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In re E.A.E.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

July 5, 2019

IN RE: E.A.E.

          Appeal from Common Pleas Court - Juvenile Division Trial Court Case No. 2018-580

          MATHIAS H. HECK, JR., by HEATHER N. JANS, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          ROBERT ALAN BRENNER, Attorney for Defendant-Appellant.

          OPINION

          HALL, J.

         {¶ 1} E.A.E. ("Evan"), [1] a minor, appeals from adjudication and dispositional orders of the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, Juvenile Division, finding him responsible for one count of Sexual Battery, in violation of R.C. 2907.03(A)(2), which would be a felony of the third degree if committed by an adult.

         I. Procedural History

         {¶ 2} On February 4, 2018, Evan was charged with one count of rape under R.C. 2907.02(A)(1)(a) and one count of sexual battery under R.C. 2907.03(A)(2), for an incident that occurred two days earlier. Evan denied both charges. Evan moved to suppress statements that he made during an interview with police officers. A hearing on the motion was held, and the trial court overruled the suppression motion. An adjudicatory hearing was held, and on October 24, 2018, the trial court found Evan not responsible for the charge of rape but found him delinquent for committing sexual battery. Evan was given a suspended commitment to the Department of Youth Services and ordered to complete probation.

         {¶ 3} Evan appeals.

         II. Analysis

         {¶ 4} Evan presents two assignments of error for our review. The first challenges the trial court's suppression decision, and the second challenges the manifest weight of the evidence.

         A. Motion to Suppress

         {¶ 5} The first assignment of error alleges:

         THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY OVERRULING THE MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE.

         {¶ 6} Evan argues that the trial court should have suppressed his statements to the police.

         {¶ 7} "Appellate review of a ruling on a motion to suppress presents a mixed question of law and fact. State v. Burnside, 100 Ohio St.3d 152, 2003-Ohio-5372, 797 N.E.2d 71, ¶ 8. An appellate court must accept the trial court's findings of fact if they are supported by competent, credible evidence. See State v. Fanning, 1 Ohio St.3d 19, 20, 437 N.E.2d 583 (1982). But the appellate court must decide the legal questions independently, without deference to the trial court's decision. Burnside at ¶ 8." State v. Banks-Harvey, 152 Ohio St.3d 368, 2018-Ohio-201, 96 N.E.3d 262, ¶ 14.

         {¶ 8} Appellate courts give great deference to the factual findings of the trier of fact. "At a suppression hearing, the trial court serves as the trier of fact, and must judge the credibility of witnesses and the weight of the evidence. The trial court is in the best position to resolve questions of fact and evaluate witness credibility. In reviewing a trial court's decision on a motion to suppress, an appellate court accepts the trial court's factual findings, relies on the trial court's ability to assess the credibility of witnesses, and independently determines whether the trial court applied the proper legal standard to the facts as found. An appellate court is bound to accept the trial ...


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