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State v. Martin

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Warren

July 8, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Appellee,
v.
JESSICA MARTIN, Appellant.

          CRIMINAL APPEAL FROM WARREN COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No. 18CR034002

          David P. Fornshell, Warren County Prosecuting Attorney, Kirsten A. Brandt, for appellee

          Anzelmo Law, James A. Anzelmo, for appellant

          OPINION

          M. POWELL, J.

         {¶ 1} Appellant, Jessica Martin, appeals her convictions in the Warren County Court of Common Pleas for aggravated possession of drugs and possession of drug abuse instruments. For the reasons stated below, this court affirms in part, reverses in part, and remands for further proceedings.

         {¶ 2} In February 2018, police were dispatched to an apartment shared by appellant and her sister for a suspected drug overdose. Upon arrival, the police found appellant seated in the living room exhibiting symptoms consistent with an opiate overdose such as slurred speech and a general state of lethargy. One officer spoke with appellant while the second officer spoke to appellant's sister. Appellant's sister told the second officer that appellant had illicit drugs in her purse and appellant had hidden the purse in the sister's room.

         {¶ 3} After speaking with appellant's sister, the second officer told the first officer that there was a possibility appellant still possessed illegal drugs in a purse in the apartment. Overhearing this conversation, appellant told the officers that she did not own a purse.

         {¶ 4} Appellant's sister gave the second officer permission to search her room for appellant's purse. The officer found the purse under the bed and hidden behind a pillow. He brought the purse into the living room where appellant remained seated. As soon as appellant saw the second officer enter the room holding the purse, appellant spontaneously denied that the purse belonged to her. However, appellant's sister confirmed to the officers that it was, in fact, appellant's purse.

         {¶ 5} After hearing appellant disclaim ownership of the purse, the second officer opened the purse and found several capsules he believed to be heroin, syringes, and appellant's identification documents. Upon this discovery, the officers arrested appellant and had her transported to the hospital for treatment.

         {¶ 6} In April 2018, a Warren County Grand Jury indicted appellant for three offenses: two counts of aggravated possession of drugs, fifth-degree felonies, and one count of possession of drug abuse instruments, a second-degree misdemeanor.

         {¶ 7} Appellant entered not guilty pleas and moved to suppress the evidence obtained from the search of the purse. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied the motion because appellant's denial of ownership of the purse forfeited any reasonable expectation of privacy she may have had in its contents and alternatively that the possible presence of illicit drugs created an exigent circumstance justifying a warrantless search of the purse.

         {¶ 8} In July 2018, appellant withdrew her former pleas of not guilty and entered no contest pleas to the offenses as charged. The trial court sentenced her to a 12-month prison term for each of the felony offenses and 90 days in jail for the misdemeanor offense with all the sentences running concurrently, for an aggregate sentence of 12 months in prison. As part of the sentence, the trial court also ordered appellant to pay the costs of prosecution.

         {¶ 9} Appellant now appeals raising three assignments of error.

         {¶ 10} ...


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