Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Tuscarawas
from the Tuscarawas County Court of Common Pleas, Case No.
2017 CR 05 0120
Plaintiff-Appellant: MICHAEL J. ERNEST Assistant Prosecuting
Attorney Tuscarawas County Prosecutor's Office
Defendant-Appellee: MARK A. PERLAKY Assistant Public Defender
Tuscarawas County Public Defender
W. Scott Gwin, P.J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J. Hon. Earle E.
Plaintiff-appellant State of Ohio appeals from the October
31, 2017 Judgment Entry of the Tuscarawas County Court of
Common Pleas granting the Motion to Suppress filed by
defendant-appellee Desirra N. Skeens.
OF THE FACTS AND CASE
On May 19, 2017, the Tuscarawas County Grand Jury indicted
appellee on one count of possession of cocaine in violation
of R.C. 2925.11 (A) and (C)(4)(a), a felony of the fifth
degree. At her arraignment on June 9, 2017, appellee entered
a plea of not guilty to the charge.
Appellee, on August 2, 2017, filed a Motion to Suppress.
Appellee, in her motion, argued that the arresting officer
did not have reasonable and articulable suspicion or probable
cause to stop appellee's vehicle and did not have
reasonable and articulable suspicion to prolong
appellee's detention in order to wait for a drug-sniffing
canine to arrive.
A hearing on the Motion to Suppress was held on September 18,
2017. At the hearing, Sergeant Joel Smith of the Ohio State
Highway Patrol testified that he was traveling southbound on
Interstate 77 on October 25, 2016 in a marked patrol car when
he observed the vehicle in which appellee was traveling
following too close to another vehicle. Sergeant Smith
stopped the vehicle and had the driver exit the same and come
over to the patrol car. He testified that he asked the man
for his driver's license and the man told Sergeant Smith
that he did not have a license because it had been suspended.
Sergeant Smith testified that the man told him that they were
coming from Cleveland and going back to West Virginia after
visiting his cousin and that "she [appellee] was with
him for the ride and a friend rented the car."
Transcript at 6-7. Neither appellee nor the driver knew who
had rented the car. Appellee did not know the driver's
first name, even though she indicated that she had known him
since June, and the driver did not know appellee's name.
Sergeant Smith then called for the canine handler to the
scene to conduct a sniff of the exterior of the vehicle.
Approximately seven minutes after the traffic stop was
initiated, the canine unit arrived on the scene. After the
canine indicated to the odor of narcotics coming from inside
the vehicle, appellee was placed in the back seat of the
patrol car while a search of the vehicle was conducted. No
narcotics were found in the vehicle.
On cross-examination, Sergeant Smith admitted that he did not
indicate that the driver of the vehicle in which appellee was
a passenger was impaired, did not smell any odor of narcotics
in the vehicle, and did not indicate in his report anything
On redirect, Sergeant Smith testified that after the search
of the vehicle was completed, he had appellee step out of the
patrol car and reviewed his in-car video. He testified that
the video recorded the driver of the vehicle asking appellee
"You don't have anything on you do you?" and
appellee responding "Well yeah, I have a few but
it's up inside me." Transcript at 24. After Sergeant
Smith confronted appellee, she voluntarily retrieved the
cocaine from her pants.
Following the testimony, a video of the traffic stop was