Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Lake
Criminal Appeal from the Lake County Court of Common Pleas,
Case No. 2016 CR 000368.
Charles E. Coulson, Lake County Prosecutor, and Jennifer A.
McGee, Assistant Prosecutor, Lake County Administration
Building, (For Plaintiff-Appellee).
Vanessa R. Clapp, Lake County Public Defender, and Melissa
Ann Blake, Assistant Public Defender, (For
Defendant-appellant, Bryan B. Mathis, appeals his
convictions, following a jury trial, in the Lake County Court
of Common Pleas, for Trafficking in Marijuana and Resisting
Arrest. The issues to be determined by this court are whether
a conviction for Trafficking in Marijuana is supported by the
evidence when the marijuana recovered from the defendant was
packaged separately and he was in possession of a large sum
of cash and whether a conviction for Resisting Arrest is
supported by the evidence when the defendant tried to flee
after he had already been handcuffed and placed in the police
cruiser and when he believed the arrest was unlawful. For the
following reasons, we affirm the decision of the court below.
On August 12, 2016, Mathis was indicted by the Lake County
Grand Jury for the following: Trafficking in Marijuana (Count
One), a felony of the fifth degree, in violation of R.C.
2925.03(A)(2); Possessing Criminal Tools (Count Two), a
felony of the fifth degree, in violation of R.C. 2923.24;
Resisting Arrest (Count Three), a misdemeanor of the second
degree, in violation of R.C. 2921.33(A); and Possession of
Marijuana (Count Four), a minor misdemeanor, in violation of
R.C. 2925.11. Counts One, Two, and Four also had R.C.
2941.1417 forfeiture specifications.
Mathis filed a Motion to Suppress and the trial court
suppressed statements made while he was questioned in a
police cruiser without being read his Miranda rights. The
court permitted the inclusion of marijuana obtained after
questioning pursuant to the doctrine of inevitable discovery.
A jury trial was held on June 19 and 20, 2018. Prior to voir
dire, the State moved to dismiss Counts Two and Four and the
accompanying forfeiture specifications. At trial, the
following testimony and evidence were presented on the
On April 3, 2016, at around 9 p.m., Patrolman Don Swindell of
the Mentor Police Department stopped a vehicle for a marked
lanes violation. Upon stopping the car, in which Mathis was a
passenger, Swindell discovered that it was a rental car.
During the stop, Swindell observed the odor of burnt
marijuana, which is indicative of smoking marijuana. He also
discovered that Mathis had a "prior traffic ticket"
that "he needed to deal with," removed him from the
vehicle, handcuffed him, and checked him for weapons. At that
time, he found that Mathis had large wads of currency in both
of his front pockets, which he testified was in different
denominations ranging from $5 to $50. Swindell did not
testify to the total amount of money recovered but stated
that Mathis' right pocket contained $1,
Mathis was then placed in the rear of Swindell's police
cruiser while he was awaiting confirmation on the traffic
ticket from another agency. While Mathis was in the cruiser,
Swindell smelled raw marijuana Swindell had Mathis exit the
vehicle, conducted a further search, and located a
"large baggie that contained smaller baggies of
prepackaged marijuana" in Mathis' underwear There
were eight separately packaged baggies "that were
similar in size and weight" In Swindell's opinion,
the weights of the marijuana and packaging, as well as the
way the money was carried, was consistent with distribution
of drugs Patrolman Ryan Heramb, who participated in the stop,
concurred with this opinion. Swindell also opined that the
use of rental cars was common among drug dealers and
traffickers, since the car driven while committing a
trafficking offense is subject to forfeiture.
Swindell testified that after the marijuana was recovered,
Mathis was told he would be arrested for trafficking. At that
time, Mathis attempted to run and Swindell and Heramb tried
to stop him. All three men fell, there was a struggle, and
the officers were able to get Mathis back into the police
Patrolman Michael Orf testified that a search of the vehicle
did not recover a wallet or drug paraphernalia such as
rolling paper or pipes. Cigarettes were recovered but there
was no marijuana found within the cigarettes.
William Koubek, a forensic analyst at the Lake County Crime
Laboratory, testified that the total amount of marijuana was
33.79 grams. The amount contained within the individual
baggies was 6.8, 6.7, 3.46, 3.41, 3.4, 3.38, 3.35, and 3.29
Sergeant Brad Kemp of the Lake County Narcotics Agency
testified that the packaging and weight of the drugs was
indicative of drug trafficking and he did not believe it
would be individually packaged if it was for personal use.
Typically drug dealers do not give multiple individual bags
to a purchaser of marijuana. He opined that the amount of
drugs in Mathis' possession was enough marijuana for 101
joints, which would also be inconsistent with personal use.
The weights of the marijuana baggies were consistent with a