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State v. Turner

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Champaign

July 20, 2018

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
ERIC J. TURNER Defendant-Appellant

          Criminal Appeal from Common Pleas Trial Court Case No. 2017-CR-15

          JANE A. NAPIER, Champaign County Prosecutor's Office, Appellate Division, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          JOE CLOUD, Attorney for Defendant-Appellant.

          OPINION

          FROELICH, J.

         {¶ 1} Eric J. Turner appeals from a judgment of the Champaign County Court of Common Pleas, which found him guilty on his guilty pleas of three offenses: failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer; operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol (OVI); and aggravated possession of drugs. Specifically, Turner appeals from the trial court's order that he pay restitution to the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) in the amount of $26, 897.41, based on physical damage caused to an OSHP cruiser after Turner failed to comply with an order to stop, fled from an officer, and collided with the cruiser.

         {¶ 2} For the following reasons, the judgment of the trial court will be affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings.

         Procedural History

         {¶ 3} The events in question occurred on January 1, 2017, when Turner willfully eluded an officer after being signaled to stop and ultimately crashed his car into an OSHP cruiser. On January 5, 2017, Turner was indicted for failure to comply, vandalism (of the cruiser), receiving stolen property (a stolen license plate on the car he was driving), OVI, and aggravated possession of drugs (Percocet). On April 17, 2017, Turner entered into a plea agreement wherein he pled guilty to failure to comply, OVI, and aggravated possession; the other charges were dismissed.

         {¶ 4} On May 15, 2017, a restitution and sentencing hearing was held. At the hearing, two OSHP officers testified; the responsibilities of these officers included estimating damage to OSHP cruisers, determining when to purchase new vehicles and, with respect to older vehicles, when to repair them and when to "decommission" them and send them to salvage. These officers testified that Cruiser 1252, which was hit by Turner, had been "at its end of life" at the time of the collision, based on its mileage and years of service. Its estimated value prior to the crash was $8, 805, and the amount of damage from the crash was estimated to be $6, 000 or more, based on damage to its body and undercarriage. However, OSHP generally does not repair vehicles if damage exceeds 50% of the value, so Cruiser 1252 was taken out of service. The replacement vehicle, with "upfilling costs," was $26, 897.41. OSHP was self-insured.

         {¶ 5} At the hearing, Turner's attorney expressed Turner's willingness to "acknowledge his responsibility" and pay restitution, but the attorney argued that the amount of restitution sought by the State - based on the replacement cost of a cruiser, rather than the repair cost of Cruiser 1252 or the value of that cruiser prior to the accident - was not appropriate.

         {¶ 6} Turner was sentenced to 36 months of imprisonment for failure to comply, six months for OVI, and 11 months for aggravated possession; the first two sentences were to be served concurrently, but consecutively to the sentence for aggravated possession, for an aggregate term of 47 months. Turner was fined a total of $2, 250, and he was ordered to pay restitution to OSHP (payable to the state treasurer) in the amount of $26, 897.41.

         {¶ 7} Turner appeals, raising three assignments of error, all of which relate to the order of restitution.

         Restitution

         {¶ 8} R.C. 2929.18(A) governs the imposition of financial sanctions and authorizes a trial court to ...


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