Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Guernsey
from the Guernsey County Court of Common Pleas, Case No.
Plaintiff-Appellee JASON R. FARLEY Assistant Guernsey County
Defendant-Appellant MICHAEL GROH
JUDGES: Hon. John W. Wise, P.J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J.
Hon. Earle E. Wise, J.
Greta J. Oliver appeals the Guernsey County Court of Common
Pleas denial of her motion to suppress evidence. The State of
Ohio is Appellee.
OF FACTS AND THE CASE
A Terry search of Appellant led to the discovery of
illicit drugs in Appellant's pocket and charges of two
counts of Aggravated Possession of Drugs in violation of R.C.
2925.11(C)(1)(a), felonies of the fifth degree. Appellant
alleged the search exceeded the parameters of a
Terry search and filed a motion to suppress the
evidence discovered during the search. The trial court
disagreed and found the search was subject to the plain
feel doctrine. After the motion to suppress was denied,
Appellant entered a no contest plea and was found guilty of
one count of Aggravated Possession of Drugs in violation of
Detective Dustin Gerdau of the Cambridge, Ohio Police
Department, was on duty watching a house for suspected drug
activity. Appellant's vehicle stopped at the house,
stayed for about thirty minutes and left. Detective Gerdau
followed the vehicle and noticed that it did not have a
functional license plate light, a misdemeanor offense. He
stopped Appellant at approximately 2:00 AM and cited her for
a violation of local ordinance 74.05(A)(2) which prohibits
operation of a vehicle without a functioning license plate
After Appellant stopped, Detective Gerdau requested her
identification and the identification of her passenger, John
Work. He asked if Appellant had anything illegal in the car
and Appellant revealed that there was a knife in the car, but
she denied having any marijuana and stated she did not do
drugs. Detective Gerdau asked if he could search the vehicle
and she began exiting the car. The Detective asked her to
wait and that they would have her and her passenger exit
separately. During this time, another officer confirmed that
her passenger, John Work, was subject to a warrant for his
arrest. He was removed from the vehicle and placed under
arrest and in the back of a cruiser.
When Appellant exited the car, Detective Gerdau asked if she
had anything on her and if he could search her pockets. Her
response was unclear and he asked several times until she
stated that she did not want him to touch her. Detective
Gerdau admitted he did not have reason to search Appellant
and did not do so.
Patrolman Bridget L. Vickers arrived at the scene and was
ordered to watch Appellant during the search. Patrolman
Vickers was not told anything more about the situation and
did not know if the Appellant was the driver or the
passenger. She noticed that the Appellant was acting odd,
digging in her pockets and stating she was going to get sick.
She complained on several occasions of being ill and
suffering intestinal distress. The Patrolman thought
Appellant's behavior was suspicious and described her as
"going for the same side pocket and kind of leaning. I
believed she was trying to hide a weapon or something in that
pocket. She didn't want me to know what she was
doing." At that point she decided to conduct a search to
insure that she did not have any weapons.
Patrolman Vickers was a new officer, still in training, but
she had previously served in the Guernsey County Jail for two
and one half years, as well as three years in the juvenile
corrections system. During this time she was responsible for
searching persons coming into the jail. She testified that
she performed thousands of searches during her tenure in the
County Jail and the juvenile corrections system.
During the search of Appellant, Patrolman Vickers noticed a
small lump in the watch pocket of Appellant's jeans,
which had the consistency of a baggie sliding underneath the
cloth of the jeans. She testified that it was immediately
apparent to her that this was contraband, something that
should not have been there. She explained that
"[generally when people put things in that pocket and
it's a lump, and you feel that underneath the pocket,
it's drugs." She removed the item from
Appellant's pocket and discovered a plastic bag
containing a round tablet and a crystalline substance
identified afterward as methamphetamine. The tablet was
identified as Oxycodone. Patrolman Vickers testified her
expectation that she ...