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State v. Glaze

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Lorain

January 13, 2020

STATE OF OHIO Appellee
v.
MATTHEW GLAZE Appellant

          APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF LORAIN, OHIO CASE No. 16CR095318

          GIOVANNA V. BREMKE, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          DENNIS P. WILL, Prosecuting Attorney, and LINDSEY C. POPROCKI, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          DONNA J. CARR, PRESIDING JUDGE

         {¶1} Appellant, Matthew Glaze, appeals the judgment of the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas. This Court affirms.

         I.

         {¶2} The unfortunate circumstances of this case arise out of a traffic accident that occurred in Amherst Township on the morning of July 2, 2016. As Glaze was entering an intersection while driving his Chevy Suburban, he struck a Chevy Cruze containing three women. The Chevy Cruze then collided with a van stopped at the intersection. Two passengers in the Chevy Cruze died as a result of the accident. The driver of the Chevy Cruze and the driver of the van suffered injuries.

         {¶3} On December 8, 2016, the Lorain County Grand Jury returned a 13-count indictment against Glaze. Glaze was charged with four counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, one count of aggravated vehicular assault, one count of vehicular assault, one count of tampering with evidence, two counts of possession of drugs, one count of driving under suspension, two counts of driving under the influence, and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. On February 17, 2017, the grand jury returned a supplemental indictment charging Glaze with two additional counts of vehicular assault. Thereafter, the grand jury again supplemented the indictment with one count of aggravated vehicular assault as well as another count of vehicular assault. Glaze pleaded not guilty to the charges at arraignment.

         {¶4} The matter proceeded to a jury trial where Glaze was found guilty of all the charges against him. After determining that a number of the counts were allied offenses, the trial court imposed a total prison sentence of 14 years.

         {¶5} On appeal, Glaze raises five assignments of error.

         II.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR I

         THE VERDICT IN THIS CASE IS AGAINST THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE AND SHOULD BE REVERSED BECAUSE IT VIOLATES THE FIFTH, SIXTH, AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, AND ARTICLE I, SECTION 10 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF OHIO.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR II

         THE CONVICTIONS ARE AGAINST THE MANIFEST WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE IN VIOLATION OF THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE OF THE 14TH AMENDMENT TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION AND OF THE OHIO CONSTITUTION.

         {¶6} In his first assignment of error, Glaze contends the State failed to present sufficient evidence to sustain his convictions for aggravated vehicular homicide. In his second assignment of error, Glaze contends that his convictions for aggravated vehicular homicide were against the weight of the evidence. This Court disagrees with both assertions.

         {¶7} Glaze was convicted of two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide in violation of R.C. 2903.06(A)(1)(a), which states, "[n]o person, while operating or participating in the operation of a motor vehicle, * * * shall cause the death of another * * * [a]s the proximate result of committing a violation of [R.C. 4511.19(A)]." Glaze was also convicted of two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide in violation of R.C. 2903.06(A)(2)(a), which provides that, "[n]o person, while operating or participating in the operation of a motor vehicle, * * * shall cause the death of another * * * [r]ecklessly[.]" Pursuant to R.C. 2901.22(C), a person acts "recklessly" when "with heedless indifference to the consequences, the person disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the person's conduct is likely to cause a certain result or is likely to be of a certain nature. A person is reckless with respect to circumstances when, with heedless indifference to the consequences, the person disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such circumstances are likely to exist."

         Sufficiency Challenge

         {¶8} Glaze challenges his convictions for aggravated vehicular homicide to the extent that the State failed to present sufficient evidence that he acted recklessly.[1]

         {¶9} When reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, this Court must review the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution to determine whether the evidence before the trial court was sufficient to sustain a conviction. State v. Jenks, 61 Ohio St.3d 259, 279 (1991).

An appellate court's function when reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a criminal conviction is to examine the evidence admitted at trial to determine whether such evidence, if believed, would convince the average mind of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 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. at paragraph two of the syllabus.

         {¶10} At trial, the State presented evidence supporting the following narrative. On the morning of July 2, 2016, Glaze was involved in a car accident at the intersection of State Route 113 and State Route 58 in Amherst Township. Glaze was driving a Chevy Suburban when he drove into the back of a Chevy Cruze that was stopped at the intersection. The Chevy Cruze contained three women. L.V. was driving the sedan while I.C. and M.M. were passengers. After being struck from behind by the Suburban, the Chevy Cruze collided with a van driven by R.T. I.C. and M.M. died as a result of the accident. L.V. and R.T. sustained injuries.

         {¶11} Ryon Berkel observed Glaze driving westbound on State Route 113 just prior to the accident. As Berkel was preparing to exit his driveway, he saw Glaze approaching at a high rate of speed. Berkel testified that Glaze's vehicle was "going left of center as it was approaching me. That's what made me hesitate." Berkel further testified that in addition to veering outside of his lane, Glaze was "hauling ass[, ]" traveling at an estimated speed of 70-75 miles per hour on road with a speed limit of 55 miles per hour.[2] Berkel observed that Glaze was not in a normal driving position. Instead, Glaze had a "slouched look" and "was up on top of the wheel." Berkel saw "parts flying everywhere" when Glaze collided with another vehicle as he entered the intersection of State Route 113 and State Route 58. Berkel could not recall seeing the Suburban's brake lights prior to the crash.

         {¶12} Stephen Konkiel, who drives a truck for Hillandale Farms, was travelling southbound of State Route 58 on the morning of the incident. At the time of the collision, Konkiel was stopped at a red light as cars traveled from east to west on State Route 113. Konkiel's eyes were drawn to the van travelling westbound on State Route 113 that was stopped in the left hand turn lane. Konkiel noticed the van, driven by R.T, because it had a "rainbow flame" paint job. The Chevy Cruze, driven by L.V., was stopped behind the van. Out of the corner of his eye, Konkiel saw Glaze's Suburban coming at a very high rate of speed. The Suburban crashed into the rear of L.V.'s car. Konkiel described the accident as a "violent impact" that "sounded like an explosion going off." The collision propelled the Chevy Cruze into the van. Konkiel explained that the van ended up in the middle of the intersection while the Suburban went through the intersection and off the road. R.T. saw the Suburban's brake lights come on after it came to a stop in a field, suggesting that the brakes were functional. Both Konkiel and R.T. testified that they saw Glaze exit his Suburban after the accident and throw an object into the bushes.

         {¶13} In recalling the incident, L.V. testified that she pulled into the left turn lane on State Route 113 as she prepared to turn onto State Route 58. There was a red light and L.V. came to a complete stop behind the van driven by R.T. L.V. did not remember the details of the accident, only that she was laughing with her friends before she suddenly "saw black." When L.V. was taken to an ambulance at the scene, she observed the damage to the back end of her vehicle and passed out.

         {¶14} First responders arrived on the scene immediately after the accident. Konkiel notified Officer Matthew Gramlich that Glaze had thrown something into the bushes. Thereafter, law enforcement discovered a pipe in that area that tested positive for cocaine. Officer Gramlich found an empty pill bottle with Glaze's name on it in the grass near Glaze's vehicle. The prescription was for oxycodone. Upon approaching Glaze, Officer Gramlich noticed that Glaze had constricted pupils. Testing on the pill bottle indicated that it contained heroin residue. While Glaze was initially alert, he gradually became sluggish and started to "nod off while answering questions. A paramedic at the scene also noticed that Glaze's pupils were constricted and that his eyes did not respond to light or motion. Based on their observations of Glaze, both Officer Gramlich and the paramedic suspected that Glaze was under the influence of drugs.

         {¶15} Glaze was transported to the hospital where urine and blood samples were collected. Dr. Gabrielle Morris, a neurological surgeon, examined Glaze in the emergency room. Glaze's urine tested positive for cocaine, opiates, and benzodiazepines. The blood tests were negative for illegal substances. Dr. Morris concluded that Glaze had a "polypharmacy induced altered mental state" based on the urine test results. While Dr. Morris did diagnose Glaze with a concussion, she emphasized that, "in the setting of a positive tox screen and a negative CT [scan, ]" Glaze's altered mental state could only have been caused by polypharmacy, not a concussion. The State's toxicology expert, Dr. John Wyman, testified that a euphoric high from cocaine lasts for a relatively short period of time. The period of euphoria can be followed by a period of dysphoria where the user experiences a crash, characterized by discomfort, fatigue, and agitation. Dr. Wyman noted that the blood sample in this case was collected two and a half ...


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