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State v. Leiter

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Warren

November 13, 2017

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JONATHON LEITER, Defendant-Appellant.

         CRIMINAL APPEAL FROM WARREN COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No. 16 CR 31757

          David P. Fornshell, Warren County Prosecuting Attorney, Kirsten A. Brandt, for plaintiff-appellee

          Babb & Rowland & Anderson, LLC, Charles M. Rowland II and David J. Smith, for defendant-appellant

          OPINION

          PIPER, J.

         {¶ 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 ...


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