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State v. Cutlip

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Summit

February 28, 2018

STATE OF OHIO Appellee
v.
ERIC CUTLIP Appellant

         APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE STOW MUNICIPAL COURT COUNTY OF SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. 2016 TRC 08790

          KRISTOPHER K. HILL and THOMAS J. DEBACCO, Attorneys at Law, for Appellant.

          MARK V. GUIDETTI, Law Director, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          JENNIFER HENSAL JUDGE

         {¶1} Eric Cutlip appeals his convictions for operating a vehicle under the influence and failure to stop after an accident in the Stow Municipal Court. For the following reasons, this Court affirms in part and reverses in part.

         I.

         {¶2} On the evening of June 16, 2016, Mr. Cutlip lost control of his vehicle, drove off the road, and crashed into a mailbox before landing upside down in a ditch. He crawled out of the vehicle and went into the nearby woods, returning to the scene about 50 minutes later. By then, emergency personnel had arrived. After Mr. Cutlip identified himself as the driver of the vehicle, Officer Michael Plesz arrested him for failure to stop after an accident. Back at the police station, the officer had Mr. Cutlip perform field sobriety tests. Following those tests, Officer Plesz also charged Mr. Cutlip with operating a vehicle under the influence.

         {¶3} Mr. Cutlip moved to suppress the evidence against him, arguing that Officer Plesz did not have probable cause to arrest him because the accident did not occur on a public road. He also argued that the field sobriety tests were not conducted in substantial compliance with national standards. Following a hearing, the municipal court denied his motion. A jury found him guilty of the offenses, and the court sentenced him to 180 days in jail. Mr. Cutlip has appealed, assigning two errors.

         II.

ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR I
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING APPELLANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS, AS THERE WAS NO PROBABLE CAUSE TO ARREST APPELLANT WITH A VIOLATION OF MACEDONIA ORDINANCE 335.12. ALL EVIDENCE AND CHARGES OBTAINED, AFTER THE INITIAL ARREST, ARE FRUIT OF THE POISONOUS TREE.

         {¶4} Mr. Cutlip argues that the court incorrectly denied his motion to suppress. A motion to suppress presents a mixed question of law and fact:

When considering a motion to suppress, the trial court assumes the role of trier of fact and is therefore in the best position to resolve factual questions and evaluate the credibility of witnesses. Consequently, an appellate court must accept the trial court's findings of fact if they are supported by competent, credible evidence. Accepting these facts as true, the appellate court must then independently determine, without deference to the conclusion of the trial court, whether the facts satisfy the applicable legal standard.

         (Internal citations omitted.) State v. Burnside, 100 Ohio St.3d ...


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