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State v. Wiley

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

August 1, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
DEONTYE WILEY, Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-18-625495-A


          Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Caitlin E. Monter, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.

          Stephen L. Miles, for appellant.



         {¶ 1} Deontye Wiley ("Wiley") appeals from his convictions for drug trafficking, drug possession, and having weapons while under disability, as well as his four-year prison sentence. Wiley assigns the following errors for our review:

I. The trial court violated his double jeopardy rights by enhancing the weapons while under disability offense with a firearm specification.
II. The evidence was insufficient to support the convictions for drug trafficking, drug possession, and having weapon[s] while under disability.

         {¶ 2} Having reviewed the record and pertinent law, we affirm the trial court's judgment. The apposite facts follow.

         {¶ 3} Following complaints of drug activity and gun shots at 3213 Tate Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio, police began an investigation. Surveillance revealed numerous people entering and leaving the house, consistent with drug activity. After conducting a controlled drug buy at that address, police obtained a warrant to search the premises, which was executed in the early morning hours of January 26, 2018. Wiley was found alone upstairs in the home. Both police and Ohio Adult Parole Authority databases indicated that Wiley resided at that address. No lights were on in the house, although a television was on in one of the upstairs bedrooms.

         {¶ 4} Officers collected evidence forming the basis of Wiley's convictions from one of two adjoining rooms upstairs in the house: the previously mentioned bedroom with the television and the room adjacent to it, which is connected by a doorway. A detective described them as being set up as a "little efficiency." The first room contained a table, a microwave, and running water. The second room contained a bed, a dresser, a television, and a bookshelf. Although both rooms had doors that lead to the hallway, the bedroom door was blocked by the bookshelf, rendering the bedroom accessible only by way of the first room.

         {¶ 5} The search of the first room revealed several items described as being used in the manufacturing of crack cocaine: a beaker, a plastic lid, and some spoons, all of which tested positive for cocaine residue. Officers found plastic sandwich bags that they explained are used as drug packaging. Police also found a crack pipe in a plastic container.

         {¶ 6} In the bedroom, police discovered a bag of marijuana, [1] multiple scales that tested positive for cocaine and marijuana residue, five cell phones, and several rounds of 9 mm ammunition, including one spent bullet casing. On the dresser, police discovered three documents all bearing Wiley's name: a traffic citation, a booking sheet, and a document related to a municipal court case. Between the dresser and the bed, police found a locked safe. After opening the safe, officers discovered an operable, loaded 9 mm pistol, as well as crack cocaine and several packs of Newport cigarettes. One of the investigating detectives testified as to his conclusion that Wiley stayed in this bedroom and that he found no indication that anybody else stayed in it.

         {¶ 7} While police were conducting the search, Wiley admitted to them that he "messed around" with marijuana and cocaine. Although police found no drugs on his person, Wiley had $471 in his pocket, which, a detective explained, was an amount of money indicative of drug sales. Wiley further admitted that the marijuana that officers found in the bedroom was his: "I'm going to be real with you, that's my bud. I was smoking it." He also told the officers that he "mess[es] around with cocaine." Moreover, Wiley admitted that he smoked Newport cigarettes, the same brand found in the safe.

         Sufficiency of the Evidence

         {¶ 8} Wiley argues that there was insufficient evidence for conviction. He claims that there was no evidence that linked him to the drugs or the firearm found in the safe and that there was no evidence that established that he sold drugs or prepared drugs for sale. We disagree.

         {¶ 9} A challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence supporting a conviction requires this court to determine whether the state met its burden of production. State v. Hunter, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 86048, 2006-Ohio-20, ¶ 41, citing State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 390, 678 N.E.2d 541 (1997). When reviewing for sufficiency of the evidence, this court must determine "'whether, after viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt.'" State v. Leonard, 104 Ohio St.3d 54, 2004-Ohio-6235, 818 N.E.2d 229, ¶ 77, quoting State v. Jenks, 61 Ohio St.3d 259, 574 N.E.2d 492 (1991), paragraph two of the syllabus. In a sufficiency inquiry, this court does not assess whether the state's evidence is to be believed but instead whether, if believed, the evidence admitted at trial supported the conviction. State v. Starks, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 91682, 2009-Ohio-3375, ¶ 25, citing Thompkins at 387; Jenks at paragraph two of the syllabus.

         {¶ 10} R.C. 2925.03(A) proscribes drug trafficking and in relevant part provides:

No person shall knowingly * * * [p]repare for shipment, ship, transport, deliver, prepare for distribution, or distribute a controlled substance * * * when the offender knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the controlled substance * * * is ...

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