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State v. Slaughter

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton

January 12, 2018

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
TYRONE SLAUGHTER, Defendant-Appellant.

         Criminal Appeals From: Hamilton County Municipal Court TRIAL NOS. 16TRC-37026A 16TRC-37026B 16TRC-37026C

         Judgments Appealed From Are: Affirmed in C-170110 and C-170112; Appeal

          Paula Boggs Muething, City Solicitor, Natalia Harris, City Prosecutor, and Christopher Liu, Appellate Director, for Plaintiff-Appellee,

          Raymond T. Faller, Hamilton County Public Defender, and Carrie Wood, Assistant Public Defender, for Defendant-Appellant.

          OPINION

          Deters, Judge.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Tyrone Slaughter appeals his convictions, following his no-contest pleas, for operating a vehicle with a prohibited breath-alcohol content and a marked-lanes violation. In this appeal, he argues that the trial court erred by overruling his motion to suppress evidence on the basis that an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper lacked probable cause or a reasonable and articulable suspicion to stop his vehicle for a marked-lanes violation.

         {¶2} The trial court based its decision to overrule the motion on a second marked-lanes violation that it noted after viewing a video recording taken from the trooper's cruiser camera. But the trooper testified he had not seen that violation. Since the trooper's unrebutted testimony was that he had witnessed a prior marked-lanes violation, and that testimony was not inconsistent with the video recording of the traffic stop, the trooper had reasonable and articulable suspicion to stop Slaughter's vehicle. We, thus, affirm the trial court's judgments albeit for reasons other than those stated by the trial court.

         Trial Court Proceedings

         {¶3} Slaughter was charged with operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol ("OVI") in violation of R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(a), having a prohibited breath-alcohol content under R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(d), and crossing marked lanes in violation of R.C. 4511.33. Slaughter filed a motion to suppress all the evidence against him on the basis that the officer lacked reasonable articulable suspicion or probable cause to stop his vehicle.

         {¶4} At the suppression hearing, Slaughter stipulated that he had been arrested without a warrant. Trooper Alex Burnett testified that he was in a uniform and in a marked cruiser on patrol on North Bend Road when he observed a Nissan Altima ahead of him traveling out of its lane. He testified the vehicle was in the left lane and it traveled to the right approximately one to two feet. He sped up to catch the vehicle and signaled to the driver to pull over. He then came into contact with Slaughter, who was driving the vehicle. After administering field-sobriety tests, he arrested Slaughter for OVI.

         {¶5} The video from Trooper Burnett's cruiser camera was admitted into evidence and played during the suppression hearing. As the video was playing, defense counsel questioned Trooper Burnett about the basis for the traffic stop. The video showed a vehicle ahead of Trooper Burnett that turned right onto one of the north-south streets. Trooper Burnett testified that while it was difficult to see on the video, he had then followed a red Nissan Altima. He saw the marked-lanes violation and sped up to stop the vehicle. The video showed that Slaughter had committed a second marked-lanes violation near the intersection of North Bend Road and Hamilton Avenue when he had driven his vehicle partly into the left-turn lane and then back into the adjoining lane, before proceeding straight through the traffic light. Trooper Burnett testified, however, that he had not seen that marked-lanes violation.

         {¶6} On cross-examination, Trooper Burnett testified that even though he was 100-110 meters behind Slaughter's vehicle, he had a clear and unobstructed view of the marked-lanes violation. He acknowledged it was difficult to see this violation on the video because "the blur from the traffic lights and the headlights of the other vehicles had blurred out some of the violation."

         {¶7} The trial court overruled the motion to suppress. It found that Trooper Burnett had probable cause to stop Slaughter based on the second marked-lanes violation depicted on the video. Shortly thereafter, Slaughter pled no contest to OVI with a prohibited concentration of alcohol and the marked-lanes violation. The trial court accepted the pleas and found Slaughter guilty. It dismissed the remaining OVI charge.

         {¶8} In a single assignment of error, Slaughter argues the trial court erred in ...


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