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State v. Wilson

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton

June 20, 2018

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
SENECA WILSON, Defendant-Appellee.

          Criminal Appeal From: Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Trial No. B-1607098B.

          Joseph T. Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, and Sean M. Donovan, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

          Raymond T. Faller, Hamilton County Public Defender, and Demetra Stamatakos, Assistant Public Defender, for Defendant-Appellee.

          OPINION

          MYERS, JUDGE.

         {¶1} 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.

         Factual Background

         {¶2} 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.

         {¶3} 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.

         {¶4} 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 individual.

         {¶5} 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 Officer Fusselman.

         {¶6} 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 ...

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