State v. Waters

[Cite as State v. Waters, 2022-Ohio-2667.] COURT OF APPEALS OF OHIO EIGHTH APPELLATE DISTRICT COUNTY OF CUYAHOGA STATE OF OHIO, : Plaintiff-Appellee, : No. 110821 v. : JAMES WATERS, : Defendant-Appellant. : JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION JUDGMENT: AFFIRMED RELEASED AND JOURNALIZED: August 4, 2022 Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-20-652560-A Appearances: Michael C. O’Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Daniel T. Van, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee. Cullen Sweeney, Cuyahoga County Public Defender, and Noelle A. Powell, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant. KATHLEEN ANN KEOUGH, J.: Defendant-appellant, James Waters, appeals the trial court’s decision denying his motion to suppress and the court’s imposition of a sentence pursuant to the Reagan Tokes Law. For the reasons that follow, we affirm. I. Procedural History and Background In August 2020, Waters was named in a four-count indictment charging him with one count of aggravated vehicular homicide, a first-degree felony violation of R.C. 2903.06(A)(1)(a) (Count 1); aggravated vehicular homicide, a second-degree felony violation of R.C. 2903.06(A)(2)(a) (Count 2); driving while under the influence of alcohol, a first-degree misdemeanor violation of R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(a) (Count 3); and driving while under the influence of alcohol, a first- degree misdemeanor violation of R.C. 4511.19(A)(1)(d) (Count 4). Counts 1 and 2 contained furthermore specifications that at the time of the offense, he did not have a valid driver’s license. The charges stemmed from a motor vehicle accident where Waters was alleged to have sped through a red light at the intersection of West 130th Street and Lorain Avenue. A truck turning left onto Lorain Avenue struck the backside of Waters’s vehicle causing it to spin out of control and collide with a pole on the side of the road. Waters’s aunt, Carmen Stewart, was seated in the backseat of his vehicle, sustained life-threatening injuries, and died as a result of the accident. Following field sobriety tests, Waters was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. It was later discovered that Waters did not have a valid driver’s license, and a subsequent breath test yielded a blood alcohol content (“BAC”) of .172. Waters filed a motion to suppress, contending that (1) there was no reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop and detain him; (2) the officer administered the field sobriety tests in an inappropriate manner and location; (3) the police obtained statements from him in violation of Miranda; and (4) the procedures used by police in collecting and testing his breath sample did not conform to the Ohio Administrative Code. II. Suppression Hearing Cleveland Patrol Officer Arthur Fessler testified that he responded to an accident at West 130th Street and Lorain Avenue. His interactions with Waters and witnesses were captured on his body camera, and portions of those interactions were played for the court. Officer Fessler identified Waters in the video as the man who was on the ground screaming. His body-cam video showed Waters then pounding on the ambulance door and attempting to open it. Officer Fessler can be seen …

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