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State v. Hawkins

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

December 12, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
THOMAS HAWKINS, Defendant-Appellant.

          Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-19-643502-A

          Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Blaise D. Thomas, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.

          Friedman & Gilbert, and Marcus S. Sidoti, for appellant



         {¶ 1} This cause came to be heard upon the accelerated calendar pursuant to App.R. 11.1 and Loc App.R. 11.1. Additionally, R.C. 2937.222(D) requires that this matter be given priority and decided expeditiously, with a prompt decision on the trial court's order.

         {¶ 2} Defendant-appellant, Thomas Hawkins ("Hawkins"), appeals the trial court's decision revoking his bond and denying him pretrial bail. He raises one assignment of error for our review:

The appellant should not have been held without bail pursuant to ORC 2937.222.

         {¶ 3} Finding no merit to his assignment of error, we affirm.

         I. Procedural History and Factual Background

         {¶ 4} On August 15, 2019, Hawkins was arrested for aggravated vehicular homicide after he allegedly drove with a blood-alcohol content of .199, went through a red light at a high rate of speed, and collided with another vehicle, killing its driver.

         {¶ 5} At Hawkins's initial court appearance in Cleveland Heights Municipal Court on August 28, 2019, he pleaded not guilty. The case was bound over to the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, and on August 28, 2019, the docket reflects that his bond was set for $100, 000.

         {¶ 6} The trial court's August 30, 2019 journal entry states "first appearance not held," although Hawkins and his counsel appeared, and that the trial court reduced Hawkins's bond to $50, 000, with the condition that he "follow up with mental health services." Hawkins posted bond and was released.

         {¶ 7} On September 16, 2019, the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury indicted Hawkins for one count of aggravated vehicular homicide in violation of R.C. 2903.06(A)(1)(a), a felony of the second degree; one count of aggravated vehicular homicide in violation of R.C. 2903.06(A)(2)(a), a felony of the third degree; one count of failure to stop after an accident in violation of R.C. 4549.02(A)(1), a felony of the third degree; and two counts of driving while under the influence in violation of R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(a) and (c), misdemeanors of the first degree. Hawkins pleaded not guilty, and on September 30, 2019, the trial court ordered that the original posted bond of $50, 000 "cash/surety/prop." be continued.

         {¶ 8} On October 3, 2019, a different trial judge, who was assigned after Hawkins's arraignment, held the first pretrial hearing and granted the state's oral motion to suspend Hawkins's administrative license, which was stipulated to by Hawkins's defense counsel. The trial court also stated that Hawkins was to be placed on court-supervised release, "GPS/electronic home monitoring" and "transdermal alcohol detection monitoring" as part of his bond. The trial court stated that Hawkins was only allowed to leave his home for court appearances, probation appointments, medical appointments, and medical emergencies, and that any additional movement would require prior approval from the court. It also stated that Hawkins was to report weekly to the probation department and submit to alcohol and drug testing during each visit. Finally, the trial court stated that Hawkins did not have driving privileges and was not permitted to have, come into contact with, or be in possession of any firearm. The trial court then set a bond hearing date and instructed Hawkins's defense counsel to submit Hawkins's medical records before the hearing for in-camera inspection.

         {¶ 9} Just days later, on October 8, 2019, the state filed a motion to deny bail and revoke Hawkins's bond, and the trial court held a hearing on the motion on October 9, 2019. As of that date, Hawkins had been released on bond for 39 days.

         {¶ 10} At the hearing, Cleveland Heights Detective Sergeant David Speece ("Sergeant Speece") testified that on the night of August 15, 2019, at around 11 p.m., he received a report of a fatal vehicular accident in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. He said the driver of one of the vehicles involved, Eugene Rankin ("Rankin"), was killed and that the other driver, Hawkins, who was driving a Colorado GMC pickup truck, was transported to the hospital.

         {¶ 11} Sergeant Speece testified that he reviewed body camera footage of Hawkins being transported to the hospital after the crash and said that the footage showed Hawkins in the ambulance stating, "Just kill me. Just let me go. Let me die." Sergeant Speece said that Hawkins told the officer in the ambulance that he was trying to end his life and had drank some alcohol.

         {¶ 12} Sergeant Speece said that the hospital performed a blood draw on Hawkins. The state admitted the toxicology laboratory report showing the results of the blood draw as an exhibit, which showed that Hawkins had a blood-alcohol content of .199.

         {¶ 13} Sergeant Speece stated that, at the scene, an officer from the Ohio State Highway Patrol collected the "black box downloads" from both vehicles. The data collected from Hawkins's vehicle showed that five seconds prior to the accident, Hawkins was traveling at 66 m.p.h. and at the time of impact, Hawkins was traveling at 71 m.p.h. and that his throttle remained in full throttle from five seconds before the impact until the time of impact. He said that the data also showed that Hawkins did not apply the brakes before impact. Sergeant Speece testified that Hawkins's vehicle collided with the driver's side door of Rankins's vehicle and that both vehicles traveled over 100 feet as a result of the collision.

         {¶ 14} Sergeant Speece stated that police found a knife and a "flight instrument manual" in Hawkins's vehicle.

         {¶ 15} Sergeant Speece said that he spoke to motorists who witnessed the crash. These witnesses told him that after the collision, Hawkins exited his vehicle and walked away from the scene, but was detained by some of the motorists and held until the police arrived. He said that the witnesses also stated that Rankins had the green light and Hawkins was approaching a red light when he went through the intersection and hit Rankins's vehicle.

         {¶ 16} Sergeant Speece also testified that when he was at the scene, he was "notified that [Hawkins's vehicle] was part of a ['be on the lookout' report] that was placed earlier in the week where Mr. Hawkins was missing and Solon had made a missing persons report regarding Mr. Hawkins[.]" He said upon learning this information, he began "investigating incidents that happened prior to and leading up to the traffic crash on August 15th."

         {¶ 17} Sergeant Speece stated that he spoke with a police officer from Solon and learned that Hawkins "had a previous military career as a * * * nuclear engineer on a submarine in the United States Navy" and subsequently worked for NASA. Sergeant Speece learned that on August 6, 2019, Hawkins sent emails to one of his coworkers at NASA, Dr. Padetha Tin ("Dr. Tin"), which contained anti-Buddhist rhetoric. Sergeant Speece explained that Dr. Tin was a Buddhist and stated that he received a copy of the emails that Hawkins sent to Dr. Tin from the human resources administrator at NASA. The emails were admitted into evidence. Sergeant Speece summarized the email Hawkins sent to Dr. Tin on August 6th, in which Hawkins wrote Buddhism "was a poverty stricken religion and that their worship and their ways were not welcome in the United States and that they should take back the Indian nations and Indian land by even nuclear weapons, where he would eradicate all the people, then take the resources of * * * India[.]" Sergeant Speece said that in one of the emails, Hawkins identified himself as a Christian.

         {¶ 18} Sergeant Speece also stated that he received copies of police reports from Solon, which showed that on August 6, 2019, Hawkins was placed on administrative leave at NASA as a result of the emails. According to reports, Hawkins left work and drove to where his ex-wife used to live, then drove to a Lowe's in Youngstown, Ohio and "picked up some hinges[, ]" and then drove to a Buddhist meditation center in Springfield, Illinois, where Dr. Tin was the president. Sergeant Speece stated that Hawkins told officers that he conducted surveillance on the meditation center for hours and "had some good thoughts and bad thoughts." According to the reports, Hawkins's phone died while driving to Illinois, and during that time was when his wife filed a missing persons report with the Solon Police Department.

         {¶ 19} Sergeant Speece stated that the reports showed that Hawkins eventually returned to his house, where police located him on August 7, 2019. Sergeant Speece testified that according to the reports, Hawkins's wife also intended to seek a divorce around the same time. The reports also stated that Hawkins's wife recognized that Hawkins was suffering from mental health issues and asked Hawkins's parents, who lived in Florida, to intervene.

         {¶ 20} Sergeant Speece testified that police interviewed Hawkins upon locating him at the house, and a recording of the interview was admitted into evidence. Sergeant Speece stated that Hawkins told police during the interview that he "believed Dr. Tin could control the thoughts of others" and "had made the Dayton shooting happen using liquid crystals from his research," and that Hawkins explained to police that he sent the email to Dr. Tin "hoping to expose [Dr. Tin] for using liquid crystals to control other people."

         {¶ 21} Sergeant Speece explained that during the interview, police learned that Hawkins possessed numerous firearms and that the police, Hawkins, Hawkins's wife, and Hawkins's parents arranged to have his parents keep the weapons for safekeeping until they flew home to Florida, after which time the firearms were transported to Hawkins's wife's parents' home in Hudson, Ohio.

         {¶ 22} Also during the interviews, police suggested that Hawkins receive mental health treatment, but Hawkins rejected the suggestion, "believ[ing] that his high intelligence would be affected by any medication or drugs that might be prescribed by a mental health facility and ...

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