Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton
Appeal From: Hamilton County, Court of Common Pleas Trial No.
T. Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, and Sean M.
Donovan, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for
Croushore, for Defendant-Appellant.
Defendant-appellant Myron Billups appeals his conviction for
trafficking in heroin. On appeal, he challenges the trial
court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence
recovered from his person and his vehicle during a traffic
stop. Billups argues the police officers lacked reasonable
suspicion to conduct a Terry pat-down, the pat-down
exceeded the permissible scope, the officers excessively
detained him to await the arrival of a drug-sniffing canine,
and the officers lacked probable cause to arrest him. Finding
none of his arguments meritorious, we affirm the trial
Billups was charged with two second-degree felonies,
trafficking in heroin, a violation of R.C. 2925.03, and
possession of heroin, a violation of R.C. 2925.11. Billups
moved to suppress all the evidence obtained from the search
of his person and vehicle and requested an evidentiary
hearing. At the hearing, the state stipulated that it had
lacked a warrant to arrest Billups, and therefore, it had the
burden to prove probable cause to arrest him. The state
presented testimony from Officer Eric Schaible. Billups
presented four exhibits, which the trial court admitted into
evidence: the video of the traffic stop, the photographs of
the items seized during the stop, and the traffic citation.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court took the
matter under advisement. The trial court subsequently denied
the motion to suppress, providing detailed findings of fact
and conclusions of law.
Thereafter, Billups entered a no-contest plea, and the trial
court found him guilty of both counts of trafficking in
heroin and possession of heroin. At sentencing, the trial
court merged, at the state's election, the possession
count with the trafficking count and sentenced Billups to
four years in prison for the trafficking offense.
In a single assignment of error, Billups argues the trial
court erred by denying his motion to suppress.
Appellate review of a motion to suppress presents a mixed
question of fact and law. See State v. Burnside, 100
Ohio St.3d 152, 2003-Ohio-5372, 797 N.E.2d 71, ¶ 8. The
trial court, acting as the trier of fact, is in the best
position to resolve factual questions and evaluate witness
credibility. Id. Therefore, an appellate court must
accept the factual findings if they are supported by
competent, credible evidence, but it reviews de novo the
trial court's application of the law to the facts.
Id.; see also State v. Sweeten, 1st Dist. Hamilton
No. C-150583, 2016-Ohio-5828, ¶ 8.
Court's Factual Findings
The trial court made the following findings of fact, which
are supported by competent credible evidence. Officer
Schaible and his partner were in uniform and on patrol in a
marked police cruiser. They were watching Billups and others
at a United Dairy Farmers store. When Billups drove away, the
officers followed his vehicle. Billups's vehicle entered
a turn lane and quickly changed lanes. The officers initiated
a traffic stop for improper change of course and for
improperly tinted windows.
The officers then approached Billups's vehicle and spoke
with him. Billups was moving around in the vehicle and seemed
very nervous, which caused Officer Schaible to suspect
something illegal might be in the vehicle. Officer Schaible
and his partner went back to their cruiser and ordered a drug
dog to the scene. Officer Schaible started filling out the
citation for the window-tint violation and the improper
change of course, as well as a contact card that he is
required to complete during all stops. He also ran
Billups's record. Billups had been charged with a weapons