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State v. Baker

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Summit

January 8, 2020

STATE OF OHIO Appellee
v.
CHRISTOPHER BAKER Appellant

          APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE AKRON MUNICIPAL COURT COUNTY OF SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. 18TRC05589

          BENJAMIN R. SORBER, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          EVE V. BELFANCE, Director of Law, and BRIAN D. BREMER, Assistant Director of Law, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          THOMAS A. TEODOSIO JUDGE

         {¶1} Appellant, Christopher Baker, appeals from his conviction for operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol ("OVI") in the Akron Municipal Court. This Court affirms.

         I.

         {¶2} Mr. Baker was charged with OVI under RC. 4511.19(A)(1)(a) as well as speeding. Following a trial, a jury found him guilty of OVI and the trial court found him guilty of speeding. The court sentenced him to 180 days in jail for OVI, but suspended 177 days and permitted him to attend a three-day driver intervention program in lieu of serving three days in jail. The court further ordered a 12-month license suspension and a $375.00 fine. The court also ordered a $50.00 fine for speeding. The court granted Mr. Baker a stay of execution of his sentence.

         {¶3} Mr. Baker now appeals from his OVI conviction and raises three assignments of error for this Court's review.

         II.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR ONE

         MR. BAKER'S CONVICTION FOR OVI IS AGAINST THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE.

         {¶4} In his first assignment of error, Mr. Baker argues that his OVI conviction is not supported by sufficient evidence. We disagree.

         {¶5} Whether a conviction is supported by sufficient evidence is a question of law, which this Court reviews de novo. State v. Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 386 (1997). "Sufficiency concerns the burden of production and tests whether the prosecution presented adequate evidence for the case to go to the jury." State v. Bressi, 9th Dist. Summit No. 27575, 2016-Ohio-5211, ¶ 25, citing Thompkins at 386. "'The relevant inquiry is whether, after viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt.'" Id., quoting State v. Jenks, 61 Ohio St.3d 259 (1991), paragraph two of the syllabus. However, "we do not resolve evidentiary conflicts or assess the credibility of witnesses, because these functions belong to the trier of fact." State v. Hall, 9th Dist. Summit No. 27827, 2017-Ohio-73, ¶ 10.

         {¶6} Mr. Baker was convicted of OVI under R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(a), which states: "No person shall operate any vehicle * * * within this state, if, at the time of the operation, * * * the person is under the influence of alcohol * * *." This Court has defined "under the influence" as "[t]he condition in which a person finds himself after having consumed some intoxicating beverage in such quantity that its effect on him adversely affects his actions, reactions, conduct, movement or mental processes or impairs his reactions to an appreciable degree, thereby lessening his ability to operate a motor vehicle." Akron v. Foos, 9th Dist. Summit No. 28086, 2016-Ohio-8441, ¶ 5.

         {¶7} Trooper Nathan Sweazy of the Ohio State Highway Patrol ("OSHP") testified at trial as to his training and experience, which includes OVI-specific training and annual updates. He testified that, on April 6, 2018, at approximately 3:30 A.M., he was on duty and traveling on Brittain Road, near Eastwood and Eastland Avenues, in Akron, Ohio. He was accompanied by Sergeant Grim, who was conducting a "supervisor ride-along." Trooper Sweazy noticed a vehicle coming toward him at a high rate of speed, so he activated his front radar unit and clocked the vehicle at 64 miles per hour ("mph") in a 35 mph zone. The trooper turned around and followed the vehicle, which then failed to use its turn signal during a right-hand turn onto Eastland Avenue. Trooper Sweazy ...


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