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State v. Sowers

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Muskingum

June 18, 2018

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
SABIN J. SOWERS Defendant-Appellant

          Criminal Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas, Case No. CR2017-0162

          For Plaintiff-Appellee D. MICHAEL HADDOX PROSECUTING ATTORNEY GERALD V. ANDERSON II ASSISTANT PROSECUTOR.

          For Defendant-Appellant ERIC J. ALLEN THE LAW OFFICE of ERIC J. ALLEN, LTD.

          Hon. John W. Wise, P. J. Hon. William B. Hoffman, J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J.

          OPINION

          Wise, P. J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Sabin J. Sowers appeals his conviction on one count of receiving stolen property entered in the Muskingum County Court of Common Pleas following a jury trial.

         {¶2} Plaintiff-appellee is the State of Ohio.

         STATEMENT OF THE FACTS AND CASE

         {¶3} The relevant facts and procedural history are as follows:

         {¶4} On March 13, 2017, Ronald Scurlock noticed that large truck batteries were missing from pallets, as well as from various vehicles in and outside of the buildings on the premises of a business he owns in Trinway, Ohio. On March 14, 2017, he noticed more batteries missing. Scurlock started calling local scrapyards in search of the batteries. When he spoke with Fred Polk of Polk's Scrapyard he learned that someone had brought in a large quantity of batteries of the type that Scurlock reported stolen. Scurlock went to Polk's to verify if they were his batteries and to find out who had brought the batteries in. Polk informed Scurlock that two males in a truck brought in a truck bed full of batteries. Polk said that he thought it was suspicious that men had this many large truck batteries. Polk said that because he was suspicious, he unloaded the batteries onto their own pallet and set them aside. Polk stated that Appellant Sabin J. Sowers provided his ID and signed the receipt for payment for scrapping the batteries. Polk paid Appellant $498.00 for 1, 780 lbs of batteries. Polk's has video surveillance of Appellant weighing the truck in and weighing it out after unloading the batteries.

         {¶5} Scurlock said he was able to confirm that the batteries were his based on the quantity and types. He also had batteries cut from his vehicles, instead of being disconnected, and there was a battery that still had cables connected to the battery but with the wire cut that would have attached to the vehicle.

         {¶6} A deputy arrived and took a report, inventoried the types of batteries, the quantities, and the value of each battery Appellant had brought into Polk's. A surveillance video showed that the person who brought in the batteries drove a black Ford Ranger with a distinct sticker on the tailgate. Polk would not divulge the name of the person who brought in the batteries, but he indicated to Scurlock that the person came from up north. Scurlock interpreted that to mean Dresden, a small conjoining village to Trinway. Based on this information, Scurlock drove around Dresden looking for the truck, which he found parked outside Appellant's apartment. Inside the truck bed was an additional load of batteries. Scurlock went to the Dresden Police Station and asked Chief Caldwell to return with him, showing the Chief the truck full of batteries.

         {¶7} Chief Caldwell was familiar with the truck, the residence, Appellant, and Appellant's co-defendant, Shawn King. He knew that the truck belonged to Shawn King's brother, who was incarcerated at the time, and he knew that Shawn King had been using the truck. He also had personally seen Shawn King and Appellant driving around in that truck multiple times, and knew that Shawn King was living with Appellant. He also knew that Appellant lived at the apartment where the truck was parked. Chief Caldwell had Scurlock leave the premises and had called other officers to respond to the scene. While at the scene, Shawn King exited Appellant's residence to approach the truck. Inside the truck were many batteries, the same type as those stolen from Scurlock's business and scrapped at Polk's.

         {¶8} On or about April 5, 2017, Sabin J. Sowers, Defendant-Appellant ("Appellant"), was indicted on one count of Receiving Stolen Property ($1, 000 - $7, 500), in violation of R.C. ยง2913.51 (A), a felony of the fifth ...


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