Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth District, Highland
Hicks, Lebanon, Ohio for Appellant.
Collins, Highland County Prosecuting Attorney, and James
Roeder, Assistant Highland County Prosecuting Attorney,
Hillsboro, Ohio for Appellee.
DECISION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY
1} Defendant-appellant, Donald McKenzie, appeals the judgment
of the Highland County Court of Common Pleas convicting him
of possessing chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine
in violation of R.C. 2925.041(A), a felony of the third
degree. On appeal, McKenzie argues that his conviction is
supported by insufficient evidence, or alternatively, is
against the manifest weight of the evidence.
2} McKenzie claims that the record does not support the
conclusion that he possessed the chemicals. He essentially
argues that the State's key witness is not credible and
without her testimony, no evidence exists that he had any
involvement or knowledge of what was happening.
3} In addition, McKenzie argues that the jury lost its way.
He contends that this is demonstrated through the findings of
the jury that he possessed the chemicals, but nonetheless
found that his truck (which contained the chemicals) was not
subject to forfeiture. He claims that the verdicts are
4} Upon review of the record, we conclude that McKenzie's
conviction is supported by sufficient evidence and is not
against the manifest weight of the evidence. The State
presented testimony that, if believed, supports
McKenzie's conviction; and this is not an exceptional
case where the evidence weighs heavily in favor of McKenzie
and where it is clear that the jury lost its way or created a
manifest miscarriage of justice.
5} Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
Facts and Procedural History
6} On May 3, 2016, a Highland County Grand Jury indicted
McKenzie on one count of possessing chemicals used to
manufacture methamphetamine in violation of R.C. 2925.04(A),
a felony of the third degree, and an attendant forfeiture
specification. The charge arose after police found
pseudoephedrine, ammonium nitrate pellets, and lithium inside
McKenzie's truck during a traffic stop.
7} On September 12, 2016, the case proceeded to trial where
the following evidence was presented, in relevant part:
8} On December 29, 2016, Deputy Vincent Antinore of the
Highland County Sherriff's Office was on routine patrol
in Highland County when he passed a Ford F-150 truck with a
poorly lit license plate. He turned around and confirmed that
the plate was not properly lit and then initiated a routine
9} Deputy Antinore approached the car and requested
identification from the occupants. The passenger, later
identified as Kaitlyn Webb, immediately got out of the truck
and admitted that she had an outstanding warrant. By that
time, Detective Chris Bowen of the Highland County
Sheriff's Office had arrived on the scene. Detective
Bowen placed Webb under arrest and put her in the back of his
10} Meanwhile, Deputy Antinore asked the driver, later
identified as McKenzie, where he and Webb were coming from
and where they were going. McKenzie stated that they were
coming from his sister's house on Heathermore Trail; and
they were going to his mother's house on Dundee Drive.
Deputy Antinore thought this was odd because "the
location we were at on North Bend Road from where he said he
was coming from on Heathermore, it would not make sense for
him to be on North Bend Road, because Dundee, where he was
supposedly headed was parallel to where he was at."
11} As they were talking, Deputy Antinore noticed something
covered-up on the floor of the front seat. When he returned
to his cruiser to run McKenzie's information, he asked
Webb about the item; and Webb indicated that it was a bag
containing chemicals. Deputy Antinore returned to the truck
and ordered McKenzie out of the car. McKenzie denied knowing
what was in the bag and said that Webb had put the bag in the
truck. Deputy Antinore told McKenzie that he was free to
leave but that his truck was going to be detained.
12} Before leaving, McKenzie asked Deputy Antinore if he
could get a few things out of his truck. Deputy Antinore and
Detective Brown accompanied McKenzie to the truck where
McKenzie "cautiously" removed a book from
underneath the covered-up bag. In doing so, the bag fell
over; and several bottles of chemicals fell out, some of
which were leaking.
13} Suspecting that there may be an active meth lab in the
truck, Deputy Antinore and Detective Bowen searched the
truck. The bag contained a bottle of Coleman fuel, a bottle
of muriatic acid, a bottle of Crystal drain opener, an ice
compress, a package of "Damper It", and clear
plastic tubing. The passenger compartment contained a plastic
baggy containing a white substance, later identified as 13.45
grams of pseudoephedrine, two lithium batteries, and a
receipt showing that McKenzie had purchased some batteries
several days earlier.
14} According to Deputy Antinore and Detective Bowen,
McKenzie's truck contained nearly everything needed to
manufacture methamphetamine. Detective Bowen explained,
There are many different * * * ways of producing
methamphetamine. The one-pot method basically consists of a
soda bottle. You place ephedrine, uh, sodium hydroxide, which
is a crystal drain opener, lithium batteries, solvents. All
these ingredients go into one bottle and, each chemical
reacts with another chemical, and each chemical has its own
function and job. Uh, basically what it does is it produces
meth oil. Then there is a separate phase. Once meth oil is
created, you have to use acid and Damper It ...