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State v. Freeders

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Stark

December 26, 2017

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
SHAD FREEDERS Defendant-Appellant

         Criminal Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2016 CR 01783

          For Plaintiff-Appellee JOHN D. FERRERO PROSECUTING ATTORNEY RONALD MARK CALDWELL ASSISTANT PROSECUTOR

          For Defendant-Appellant AARON KOVALCHIK

          JUDGES: Hon. John W. Wise, P. J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J. Hon. Earle E. Wise, J.

          OPINION

          WISE, JOHN, P. J.

         {¶1} Appellant Shad Freeders appeals his conviction, in the Court of Common Pleas, Stark County, on two felony counts pertaining to the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine. Appellee is the State of Ohio. The relevant facts leading to this appeal are as follows.

         {¶2} The charges leading to the conviction at issue in this matter grew out of a September 12, 2016 traffic stop of Appellant Freeders' motor vehicle and a subsequent search of a residence at 450 McNally Court by Alliance police officers. At that time, the senior investigating officer on the case, Captain James Hilles, was responsible for monitoring, via the "NPLEX" system, a watch list of persons making suspicious retail purchases of the precursor chemicals to make methamphetamine, including pseudoephedrine. As further discussed infra, appellant was on this watch list.

         {¶3} On the evening in question, the Alliance Police Department received an alert from the pharmacy in the West State Street Walmart that appellant had just purchased pseudoephedrine. Captain Hilles and Detective Bob Rajcan thereupon proceeded to said location in separate vehicles to investigate. The two officers were familiar with appellant and his vehicle, and Captain Hilles soon observed appellant's car on the road.

         {¶4} Captain Hilles thereupon radioed Detective Rajcan for backup, and then followed appellant as he drove up to an AutoZone automotive parts store on East State Street. After Detective Rajcan arrived, the officers watched appellant exit the store "with a small bag consistent with a bag that would have lithium batteries." Hilles Testimony, Suppression Transcript ("S.Tr.") at 16.

         {¶5} The officers proceeded to follow appellant's car after he departed the store. After reaching Summit Street, a traffic stop was effectuated. Captain Hilles ordered appellant out of his car at gunpoint, based on concerns that appellant might have an active mobile "meth lab" in the vehicle. The officers observed lithium batteries in plain sight on one of the car seats. Appellant was then placed under arrest for possessing chemicals to manufacture methamphetamine. Appellant was given his Miranda rights, and when he was asked for consent to a search of the residence at 450 McNally Court, he declined to give consent and denied said residence was his. S.Tr. at 23. Captain Hilles and other officers then proceeded to 450 McNally Court. They searched the trash, observing additional indicators of precursor chemicals, and then entered the house pursuant to R.C. 2933.33(A), infra. They later obtained and executed a search warrant for the house.

         {¶6} On October 31, 2016, Appellant Freeders was indicted on one count of illegal manufacture of drugs, R.C. 2925.04(A) (a felony of the first degree), and the illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs, R.C. 2925.041 (A) (a felony of the third degree). Appellant entered pleas of not guilty to both of the aforesaid charges.

         {¶7} On November 23, 2016, appellant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the traffic stop and warrantless entry/search of the house were illegal, and thus the evidence of a meth lab operation at the residence should have been suppressed.

         {¶8} On December 20, 2016, the trial court conducted an evidentiary hearing on appellant's suppression motion. The sole witness was Captain Hilles.

          {¶9} On January 23, 2017, the trial court issued a nine-page judgment entry overruling the motion to suppress.

         {¶10} On February 1, 2017, appellant appeared before the trial court and entered pleas of "no contest" to both of the aforesaid counts. Via a judgment entry issued on February 6, 2017, the trial court sentenced appellant to a prison term of four years for the offense of illegal manufacture of drugs, and a concurrent term of thirty-six months for the offense of illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs.

         {¶11} On March 3, 2017, appellant filed a notice of appeal. He herein raises the ...


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