State v. Mitro, WD-21-080

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
Writing for the CourtDUHART, J.
Citation2022 Ohio 3265
PartiesState of Ohio Appellee v. Megan Elizabeth Mitro Appellant
Docket NumberWD-21-080
Decision Date16 September 2022

2022-Ohio-3265

State of Ohio Appellee
v.

Megan Elizabeth Mitro Appellant

No. WD-21-080

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Sixth District, Wood

September 16, 2022


Trial Court No. 2020-CR-0507

Paul A. Dobson, Wood County Prosecuting Attorney, and David T. Harold, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee.

Lawrence A. Gold, for appellant.

DECISION AND JUDGMENT

DUHART, J.

{¶ 1} Appellant, Megan Elizabeth Mitro, appeals from a judgment of conviction and sentence entered by the Wood County Court of Common Pleas. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the trial court, but we remand the matter for a nunc pro tunc entry that conforms with the sentence imposed during the sentencing hearing.

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Statement of the Case

{¶ 2} On November 19, 2020, appellant was originally indicted in a three-count indictment. Count 1 charged her with felonious assault, in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(1) and (D)(1)(b), a felony of the first degree, as the victim was a peace officer who was said to have suffered serious physical harm. Count 2 charged her with failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer, in violation of R.C. 2921.221(B) and (C)(5)(a)(1), a felony of the third degree. Count 3 charged her with operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse, or a combination of them, in violation of R.C. 4511.19(A)(1) and (G)(1)(b), a misdemeanor of the first degree. Appellant was arraigned on those charges shortly thereafter.

{¶ 3} On April 22, 2021, appellant was indicted, under a second case number, on a single count of aggravated vehicular assault, which was a felony of the third degree based upon the fact that the offense was committed during the commission of a violation of R.C. 4511.19(A). Appellant was arraigned on that charge, and her cases were joined for trial. The charge for aggravated vehicular assault subsequently identified as Count 4.

{¶ 4} After plea negotiations failed, appellant waived her right to a trial by jury. The matter proceeded to a bench trial, which resulted in guilty verdicts on all four counts. The court sentenced appellant to serve terms of imprisonment on each count, as follows: For Count 1, felonious assault, three years; for Count 2, failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer, 36 months; for Count 3, operating a vehicle under the

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influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse, or a combination of them, 180 days; and for Count 4, aggravated assault, 36 months. The sentences for Counts 1 and 2 were ordered to be sentenced consecutively to one another, and the sentences for Counts 3 and 4 were ordered to be served concurrently with one another and concurrently with the sentences imposed in Counts 1 and 2. At sentencing, the court made clear that appellant was sentenced to serve a total of six years in prison and that the sentence could be extended to seven and a half years pursuant to the Reagan Tokes Act. Appellant timely filed the current appeal.

Statement of the Facts

{¶ 5} The evidence adduced at trial established the following. On October 26, 2020, appellant got into her car and left her home to go to the Rite-Aid, where she intended to purchase alcohol. While backing out of her driveway, appellant struck and damaged two mailboxes that were on the side of the road, across from her home. She succeeded in getting to the Rite-Aid, but while attempting to park there, she struck B.G.'s vehicle, which was located in the parking space across from hers.

{¶ 6} B.G., upon exiting the store, observed that appellant's car was touching his car. He contacted the Perrysburg Police Department's non-emergency line to make a report of the situation.

{¶ 7} Appellant, in the meantime, had gone into the store and selected two bottles of alcohol from the shelves, but the clerk refused to allow the purchase. When appellant

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came out of the store, B.G. told her that he had contacted the police and he suggested to her that they exchange insurance information. Appellant refused to exchange insurance information with B.G. and, instead, just sat inside her vehicle. She subsequently attempted to leave the scene and, in so doing, struck B.G.'s vehicle twice more. Before police arrived, appellant exited her vehicle, with the engine still running, and began walking, with her dog, out of the parking lot and down Louisiana Avenue, towards the post office.

{¶ 8} Officer D.C. of the Perrysburg Police Department arrived at the Rite-Aid, and B.G. told him that appellant had left the scene on foot. Officer D.C. drove down Louisiana Avenue to the post office parking lot, where appellant was standing. Officer D.C. advised appellant that she needed to return to the Rite-Aid so he could complete his crash investigation. Appellant complained that it was a long walk, so Officer D.C. agreed to drive her back to the scene.

{¶ 9} Upon arriving back at the Rite-Aid, officer D.C. advised appellant to sit in her vehicle and "turn it off," because he needed to complete his crash investigation and report. Officer D.C. testified that he detected that something was "off about appellant. He stated that he did not detect the odor of alcohol, but, also, had recently had a cold that may have impacted his sense of smell. Officer D.C. asked appellant if she had consumed anything that would impair her ability to drive, and she stated that she was "on a lot of medications." Officer D.C. then asked appellant if that was "the issue today," and

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appellant responded, "Yes." Officer D.C. advised appellant that he planned to do a field sobriety test. He then told her, "Hang tight for me, okay," and walked over to speak with B.G. and another witness.

{¶ 10} While Officer D.C. was speaking with the other witness, appellant suddenly began backing out of her parking space, with her driver-side window down. This maneuver was captured on Officer D.C.'s cruiser camera, which was played for the court during the bench trial. As shown in the camera footage, the following dialogue occurred between Officer D.C. and appellant as the maneuver was taking place:

OFFICER D.C: Megan! Hey! You're not done yet. Pull back up here.
APPELLANT: I thought we were done.
OFFICER D.C: No, we're not done. Park the car and turn it off please.
APPELLANT: Okay.

But instead of parking the car and turning it off, appellant made a U-turn and began driving toward the area where the parking lot exited onto Louisiana Avenue. Officer D.C. ran after her, shouting, "Megan!"

{¶ 11} Officer D.C. chased appellant on foot in hopes that she would stop her vehicle, because he feared that she would injure someone if she entered the roadway. While she was making her exit, but before pulling away from the Rite-Aid parking lot,

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appellant momentarily stopped her car at a stop sign located near the exit, at which point Officer S.C. was able to catch up to appellant's driver-side window. The window was still down. As Officer D.C. reached the driver-side door, appellant turned her car to the left, in the direction of Officer D.C, and accelerated rapidly onto Louisiana Avenue, nearly causing a collision with oncoming traffic. When appellant turned her car toward Officer D.C, he feared that he would be run over by appellant's left rear tire. Officer D.C. responded by placing his arm on the door jam, in an attempt to push himself away from appellant's car. As appellant quickly accelerated, revving her car, Officer D.C.'s arm slipped into appellant's car and became stuck behind what he believed was the headrest. Officer D.C. continued yelling at appellant to stop, but she persisted in accelerating onto the roadway. Initially, Officer D.C. tried to keep his feet moving alongside the car, in order to avoid being run over by the rear tire. As appellant accelerated down the roadway, Officer D.C. did not believe that he would be able to free his arm from her vehicle. A voice in his head told him that he was going to die, but that it was okay. Within a few seconds, Officer D.C. became detached from the vehicle and was slammed onto the roadway, rolling into oncoming traffic.

{¶ 12} Officer Kimberly Katafias of the Perrysburg Township Police Department responded to appellant's residence at 1909 Hamilton Drive, after being alerted to the events that occurred at the Rite-Aid. The call reporting the crash and injury to Officer D.C. was made at 4:11 p.m., and Officer Katafias arrived at appellant's residence at 4:14

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p.m. At 4:15 p.m., appellant's father arrived and opened the garage door, so he could pull his vehicle into the garage. Officer Katafias, who was monitoring the home, looked into the garage and saw the vehicle that appellant drove while she was fleeing the Rite-Aid. Officer Katafias also saw appellant inside the garage attempting to open the door to enter her home. Appellant was swaying, stumbling, and generally having great difficulty opening the door. Officer Katafias and another officer placed appellant into handcuffs. Appellant repeatedly stated, "I just want to go home, just let me go home." Officer Katafias smelled a strong odor of alcohol emanating from appellant. Based on her twenty years of experience in interacting with impaired individuals, as well as on her specialized training regarding detecting alcohol impairment, Officer Katafias concluded that appellant was highly intoxicated.

{¶ 13} Detective Jesse Gomez of the Perrysburg Police Department was another officer who responded to the situation involving Officer D.C. He went initially to the scene at the Rite-Aid and later to appellant's residence, where appellant had been apprehended. Detective Gomez spoke with appellant while she was seated in the back seat of a police cruiser. Upon opening the door, Detective Gomez immediately detected the odor of alcohol and observed appellant's slurred speech, as well as her bloodshot eyes. As a result, Detective Gomez obtained a search warrant to...

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