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State v. Macklin

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Fairfield

July 25, 2018

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
COREY K. MACKLIN Defendant-Appellee

          Appeal from the Fairfield County Municipal Court, Case No. TRC 17 04125

          For Plaintiff-Appellant: MITCHELL R. HARDEN LANCASTER LAW DEPARTMENT

          For Defendant-Appellee: RICHARD A.L. PIATT

          Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P.J. Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, J. Hon. Earle E. Wise, Jr., J.

          OPINION

          DELANEY, J.

         {¶1} Appellant state of Ohio appeals from the August 30, 2017 Entry of the Fairfield County Municipal Court sustaining the motion to suppress of appellee Corey K. Macklin.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         {¶1} The following facts are adduced from the record of the suppression hearing on July 28, 2017. Prior to the suppression hearing, the parties stipulated the issues to be heard were "simply reasonable suspicion and probable cause to arrest." T. 5.

         {¶2} This case arose on April 3, 2017, around 4:10 a.m., when Sgt. Jason Bontrager of the Pickerington Police Department was on routine patrol on State Route 256 at 695 Hill Road North in Fairfield County. Bontrager observed a car in a parking-lot driveway with a female standing nearby. Bontrager observed that the vehicle had heavy front-end damage and stopped to ask the driver, identified as appellee, whether she had been in an accident. Appellee replied that she thought she had a broken axle.

         {¶3} Bontrager believed the damage to be worse than a broken axle and asked appellee what caused the vehicle's airbags to deploy. Appellee responded that she thought she might have fallen asleep at the wheel. Appellee was wearing slippers and what Bontrager described as "bed clothes." She said she had been working at Tim Hortons and hadn't had any sleep, and she may have fallen asleep at the wheel.

         {¶4} Bontrager observed tire marks going off the roadway "to the side over by a creek." Bontrager realized he was investigating a crash and not merely a disabled vehicle. He found appellee's attitude to be "odd" because she was "nonchalant," "not really caring," and "laissez-faire" despite the fact that her vehicle apparently drove through a creek.

         {¶5} Bontrager did not smell any odor of alcohol. He noted appellee's eyes were "droopy" and her pupils were dilated; at times she slurred her speech. He asked where appellee was coming from and she said she had worked at Tim Hortons and was tired because she hadn't slept. Bontrager asked if appellee had smoked marijuana recently but she said she had not "for a day or so." T. 14. Appellee denied having any head injuries and refused medical attention.

         {¶6} After describing the circumstances above, appellant attempted to question Bontrager about the administration of standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs). We note portions of the record are unintelligible and therefore not transcribed. Bontrager testified he was originally trained on the 2013 version of the NHTSA manual but not, apparently, the version of the manual the prosecutor tried to question him about. Appellee objected and the trial court ruled Bontrager could not testify as an expert about the SFSTs. Instead, he could testify to his general "observations." Bontrager then testified appellee swayed back and forth and couldn't keep her balance.

         {¶7} Bontrager arrested appellee based upon the evidence of her dilated pupils, droopy eyes, slurred speech, impaired movement, and "carefree attitude" about a serious crash, combined with the fact that the vehicle had gone off the roadway.

         {¶8} After appellee was arrested, a marijuana pipe was found in her pocket and a vehicle inventory turned up baggies containing "vegetation."

         {¶9} On August 30, 2017, via Entry, the trial court sustained appellee's motion to ...


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