Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton
Criminal Appeal From: Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas
Trial No. B-1607098B.
T. Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, and Sean M.
Donovan, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for
Raymond T. Faller, Hamilton County Public Defender, and
Demetra Stamatakos, Assistant Public Defender, for
The state of Ohio has appealed from the trial court's
entry granting defendant-appellee Seneca Wilson's motion
to suppress. We hold that the trial court erred in granting
the suppression motion, and accordingly reverse its decision.
Wilson was arrested after police discovered a marijuana
cigarette, a digital scale, and a bag of marijuana in his
vehicle. The grand jury returned an indictment charging
Wilson with two counts of trafficking in marijuana and one
count of possession of marijuana.
Wilson filed a motion to suppress all evidence that the state
sought to introduce. At the suppression hearing, Cincinnati
Police Officer Andrew Fusselman testified that he was
investigating a potential drug transaction between two
individuals, when Wilson approached him and asked what the
police were doing. Officer Fusselman immediately noticed a
strong odor of burnt marijuana on Wilson's person. When
asked why he smelled of marijuana, Wilson stated that there
was a joint in his car, which was parked nearby. Officer
Fusselman's partner saw a marijuana cigarette in the
center console cup holder of Wilson's vehicle.
Officer Fusselman asked Wilson if the officers would find
anything else in the vehicle, and Wilson stated that the car
also contained a bag of marijuana. Wilson unlocked his
vehicle for the officers to search. The marijuana cigarette,
a digital scale, and a plastic bag containing marijuana were
found in the car. Officer Fusselman then searched
Wilson's person, but nothing was recovered. Officer
Fusselman testified that, following the personal search, he
was informed by another officer that shortly before
Wilson's interaction with Officer Fusselman, the officer
had conducted a pat-down search of Wilson. During that
pat-down, the officer had found, but had not confiscated, a
large amount of cash on Wilson. That officer had permitted
Wilson to leave the scene of the investigation, and witnessed
Wilson walk down the street and speak with another
After receiving this information, Officer Fusselman walked
down the street and spoke to the individual identified by his
fellow officer. When asked by Officer Fusselman what Wilson
had given to him, the individual stated that Wilson had given
him money. He gave that money, approximately $2, 700, to
The trial court granted Wilson's motion to suppress.
It's entry included the following findings:
The Court finds that one of the officers frisked the
Defendant and found nothing on him. This was a valid
Terry stop at that point. They detained him for
approximately 15 more minutes. This was illegal because
nothing was found on the Terry pat-down (frisk). The
Court finds that one of the officers then saw something in
Defendant's car, which appeared to be, according to the
officer, a marijuana cigarette.
The statements, the evidence, including marijuana found in
the car and the scale found in the car, are the result of an
illegal search due to the illegal detention.
The money was seized also as a result of an illegal search of
a third party because it was based on a statement made by the
Defendant to the officers while he was being detained ...