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State v. Worstell

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Licking

December 16, 2019

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
GALEN WORSTELL Defendant-Appellee

          Criminal appeal from the Licking County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 18CR00828

         JUDGMENT: Affirmed

          JUDGES Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P.J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J. Hon. Earle E. Wise, J.

          OPINION

          Gwin, P.J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Galen Worstell ["Worstell"] appeals Judgment of the Licking County Court of Common Pleas overruling his motion to suppress evidence.

         Facts and Procedural History

         {¶2} Worstell was charged with aggravated drug trafficking in violation of R.C. 2925.11(A)(2)/(C)(1)(d) and aggravated drug possession in violation of R.C. 2925.03(A)/(C)(1)(c). Both counts alleged that the drug was methamphetamine in amount more than five times bulk, which made both counts second-degree felonies.

         {¶3} Worstell filed a motion to suppress, arguing that it was unconstitutional to stop the vehicle he was riding in and to continue to detain him after another passenger was found with drugs.

         Motion to Suppress Hearing.

         {¶4} Deputy Dan Pennington of the Licking County Sheriffs office testified that on October 3, 2018, he was training a new deputy, Deputy Delane King. They were in full uniform and driving a marked cruiser, and they were engaged in traffic enforcement. Deputy King was driving and Deputy Pennington was in the passenger seat.

         {¶5} At around 7:42 p.m., they were stopped in an abandoned lot along Lancaster Road across the street from a Pilot gas station. They saw a 2000 Plymouth Voyager minivan drive past on Lancaster Road and travel left of center. The traffic violation was not captured on the cruiser dash cam.

         {¶6} Deputy Pennington explained that they followed the minivan for a while in order to run the tags. When the tags came back as expired and the registered owner as having an expired license, they decided to stop the minivan. He then activated the cruiser's dash camera video recording system. (T. at 25-26).

         {¶7} After stopping the minivan, Deputy King approached the driver side, while Deputy Pennington approached the passenger side. Deputy Pennington spoke with the occupants and informed the driver of why he was being stopped. Deputy Pennington requested identification from all the occupants. The driver was Jeremiah Horton, the front seat passenger was Jason Adams, and the middle seat row passenger was Worstell. The driver admitted that the van had been pulling to the left.

         {¶8} Adams did not have his identification with him, so he provided a social security number. While Adams was talking, Deputy Pennington suspected that he had something in his mouth because it sounded like he was choking. Deputy Pennington asked Adams to remove the item from his mouth and he ...


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