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State v. Woelke

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Seneca

May 30, 2017

STATE OF OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
MARK D. WOELKE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT. STATE OF OHIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
MARK D. WOELKE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

         Appeals from Seneca County Common Pleas Court Trial Court Nos. 15CR0256 and 16CR0032

          Dorothy L. Williams for Appellant.

          Angela M. Boes for Appellee.

          OPINION

          SHAW, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant, Mark D. Woelke ("Woelke"), appeals the October 28, 2016 judgment of the Seneca County Court of Common Pleas, in case number 15CR0256, journalizing his conviction by a jury for one count of Burglary, in violation of R.C. 2911.12(A)(3), (D), a felony of the third degree, and sentencing him to a prison term of thirty-six months. Woelke also appeals the October 28, 2016 judgment of the Seneca County Court of Common Pleas, in case number 16CR0032, journalizing his conviction by a jury for six counts of Burglary, in violation of R.C. 2911.12(A)(2), (D), all felonies of the second degree, and three counts of Grand Theft of a Motor Vehicle, in violation of R.C. 2913.02(A)(1), (B)(5), all felonies of the fourth degree, and sentencing him to an aggregate prison term of eighteen years and thirty-six months to run consecutive to his prison term imposed in case number 15CR0256.

         {¶2} On appeal, Woelke assigns as error the trial court's decision overruling his motions to compel and motions for acquittal. Specifically, Woelke challenges the trial court's finding that the investigating detective's notes, which were not disclosed in discovery by the prosecution, were not exculpatory evidence.

         Facts and Procedural History

         {¶3} On October 19, 2015, at 11:50 a.m., Officer Gabriel Wedge of the Fostoria Police Department was traveling to his office from his residence in Seneca County when he observed a female driving a vehicle suspected to be involved in a number of daytime burglaries and thefts in the area. Officer Wedge followed the vehicle to his neighbor's home and witnessed Woelke exit the home and throw something into the trunk of the vehicle, which was later determined to be a flat screen television. Knowing that Woelke was not a resident of the home, Officer Wedge pulled into the driveway to attempt to block the vehicle from leaving, but Woelke, who was now in the driver's seat, was able to drive through the adjacent field and around Officer Wedge's vehicle. Detective Wedge pursued the vehicle in a high-speed chase, but eventually lost track of it in Wood County and decided to stop the pursuit due to the fact that the rate of speed at times was dangerously high and that he was driving an unmarked vehicle which did not have lights or sirens.

         {¶4} Officer Wedge was later able to determine the identity of the female he observed driving the car as Jennifer Godsey. Woelke was indicted for a third degree felony burglary offense, in case number 15CR0256, to which he entered a plea of not guilty. Godsey was also indicted for complicity to burglary. Godsey eventually entered into a plea agreement with the prosecution and agreed to provide information regarding the burglaries and thefts. Godsey revealed that she helped Woelke break into numerous homes and buildings to steal personal property from April 2015 to October 2015. She explained that Woelke chose a property to enter looking for ATVs, guns, televisions, money or jewelry. She then drove around the area while Woelke was in the home or out structure and, after sufficient time had passed, she circled back to pick him up with the stolen items. The two then drove to Toledo to exchange the objects for heroin, or sometimes money, that they received from a drug dealer named "Freddie." The pair then returned to Woelke's mother's home where they used the drugs. They stayed at the home for days or weeks at time, depending on how much heroin they received. Once they consumed all the drugs in their possession they set out to find another residence to burglarize.

         {¶5} On January 6, 2016, Godsey agreed to ride in a vehicle with Detective Reinbolt of the Seneca County Sheriffs Office and the investigator from the Seneca County Prosecutor's Office. The three drove around the county as Godsey identified the locations where Woelke committed the burglary and theft offenses. She also recalled the items that were taken from each location and the mode of Woelke's entry. Detective Reinbolt wrote down the addresses and information as Godsey relayed it. Detective Reinbolt returned to his office and cross checked the addresses and details of the offenses in his database, which confirmed the information given by Godsey.

         {¶6} On February 18, 2016, in case number 16CR0032, an eleven count indictment was returned against Woelke alleging that Woelke committed eight counts of second degree felony Burglary and three counts of Grand Theft of a Motor Vehicle, each a fourth degree felony. Woelke entered pleas of not guilty to the charges and the case proceeded to discovery.

         {¶7} On September 15, 2016, the trial court granted the prosecution's motion to consolidate case number 15CR0256 and case number 16CR0032 for purposes of trial.

         {¶8} On October 13, 2016, Woelke filed a Motion to Compel Additional Discovery in each case claiming that the prosecution had failed to provide certain requested discovery, including any written or recorded statements made by Godsey during the course of the investigation, as well as any investigative reports or notes made by law enforcement. The prosecution filed a response claiming it had fully complied with the discovery request.

         {¶9} On October 17, 2016, the trial court granted the prosecution's motion to dismiss with prejudice Counts Ten and Eleven of the indictment in case number 16CR0032.

         {¶10} On October 25, 2016, the case proceeded to a two-day jury trial on the remaining charges. Prior to opening statements, and outside the presence of the jury, the trial court addressed the pending motions to compel with the parties on the record. Defense counsel raised an issue with respect to a reference made by Detective Reinbolt in a recorded interview with Godsey to handwritten notes Detective Reinbolt had taken during the "ride-along" with Godsey. The defense claimed that they had not received any handwritten investigation notes from the prosecution in discovery despite the specific request being made. (Tr. Trans. at 142, 144). The prosecution explained that any material or notes used in the investigation in relation to Godsey's interview was incorporated into Detective Reinbolt's investigation report. The prosecutor further contended that any and all notes were work product and were destroyed after they were compiled into the formal report, which was provided to the defense in discovery. (Id. at 143).

         {¶11} The prosecutor informed the trial court that she had not seen the notes and conferred with Detective Reinbolt who relayed to her that the notes in question "consisted only of five different addresses on a piece of paper when [Detective Reinbolt and Godsey] went to the location in the County where many of [the] reported burglaries had occurred. There weren't many notes taken on them at all. What the notes consisted of were basically the location, what-was entry made, how was entry made, was Ms. Godsey with the Defendant at the time and what items were stolen from the locations. " (Tr. Trans. at 162).

         {¶12} The prosecutor confirmed that the handwritten notes had been destroyed, but the contents were rewritten in Detective Reinbolt's formal investigation report and that there was no intention to conceal the contents from the defense. Moreover, the prosecutor stated that the State planned on calling both Godsey and Detective Reinbolt to the stand during its case-in-chief. Woelke's defense counsel renewed the objection asserting that the prosecution had failed to comply with its discovery request and moved for acquittal. The trial court overruled the motions for acquittal and motions to compel additional discovery concluding that the defense's discovery request had fully been complied with by the State and therefore there was no ground for acquittal on that basis.

         {¶13} The case continued to trial where the State presented the testimony of thirteen witnesses, including Godsey and Detective Reinbolt, and the defense presented the testimony of two witnesses in its case. In addition, the recorded interview with Godsey, which provided the basis for the defense's discovery objection, was also played for the jury at trial on Godsey's cross-examination by the defense. The jury returned a verdict convicting Woelke of one count of third degree felony Burglary in case number 15CR0256, and six counts of second degree felony Burglary and three counts of fourth degree felony Grand Theft of Motor Vehicle in case number 16CR0032.

         {¶14} Woelke filed this appeal, asserting the following ...


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