Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Belmont
Criminal Appeal from the Belmont County Court, Western
Division, of Belmont County, Ohio Case No. 17 TR D 00016.
Daniel P. Fry, Belmont County Prosecutor and Atty. Marlin J.
Harper, for Appellee
L. Vargo, Pro se Appellant
BEFORE: Cheryl L. Waite, Gene Donofrio, Carol Ann Robb,
OPINION AND JUDGMENT ENTRY
Appellant, Edward L. Vargo, pro se, appeals his
conviction following a bench trial in the Western Division of
Belmont County Court. Appellant was found guilty of violating
Ordinance 331.04, captioned "Overtaking and Passing On
Right," a minor misdemeanor. Following his conviction,
the trial court imposed a fine in the amount of $150.00.
Appellant contends that his conviction is against the
manifest weight of the evidence, and that the trial court
erred when it considered a grainy surveillance video that was
neither turned over to Appellant nor played at the trial. For
the following reasons, Appellant's conviction is
On December 15, 2016 at approximately 7:00 p.m., Appellant
and his wife, Merry Vargo, were traveling southbound on North
Chestnut Street in St. Clairsville in a Jeep Wrangler. The
Vargos' automobile was directly behind a Pontiac G6
driven by Jessica Shrewsbury. North Chestnut Street is a
two-lane highway, with parallel parking spaces on both sides
of the street. According to Appellant's testimony, he was
travelling at a speed of fifteen to twenty miles per hour.
When Shrewsbury slowed her vehicle for the traffic light at
the intersection of Main Street, she activated her left turn
signal. Appellant began to pass her vehicle on the right
while still in the single lane of traffic. Merry testified
that she saw Shrewsbury's left turn signal flash at least
At some point, Shrewsbury decided to turn right instead of
left onto North Main Street. Appellant testified that when he
realized Shrewsbury was turning right he blew the horn and
hit his brake, expecting that Shrewsbury would realize that
he was to her right and stop her car. However, Shrewsbury
continued her right turn onto North Main Street, colliding
with the driver's side of the Jeep and tearing off the
left front flare and front bumper. Appellant testified that
he turned into the westbound lane on Main Street in an effort
to avoid further damage to his Jeep.
Shrewsbury continued on North Main Street with Appellant in
pursuit. She stopped at the next intersection.
When Shrewsbury exited the car, she told Appellant that she
did nothing wrong. Shrewsbury's passenger, who claimed to
be her brother, told Appellant that the accident was
Shrewsbury's fault and asked Appellant not to involve the
police because they could "work [it] out." (Trial
Tr., p. 18.) Neither Appellant nor his wife had a mobile
phone, but several businesses were within walking distance.
Shrewsbury's passenger told Appellant that Shrewsbury had
insurance, but no insurance card. He explained that
Shrewsbury's husband had "totaled" his truck
the previous week and that he probably had the insurance
card. They exchanged information, and Shrewsbury's
passenger promised that Shrewsbury would contact Appellant
the following day to make arrangements to repair the Jeep.
Appellant filed an accident report on December 16, 2016.
Following a police investigation of the crash, Appellant was
cited for illegally passing Shrewsbury on the right.
The matter proceeded to trial on January 19, 2016. Prior to
trial, Appellant explained to the trial court that he sought
legal representation but was told that his case was "too
trivial" and that he would represent himself. (Trial
Tr., p. 20.) The trial court heard testimony from Barnesville
Police Department Patrolman Cody ...