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State v. Williams

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

December 13, 2019

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
NEWELL WILLIAMS Defendant-Appellant

          Criminal Appeal from Common Pleas Court Trial Court Case No. 2018-CR-3051

          MATHIAS H. HECK, JR., LISA M. LIGHT, Atty. Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office, Appellate Division, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee

          J. DAVID TURNER, Atty., Attorney for Defendant-Appellant

          OPINION

          FROELICH, J.

         {¶ 1} Newell Williams was convicted after a jury trial in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas of aggravated possession of drugs, possession of heroin, possession of cocaine, aggravated possession of drugs, and tampering with evidence. The trial court imposed an aggregate sentence of 48 months in prison.

         {¶ 2} Williams appeals from his conviction, claiming that his counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to "file and pursue a motion to suppress evidence." For the following reasons, the trial court's judgment will be affirmed.

         I. Factual and Procedural History

         {¶ 3} The evidence at trial established the following facts.

         {¶ 4} On August 1, 2018, Detectives Justin Ellis and Matt Gray of the Violent Offender Unit were on patrol in an unmarked police vehicle in a particular area of Dayton due to a high volume of weapon complaints in that area. Both officers had been detectives for a year or less, but both had previously been patrol officers. Detective Ellis testified that he previously had been a patrol officer in that specific area of Dayton.

         {¶ 5} While on patrol, the detectives observed a red Prism driving "kind of slow in the area," which they found suspicious. They continued to observe the vehicle and saw it meet up with a light green sedan, with the two cars facing in opposite directions. The detectives then observed what they believed to be a hand-to-hand drug transaction. Detective Gray explained that "the drivers of both vehicles quickly exchanged something through their windows as they were next to each other. The transaction didn't last very long and both vehicles drove away." (Tr. at 131.)

         {¶ 6} Believing the green vehicle's occupant was the seller, the detectives attempted to follow that vehicle and get its license plate, but the detectives lost sight of it. However, they chanced upon the red Prism that they had previously observed. Detective Ellis testified that, due to the hand-to-hand transaction, the detectives requested a uniformed officer to stop the Prism. (Tr. at 122.) Detective Gray testified that they "observed several traffic violations," and they requested a uniformed crew to make a "traffic stop on the vehicle." (Tr. at 132.)

         {¶ 7} Officer Christopher Smith, a 28-year veteran with the Dayton police, was on patrol in a marked cruiser when he was instructed by Detectives Ellis and Gray to pull over a red Chevy Prism. The detectives reported that they had witnessed a hand-to-hand transaction between the occupants of the Prism and another vehicle. Smith followed the detectives' instructions on their location and heading, and he was able to locate and initiate a stop of the Prism. Smith testified that he activated his overhead lights, which also activated his onboard camera. Detectives Ellis and Gray were at the scene when the Prism was pulled over, and they joined Smith for the stop.

         {¶ 8} Upon pulling over the Prism, Officer Smith and the detectives approached the vehicle and learned that Cassandra Brumbaugh was the driver of the vehicle and Williams was the front-seat passenger. Two small children were in the backseat area. When Smith asked Brumbaugh for her driver's license, she indicated that she did not have any driver's license or photo identification. The officers asked Brumbaugh to step out of the vehicle. Because the driver's door handle was broken, the officers asked Williams to step out of the vehicle to allow Brumbaugh to exit from the passenger side. Detective Gray took Williams to Smith's cruiser, patted him down for weapons, and placed him in the backseat. No drugs were discovered during this pat down.

         {¶ 9} Detective Ellis testified that, from the passenger side of the vehicle, he saw "in plain view, a clear plastic bag with what I suspected to be methamphetamine." Ellis stated that it was "kind of poorly shoved between the passenger seat and the center console, in between that area." (Tr. at 125.) Ellis indicated that Williams had been seated in the front passenger seat. Ellis removed the bag ...


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