the state that he conducted a series of interviews with
Joslin. The first interview occurred at the hospital.
Detective Bail testified Joslin disclosed to him that her
husband purchased $20 of powder heroin from a man named Chris
in a church parking lot in Hamilton County. Joslin stated she
and her husband had been sober for years before making this
purchase. She described the dealer as a white male in his
thirties with tattoos on both arms who had a twin brother and
lived in the Lakeshore Mobile Home Park in Goshen. She
further disclosed this man drove a white work van. Detective
Bail conducted a second interview with Joslin the next day
where Joslin informed Detective Bail she had accidentally
provided the wrong name for the heroin dealer. Joslin
testified she was not altogether at the hospital and that she
corrected herself during the second interview by providing
Nick, Nicky, or Mickey as the name of the person who sold her
husband heroin. Joslin further testified she had never met
the dealer before the transaction, but knew of him as her
husband's acquaintance. Detective Bail testified that
another detective independent of this case administered a
photo lineup where Joslin picked appellant with 95%
confidence. During trial, Joslin identified appellant as the
man who sold her husband heroin on the day in question.
10} From this information, Detective Bail obtained a
search warrant for appellant's mobile home. Execution of
the warrant on May 21, 2015 resulted in extensive drug
paraphernalia including a great deal of uncapped needles,
bottoms of aluminum cans, and plastic wrappings suggestive of
drug activity. While at the mobile home, police called the
number listed as "Nick Potee" in Adkins' phone
and a mobile phone rang inside appellant's room. Police
also located a white work van outside the mobile home.
Detective Bail placed appellant under arrest at his residence
and later that day conducted an interview. The state played a
recording of this short interview at trial. During the
interview, appellant informed the police that he temporarily
resided at the mobile home, he owned the phone recovered from
the residence, and that he is the only one who uses the
11} On cross-examination of Detective Bail and
Detective Mullis, defense counsel inquired whether the
outcome of the search of appellant's mobile home was
consistent with drug usage, as opposed to drug trafficking.
Likewise, defense counsel made the same inquiry of the
information obtained from appellant's phone. Due to this
inquiry, the trial court later permitted questioning by the
state during cross-examination of appellant regarding
appellant's possession of $900 a few days prior to the
date in question. In so doing, the trial court denied defense
counsel's motion for mistrial based on admitting
impermissible character evidence.
12} The Hamilton County Coroner's Office
conducted an autopsy of Adkins' body. Hamilton County
Chief Deputy Coroner, Dr. Karen Looman, testified the autopsy
revealed Adkins died from acute combined heroin and fentanyl
poisoning. She further stated overdosing on a mixture of
heroin and fentanyl creates a substantial likelihood of death
and that no other cause contributed to Adkins' death. Dr.
Looman testified someone using heroin and fentanyl following
an extended period of sobriety ...