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State v. Henize

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

December 17, 2019

State of Ohio, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Alexander F. Henize, Defendant-Appellant.

          APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas C.P.C. No. 18CR-1028

         On brief:

          Ron O'Brien, Prosecuting Attorney, and Sheryl L. Prichard, for appellee.

          Campbell Law, LLC, and April F. Campbell, for appellant.

         Argued:

          Sheryl L. Prichard.

          DECISION

          LUPER SCHUSTER, J.

         {¶ 1} Defendant-appellant, Alexander F. Henize, appeals from a judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas convicting him of multiple drug-related offenses. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         {¶ 2} On March 2, 2018, the Franklin County Grand Jury indicted Henize on two counts of illegal manufacture of drugs in violation of R.C. 2925.04; five counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs in violation of R.C. 2925.03; three counts of aggravated possession of drugs in violation of R.C. 2925.11; one count of improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle in violation of R.C. 2923.16; one count of possession of heroin in violation of R.C. 2925.11; two counts of receiving proceeds of an offense subject to forfeiture proceedings in violation of R.C. 2927.21; one count of trafficking in heroin in violation of R.C. 2925.03; and one count of endangering children in violation of R.C. 2919.22. A firearm specification was attached to most of the offenses. Henize initially pleaded not guilty, and he moved to suppress evidence against him that led to multiple charges in the indictment.

         {¶ 3} In May 2018, the trial court held a suppression hearing, and the following three individuals testified: Columbus Division of Police Officers Nathaniel Harp and David Schulz, and Vania Ramirez-Chavez. Their testimony related to the circumstances surrounding Officer Harp's opening of a closed Home Depot bucket during a search at the residence of Henize and Ramirez-Chavez on December 26, 2017.

         {¶ 4} Officers Harp and Schulz both testified that, sometime during the first few hours of December 26, 2017, they were dispatched to 3894 Preserve Crossing Boulevard in Columbus based on a report of domestic violence. It was reported that the victim, later identified as Ramirez-Chavez, was being held at gunpoint by her boyfriend, later identified as Henize. When the officers arrived at the scene, Ramirez-Chavez's mother flagged them down and provided very similar information to what had been reported earlier. Officer Harp could see Ramirez-Chavez holding a young child at a third-floor window of the three story townhome-style apartment. The officers asked her to come down and talk to them. Ramirez-Chavez indicated that she could not comply with that request because Henize, who had a firearm, was holding her against her will.

         {¶ 5} Officer Harp instructed other officers to position themselves for a possible barricade situation, and they started the process of evacuating the area. Approximately 20 minutes later, Henize came to the third story window and communicated with Officer Harp, who convinced Henize to exit the apartment. It took Henize longer than necessary to exit the apartment, but when he did, the officers arrested him. Once Henize was arrested, the officers cleared the apartment to make sure there were no other threats to their or the victim's safety. They began to interview Ramirez-Chavez on the second floor of the apartment. Ramirez-Chavez indicated to the officers that she resided with Henize at the apartment and further stated that Henize had held a gun to her head and threatened to kill her. The officers therefore were interested in recovering the weapon as part of their investigation of Henize's conduct.

         {¶ 6} According to the officers' testimony, Ramirez-Chavez was asked if the officers could search for the firearm, and she consented to that search. She also indicated to the officers that the weapon that had been used was somewhere on the second floor of the apartment, which is where the kitchen was located. "She said that [the officers] could search whatever [they] needed to find the handgun." (May 7, 2018 Tr. at 38.) One of the officers discovered a rifle on top of a cabinet in the kitchen and displayed it to her. She indicated that the rifle was not the weapon Henize had used against her because he had used a much smaller firearm. As they continued the search for the weapon that had been held to her head, Officer Harp noticed an orange Home Depot bucket on the floor of the kitchen. The bucket, which had a lid, seemed out of place and was more than sufficient size to hold a handgun. Officer Harp opened the lid to reveal a handgun, ...


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