Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Warren
CRIMINAL APPEAL FROM WARREN COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case
P. Fornshell, Warren County Prosecuting Attorney, Kirsten A.
Brandt, for appellee
Anzelmo Law, James A. Anzelmo, for appellant
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
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
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