from the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, Case No.
Plaintiff-Appellee JOHN D. FERRERO, Prosecuting Attorney,
Stark County, Ohio By: KRISTINE W. BEARD Assistant
Prosecuting Attorney Appellate Section
Defendant-Appellant ADAM WILGUS
JUDGES: Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P.J. Hon. William B. Hoffman, J.
Hon. John W. Wise, J.
Defendant-appellant James Church appeals his convictions
entered by the Stark County Court of Common Pleas.
Plaintiff-appellee is the state of Ohio.
OF THE FACTS AND CASE
On March 8, 2016, Ohio State Highway Patrol Sergeant Joel
Smith observed a driver erratically changing lanes on
Interstate 77, southbound. Specifically, Trooper Smith
observed the vehicle slow down and change lanes, then
abruptly change lanes without signaling. Trooper Smith noted
the vehicle had a license plate for a rental car from
Michigan. Trooper Smith effectuated a stop. Upon approaching
the vehicle, Trooper Smith smelled a light odor of marijuana,
and observed loose marijuana on the passenger seat, floor
board, and in the back seat.
Appellant produced a valid driver's license, but claimed
he could not find a rental agreement, after searching only
the center console. Appellant maintained the vehicle's
glove box was locked and he did not have keys to unlock the
compartment. When Trooper Smith returned to his cruiser to
call the rental company, check for warrants and request a K9
search,  he noticed Appellant disappear from view,
laying across the front seat toward the vicinity of the glove
compartment. Upon returning to the vehicle, Appellant handed
the rental agreement to Trooper Smith. The vehicle was
registered to a rental car company, with Appellant's
brother named on the rental agreement. Appellant was not an
authorized operator of the rental vehicle.
Approximately forty minutes after the initial traffic stop,
Officer Todd Gillilan arrived on the scene with a K9 officer
to conduct a sniff search of the vehicle. The K9 indicated a
response at the vehicle's driver's side, trunk, and
passenger side. The officers proceeded to conduct a search of
the entire vehicle. A gallon-sized plastic bag of suspected
cocaine, as well as, a smaller wrapped package of suspected
cocaine was found in the vehicle's glove box. The
substances were later identified as cocaine hydrochloride, a
schedule II substance.
The Stark County Grand Jury indicted Appellant on one count
of trafficking in cocaine, in violation of R.C.
2925.03(A)(2)(C)(4), with a major drug offender
specification, R.C. 2941.1410; and one count of possession of
cocaine, in violation of R.C. 2925.11(A)(C)(4)(f), with a
major drug offender specification, R.C. 2941.140.
On June 21, 2016, Appellant moved the trial court to suppress
the evidence obtained during the search. The trial court held
a hearing on the motion on August 15, 2016.
On August 16, 2016, the trial court denied Appellant's
motion to suppress. On the same date, Appellant was convicted
by a jury of the charges. The matter proceeded to sentencing
on September 6, 2016.
I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED WHEN IT DENIED APPELLANT'S
MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE COLLECTED DURING A SEARCH THAT
VIOLATED HIS FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHT AGAINST ...