Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Trumbull
Appeal from the Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas, Case
No. 2015 CR 00666.
Watkins, Trumbull County Prosecutor, and Ashleigh Musick,
Assistant Prosecutor, Administration Building, Fourth (For
Michael Partlow, Suite C, Kent, (For Defendant-Appellant).
CYNTHIA WESTCOTT RICE, P.J.
Appellant, Michele R. Mayernik, pleaded no contest to one
count of possession of drugs, a felony of the fifth degree,
in violation of R.C. 2925.11(A) and (C)(2)(a). Prior to
entering the plea, she filed a motion to suppress evidence,
which was denied by judgment of the Trumbull County Court of
Common Pleas. That judgment is the subject of the instant
appeal. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm.
On the night of July 9, 2015, Trooper John Lamm of the Ohio
State Highway Patrol initiated a traffic stop of a vehicle
with two occupants in Warren, Ohio. Prior to initiating the
stop, the trooper first noticed the vehicle had a remarkably
loud exhaust. While following the vehicle, it made a left
turn onto Market Street into the curbside lane, instead of
the left-most lane. The vehicle then made a second wide,
right turn onto Elm Road into the left-most lane before
veering into the curb lane without a signal. Trooper Lamm
activated his lights and initiated the traffic stop.
Trooper Lamm approached the passenger side of the vehicle. He
noticed the interior of the vehicle was extremely cluttered.
He requested both the driver's and the passenger's
licenses; the driver produced his license but was unable to
locate the vehicle registration or proof of insurance. The
trooper noticed appellant acting nervously, breathing
heavily, and avoiding eye contact. As she opened her purse to
retrieve her license, she shielded the contents from the
officer. The trooper found each of these behaviors
suspicious. Ultimately, appellant surrendered her license.
Trooper Lamm walked to the driver's side of the car and
engaged the driver. He noticed the driver's eyes
"appeared glassed over." The driver also appeared
nervous, avoiding eye contact and speaking quickly. From the
driver's-side window, the trooper noticed a pill bottle
in the center console of the vehicle. The driver advised the
trooper that the bottle was a prescription that belonged to
his young son. At this point, the trooper asked the driver to
exit the vehicle to check for signs of impairment.
After concluding the driver was not impaired, the trooper
again inquired into the pill bottle and entered the
driver's information into his computer. The officer was
able to confirm, to his satisfaction, the prescription was
for the driver's son. Based upon his observations, i.e.,
each individual's nervous behavior and lack of eye
contact, as well as the disordered nature of the vehicle, the
trooper asked the driver if he had any illegal narcotics in
his possession. The driver was cooperative and responded that
he had no narcotics; he further consented to a search of the
vehicle. When asked whether he knew if appellant had any
illegal narcotics, the driver first said "no, "
then qualified his answer, stating "she better
After confirming the identity of the driver, the trooper
returned to the vehicle and engaged appellant. He asked
appellant if she had any drugs in her possession. At first,
she responded no. Appellant, however, was still avoiding eye
contact and appeared "overly nervous and [was] breathing
heavy." He also noticed appellant gripping her purse
with both hands. The trooper believed these actions to be
additionally suspicious; he testified:
Typically, everybody does get nervous but that nervousness
goes away fairly soon. When I walked back up to the vehicle
for the second time, her being a passenger in the vehicle,
she's not driving so she doesn't need to worry about
DUI or driving under suspension and she still had that
nervous behavior. She had plenty of time to ease her fear
from the traffic stop. And when I go back up there, she is
still nervous. That's another indicator for me.
Typically, people - - their nerves calm down after some time.
Trooper Lamm again asked appellant if she had any drugs on
her and added "tell me what you have and I will help
you." Appellant looked down and stated she had a
Suboxone pill in her possession and, ultimately gave it to
the trooper. Appellant was then provided Miranda
warnings. The trooper asked appellant if she had any other
drugs, to which she replied she may have a Suboxone strip on
her. She additionally stated she did not have a valid
prescription for Suboxone. Appellant was placed under arrest
after which the trooper searched her purse; he did not locate
any additional contraband, but discovered an orange needle
cap amongst appellant's belongings.
Appellant was ultimately indicted on one count of possession
of drugs, a felony of the fifth degree, in violation of R.C.
2925.11(A) and (C)(2)(a). She initially pleaded not guilty
and filed a motion to suppress evidence. In the motion, she
argued the duration of the traffic stop was of an
unreasonable duration and the length was unsupported by
articulable facts that would support the detention. After a
hearing, the trial court requested post-hearing briefs.
Eventually, on July 18, 2016, appellant entered a plea of no
contest, which the trial court accepted. No formal judgment
entry denying appellant's motion to suppress appeared on
record prior to appellant's plea. Appellant and the state
both acknowledge, however, the trial court verbalized its
decision to deny the motion. Appellant was ultimately
sentenced to five years community control. Appellant appealed
the trial court's judgment denying her motion to
Upon appellant's motion, this court remanded the matter
to the trial court to issue a written findings of fact and
conclusions of law supporting its oral denial of the motion.
The trial court complied with this court's ...