FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF
SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. CR-2018-01-0248
M. O'BRIEN, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.
BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and HEAVEN DIMARTINO
GUEST, Assistnat Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
A. SCHAFER, JUDGE.
Defendant-Appellant, Dominique J. Adams, appeals from his
conviction in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas. For
the reasons that follow, this Court affirms.
In February of 2018, the Summit County Grand Jury issued an
indictment charging Mr. Adams with one count of having
weapons while under disability in violation of R.C.
2923.13(A)(3), a felony of the third degree, and one count of
improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle in violation
of RC. 2923.16(B), a felony of the fourth degree. The charges
stem from an incident on January 23, 2018, when Akron police
initiated a traffic stop of the 2018 Ford Expedition vehicle
Mr. Adams was driving. The police decided to stop the vehicle
after they observed that the rear lights of the vehicle were
not illuminated, which they determined to be a safety issue
and a traffic violation. After officers approached the
vehicle, one of the officers observed a gun in the back seat
and discovered that the weapon was loaded.
Mr. Adams entered a plea of not guilty to both charges. He
filed a motion to suppress contending that, although they
stopped his vehicle because it had no tail lights,
"there was no probable cause for the police officer to
look inside the vehicle, and as a practical matter it is
highly doubtful that the police officer would be able to
observe a dark colored handgun in the back of a dark vehicle
at 1:30 [a.m.]" Accordingly, Mr. Adams argued that
officers lacked a basis for seizing the gun in his vehicle
and sought to suppress the introduction of the weapon at
The trial court held a hearing on the motion. The transcript
of the suppression hearing reflects that Mr. Adams abandoned
the initial argument raised in his motion. At the beginning
of the suppression hearing, the State informed the trial
court as follows:
We are here this afternoon on [Mr. Adams]'s motion to
suppress. It is my understanding that the issue here is - -
it is a traffic stop, ultimately a gun is found, but the
initial reason for the stop, the report reads, that the rear
lights - - or the rear lights, the nighttime rear lights were
I believe [Mr. Adams] is contesting that fact and I have two
officers here waiting to testify. And I believe that's
the only issue. The reason for the initial traffic stop is
the only issue here for the [c]ourt to decide.
Adams acquiesced in the State's summary of the issue.
Trial counsel for Mr. Adams followed up with a brief opening
remark, indicating that
[t]his [incident] happened, I think, in late January of
, so the vehicle couldn't have been more than four
or five months old, and the sheet [provided by the car rental
agency that owned the vehicle] indicates that there were no
repair records for this vehicle. So it is our contention that
we have a brand new car[;] the rear lights were working.
At the hearing, Officers Steven Orwick and Brandon Collins of
the Akron Police Department testified that they were on
patrol in a marked police cruiser during the early morning
hours of January 23, 2018. At approximately 1:30 a.m., the
officers were traveling northbound on Kelly Avenue when a
vehicle passed them in the opposite direction in a southbound
lane. Both officers observed that the front of the vehicle
was illuminated, but the rear lights of the vehicle were not
visible and the back of the vehicle was black. The officers
determined that the lack of rear illumination was a traffic