Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery
from Common Pleas Court - Juvenile Division Trial Court Case
MATHIAS H. HECK, JR., by HEATHER N. JANS, Attorney for
ALAN BRENNER, Attorney for Defendant-Appellant.
1} E.A.E. ("Evan"),  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.
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.
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.
Motion to Suppress
5} The first assignment of error alleges:
TRIAL COURT ERRED BY OVERRULING THE MOTION TO SUPPRESS
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 ...