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State v. Moore

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Warren

May 7, 2018

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,


          David P. Fornshell, Warren County Prosecuting Attorney, Kirsten A. Brandt, 520 Justice Drive, Lebanon, Ohio 45036, for plaintiff-appellee

          Kim Bui, 8080 Beckett Center Drive, Suite 112, West Chester, Ohio 45069, for defendant-appellant



         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Allison Elizabeth Moore, appeals from a decision of the Warren County Court of Common Pleas denying her motion to suppress evidence. Appellant further appeals the trial court's imposition of a 36-month prison sentence for her conviction for tampering with evidence. For the reasons detailed below, we affirm appellant's conviction and sentence.

         {¶ 2} On December 25, 2016, a dead body was found in the middle of Montgomery Avenue in Warren County, Ohio. An investigation by the Warren County Sheriffs Office (WCSO) revealed that Jeremy Foxx had been shot in the back of the head by Zachary Wilson while inside of a vehicle. Appellant was also inside the vehicle when the shooting occurred. Appellant attempted to clean up the blood in the vehicle before helping to burn or depose of the items used to clean the vehicle. Appellant and Wilson then drove to Kentucky, where the vehicle they were driving was painted and disguised.

         {¶ 3} On December 27, 2016, a warrant was issued for Wilson's arrest. Detectives with the WCSO contacted Wilson's mother to notify her of the warrant, as she had been aiding the officers in their effort to track down Wilson. Wilson's mother informed the detectives that she had picked up Wilson and appellant in Kentucky and was bringing them to the sheriff's office. After Wilson and appellant arrived at the WCSO around 5:30 p.m. on December 27, 2016, Wilson was arrested. Appellant took a nap at the WCSO before being interviewed by detectives. Following this interview, appellant left the sheriff's office with her mother.

         {¶ 4} Appellant was subsequently indicted on one count of tampering with evidence in violation of R.C. 2921.12(A)(1), a felony of the third degree. She filed a motion to suppress her December 27, 2016 statement to law enforcement, arguing the statement was obtained in violation of her constitutional rights as the detectives failed to advise her of her Miranda rights prior to the interrogation. She also claimed her statement was not voluntary as she was under the influence of narcotics at the time of the interview.

         {¶ 5} A hearing on appellant's motion to suppress was held on April 20, 2017. The state introduced, and the trial court accepted into evidence, an audio and video recording of appellant's December 27, 2016 interview, which lasted approximately 55 minutes. The state called Detective Paul Barger as its sole witness. Barger explained that at the time Wilson's mother brought Wilson and appellant to the WCSO on December 27, 2016, only an arrest warrant for Wilson had been issued. Neither he nor any other detective asked Wilson's mother to bring appellant to the sheriffs office.

         {¶ 6} Once Wilson and appellant arrived at the sheriffs office, they were both placed in handcuffs for officer safety. After appellant was patted down, she was taken into the front training room of the WCSO and the handcuffs were removed. While Wilson was being interviewed for approximately two hours, appellant was left in the training room. Appellant was given a can of soda and a blanket, and she fell asleep.

         {¶ 7} Once Wilson's interview was over, appellant was brought into the interview room to be questioned by Barger and Detective Wyatt. Appellant was not provided with Miranda warnings at this time. Barger informed appellant that she was not under arrest and was free to leave. Appellant was asked numerous times if she was "okay" to talk with the detectives and whether she wanted to talk to them. Appellant told Barger and Wyatt that she wanted to talk to them and "wanted to get the information out there that it was self-defense." Barger testified that although the door to the interview room was closed for privacy, appellant's path to the door was free and clear.

         {¶ 8} Appellant was not in handcuffs or otherwise restrained during the interview. Barger testified appellant gave "very specific, very precise" details about the events surrounding the shooting. Although it took appellant "a little bit to answer some of the questions because she wanted to make sure she had them correct, " she was able to provide information "as to where they had gone, what gas stations they had stopped at, how they had gotten lost, whose houses they went to, [and] people she talked to." Appellant did not act in a manner that gave Barger concern that she was under the influence of any substance. When questioned by Barger and Wyatt as to whether she was under the influence, appellant stated, "no."

         {¶ 9} Barger testified appellant was not threatened or coerced at any time during the interview. Barger explained that the interview was stopped after about 55 minutes, once the detectives sensed appellant was getting tired. Prior to leaving the sheriffs office with her mother, appellant told the detectives that if they needed anything else, they could contact her and she would be willing to talk to them some more.

         {¶ 10} Following Barger's testimony, appellant took the stand and admitted she voluntarily went to the sheriffs office with Wilson and his mother. She stated that she knew there was an arrest warrant for Wilson and she believed the detectives wanted to speak with her. Appellant estimated that she was in handcuffs for approximately 10 to 15 minutes upon her arrival of WCSO, but stated she was uncuffed after she was "patted * * * down and [they] made sure I didn't have anything on me."

         {¶ 11} Appellant testified that at the time of the interview, she was so tired, sick, and traumatized that she barely understood what she was saying and it took her a long time to process what she was being asked by the detectives. Appellant stated she had taken a Xanax and was "coming off of meth" at the time she arrived at the sheriffs office. She claimed she informed an officer of her drug use while waiting in the training room. Although she was told by Barger and Wyatt that she could stop the interview and leave at any time, appellant stated she felt like she could not leave until she gave a statement because ...

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