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State v. Storer

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Fayette

December 16, 2019

STATE OF OHIO, Appellee,
v.
MATTHEW S. STORER, Appellant.

          CRIMINAL APPEAL FROM FAYETTE COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No. CRI 20180384

          Jess C. Weade, Fayette County Prosecuting Attorney, Sean M. Abbott, for appellee

          Steven H. Eckstein, for appellant

          OPINION

          RINGLAND, P.J.

         {¶ 1} Matthew Storer appeals his felony drug conviction in the Fayette County Common Pleas Court. For the reasons described below, this court affirms Storer's conviction.

         {¶ 2} In October 2018, Fayette County grand jurors indicted Storer on one count of aggravated possession of drugs, a violation of R.C. 2925.11(A) and (C)(1)(a), and a felony of the fifth degree. The indictment resulted from a police officer's recovery of a small quantity of methamphetamine in Storer's possession during a pat down search. The pat down search occurred following a probation search of a motel room where Storer was living with Isabelle Allman, who was on probation, and Allman's boyfriend.

         {¶ 3} While the criminal case was pending, Storer moved to suppress the evidence against him as obtained in violation of his constitutional rights. At the suppression hearing, the state elicited testimony from Dan Sheets, Allman's probation officer, and the arresting patrolman, Justin Everhart.

         {¶ 4} Officer Sheets testified that the terms of Allman's probation allowed him to search Allman or her residence at any time. On August 14, 2018, Allman appeared at her probation meeting and admitted that she and her boyfriend had been using drugs. Storer, Allman, and her boyfriend were living in a room at the City Motel in Washington Court House, Ohio. The motel room was Allman's registered address with the probation department. Storer was supplying Allman and Allman's boyfriend with drugs. Allman indicated that there were drugs currently in the motel room.

         {¶ 5} Officer Sheets arrested Allman. Approximately one hour later, Officer Sheets, Patrolman Everhart, and other probation and law enforcement officers traveled to Allman's room at the City Motel. Officer Sheets knocked on the door and tried the door handle, which was unlocked. He opened the door, yelled for Allman's boyfriend, and entered the room. Officer Sheets and another probation officer then began searching the motel room, which consisted of a bedroom and adjoining bathroom. Allman's boyfriend and Storer were present in the room while the search occurred. Patrolman Everhart and other law enforcement officers stood by as the probation officers searched.

         {¶ 6} The probation officers observed spoons and needles, believed to be drug paraphernalia, in plain view in the bathroom. The bedroom was cluttered with clothing. In one corner of the bedroom there was a pile of bags. Sheets explained that there were both male and female clothing visible in the room but he could not discern whom the bags belonged to without opening each bag. Sheets opened one bag and discovered two digital scales. After the digital scales were recovered, Storer admitted ownership of the bag.

         {¶ 7} Patrolman Everhart then arrested Storer for possession of drug paraphernalia. In a subsequent search incident to arrest, Patrolman Everhart located a cigarette pack in Storer's possession. Within the cigarette pack, Patrolman Everhart retrieved a small baggie containing methamphetamine.

         {¶ 8} After hearing the evidence and arguments, the trial court announced that it would deny Storer's motion to suppress. The trial court reasoned that Storer was living with a probationer and had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of the bag. Storer subsequently entered a plea of no contest and the trial court found him guilty. Storer appeals, raising a single assignment of error.

         {¶ 9} Assignment of Error No. 1:

         {¶ 10} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING DEFENDANT-APPELLANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS IN VIOLATION OF HIS RIGHTS UNDER THE FOURTH AMENDMENT OF THE UNITED STATES ...


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