State v. Woodward, 031819 OHCA3, 5-18-21

Docket Nº:5-18-21
Opinion Judge:SHAW, J.
Attorney:William T. Cramer for Appellant. Lora L. Manon for Appellee.
Judge Panel:ZIMMERMAN, P.J., and WILLAMOWSKI, J., concur.
Case Date:March 18, 2019
Court:Court of Appeals of Ohio





No. 5-18-21

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Hancock

March 18, 2019

Appeal from Hancock County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No. 2017 CR 269.


William T. Cramer for Appellant.

Lora L. Manon for Appellee.



{¶1} Defendant-appellant, Dustin B. Woodward ("Woodward"), brings this appeal from the September 25, 2018, judgment of the Hancock County Common Pleas Court sentencing Woodward to seven years in prison after he pled no contest to, and was convicted of, six counts of Pandering Sexually Oriented Material Involving a Minor in violation of R.C. 2907.322(A)(1), all felonies of the second degree. On appeal, Woodward argues that the trial court erred by denying his suppression motion.

Relevant Facts and Procedural History

{¶2} On or about August 14, 2017, the Forest Police Department learned of allegations that Woodward had taken explicit photographs of his six-year old stepdaughter. On the morning of August 14, 2017, at approximately 11 a.m., before the police had attempted to contact Woodward, Woodward went to the Forest Police Department due to the encouragement of his wife and his own "guilt." Outside of the station, Woodward met Chief Southward and indicated that he wanted to talk.1Woodward was taken inside where he was read his Miranda rights and he signed a written Miranda waiver. He was then interviewed by Chief Southward.

{¶3} During the interview, Woodward stated that he had taken a total of ten to fifteen photographs of his stepdaughter's genitals over two or three separate occasions spanning a multi-week period. He stated that he had since deleted the photographs from his cell phone, but his wife found them in Google photographs, where he did not know they had still been saved. Woodward agreed to allow the police to search his phone.

{¶4} On August 22, 2017, Woodward was indicted for twelve counts of Gross Sexual Imposition ("GSI") in violation of R.C. 2907.05(A)(4), all felonies of the third degree, and twelve counts of Pandering Sexually Oriented Material Involving a Minor ("Pandering") in violation of R.C. 2907.322(A)(1), all felonies of the second degree. The bill of particulars alleged that the Gross Sexual Imposition charges stemmed from activity between April 1, 2017, and May 31, 2017, wherein Woodward engaged in sexual contact with his stepdaughter who was born in February of 2011. It was alleged that Woodward touched the victim's "pubic and vaginal region * * * for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying either himself or [the victim]." (Doc No. 79). The Pandering charges stemmed from Woodward taking photographs, which allegedly included the child's pubic, genital and/or vaginal area. (Id.) Woodward originally pled not guilty to the charges.[2]

{¶5} On October 31, 2017, Woodward filed a suppression motion seeking to suppress statements that he made to the police department. He argued that he was highly intoxicated and suffering from mental illness at the time he made his statement, rendering the Miranda waiver he signed invalid. In addition, Woodward argued that any information taken from his cell phone should be suppressed because the search exceeded the scope of his consent.

{¶6} On December 5, 2017, the State filed a response contending that Woodward was never actually in custody during his interview, that there were no indications that he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, that his Miranda waiver was valid even if he was in custody, and that Woodward did not limit the scope of the search of his cell phone in any manner when he gave it to the police.

{¶7} The matter proceeded to a hearing on January 2, 2018. At the hearing the State presented the testimony of Chief Southward, and Detective Lyle Harvitt of the Hancock County Sheriffs Office. Detective Harvitt interacted with Woodward after he was interviewed by Chief Southward. The State also entered a copy of the signed, written Miranda waiver into evidence, and a DVD of the interview with Woodward. Woodward testified on his own behalf.

{¶8} On January 24, 2018, the trial court filed an entry denying Woodward's motion to suppress. The trial court determined that Woodward was not subject to a custodial interrogation as Woodward went to the police station willingly and requested to meet with the Chief. Nevertheless, the trial court found that even if Woodward was subject to a custodial interrogation, he was advised of his Miranda rights and voluntarily signed a waiver.

{¶9} The trial court also found that Woodward displayed no observable signs of intoxication, that both officers testified that they did not smell alcohol on Woodward, and that Woodward did...

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