Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Warren
APPEAL FROM WARREN COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No. 16
P. Fornshell, Warren County Prosecuting Attorney, Kirsten A.
Brandt, for plaintiff-appellee
& Rowland & Anderson, LLC, Charles M. Rowland II and
David J. Smith, for defendant-appellant
1} Defendant-appellant, Jonathon Leiter, appeals his
convictions and sentence in the Warren County Court of Common
Pleas for operation of a vehicle while under the influence
("OVI"), possession of drugs, and possession of a
traffic control sign.
2} A Warren County Deputy Sheriff was on patrol when
he observed a pickup truck partially pulled off the roadway
with its front end in the vegetation on the side of the road
and its rear end protruding into the road. Despite it being
dark at the time, the truck did not have any lights on. The
deputy noticed movement inside the truck, and decided to
investigate the driver's well-being.
3} The deputy approached the truck and asked the
driver, later identified as Leiter, if he needed assistance.
At that time, Leiter turned on the lights in the truck and
drove away from the deputy so quickly that the tires spun in
the gravel and mud. Leiter then drove to a parking lot, and
the deputy followed. When the deputy made contact with Leiter
in the parking lot, he smelled an odor of an alcoholic
beverage coming from Leiter's breath and person. The
deputy also noticed that Leiter's speech was slurred, his
eyes were blood shot and glassy, and that the odor coming
from Leiter's breath was consistent. The deputy also
noticed that Leiter was "imbalanced" and that he
had difficulty articulating where he had come from and where
he was going.
4} The deputy observed tree bark embedded into the
front of Leiter's truck, an alcoholic beverage container
on the driver's side floorboard, as well as a bottle of
rum and a prescription bottle of medication. The deputy also
observed a city of Carlisle 35 m.p.h. speed limit sign in the
bed of Leiter's truck, which had fresh mud on it.
5} The deputy asked Leiter if he had been drinking.
At first, Leiter denied drinking alcohol, but then changed
his answer to yes while also voicing concerns about being
arrested for OVI because he had been convicted of OVI in the
past. During the time that the deputy conversed with Leiter,
Leiter became more lethargic, had difficulty keeping his eyes
open, and was falling asleep. The deputy then placed Leiter
in his police cruiser. Leiter agreed to a blood test, and the
deputy took him to the hospital so that the test could be
performed. Leiter's blood alcohol content was .058, below
the legal limit for operating a vehicle. However, the blood
test revealed the presence of benzodiazepines and opiates.
6} The state indicted Leiter for OVI, possession of
drugs, and possession of a traffic control sign. The OVI
charge carried a specification that Leiter had been convicted
of five or more counts of OVI in the prior 20 years. Leiter
waived a jury trial, and instead, the matter proceeded to a
bench trial. The trial court found Leiter guilty on all
counts, and sentenced him to six years and six months in
prison. Leiter also had his driver's license permanently
revoked. Leiter now appeals his convictions and sentence,
raising the following assignments of error. We will address
Leiter's first and third assignments of error together,
as they are interrelated.
7} Assignment of Error No. 1:
8} THE TRIAL COURT FINDING APPELLANT GUILTY WAS
CONTRARY TO THE MANIFEST WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE.
9} Assignment of Error No. 3:
10} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY NOT GRANTING THE
DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR ACQUITTAL UNDER OHIO ...