Judge Nichols overrules motion to suppress evidence
By Jane Beathard
The odor of marijuana emanating from a rented Chevrolet Suburban gave troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol the right to search the vehicle during a February 2012 traffic stop, Madison County Common Pleas Judge Robert D. Nichols ruled last week.
Nichols denied a motion filed in January by the attorney for Bedford resident Ernie L. Terrell to toss out drug evidence confiscated during the search.
Terrell, 31, was indicted last June on a felony marijuana possession charge.
During a Feb. 21 hearing, defense attorney Samuel Smith II, argued troopers had no probable cause to search the rented 2012 Chevrolet Suburban in which Terrell was a passenger, after stopping the vehicle for failing to maintain an assured clear distance.
That search turned up nearly four pounds of green marijuana with a street value of about $4,800 that Terrell acknowledged as his property.
Lt. Mike Kemmer of the patrol testified the Suburban was traveling about 65 mph in the eastbound lane of Interstate 70 at 9:51 p.m. Feb. 2, 2012, following closely behind another vehicle and changing lanes erratically.
He stopped the Suburban to question the driver, Brandon Gaines. As the officer approached the right side of the Suburban, he smelled burnt marijuana and noticed drug residue inside the vehicle.
The subsequent search by Kemmer and another trooper turned up three heavily wrapped packages of green marijuana on the Suburban’s rear floor board.
Gaines denied any knowledge of the drugs. Terrell acknowledged he received the marijuana as payment for work performed.
Smith noted Gaines was not cited for the traffic violation. Kemmer said that was not unusual.
“We don’t write a traffic ticket for every stop,” Kemmer said. “It’s officer discretion.”
In other common pleas court action last week:
• Kenneth A. Randall, 19, 516 Sherman Ave., Springfield, pleaded guilty to trafficking cocaine to a confidential police informant on June 6, 2012. A second charge, involving a June 14 cocaine sale, was dismissed as part of a plea bargain.
Randall faces up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine for the conviction, depending on the outcome of a pre-sentence investigation. Nichols set sentencing for April 5.
• Robert C. McCoy, 22, 183 Garfield Ave., London, was sentenced to two years of community control and classified as a tier-two sex offender for unlawful sexual conduct with a minor in December 2009. McCoy pleaded guilty to the charge in January.
• Jamie L. Rice, 26, 96 Shady Ave., London, was sentenced to 10 days in Tri-County Regional Jail and two years of community control for trafficking cocaine to a confidential informant on April 25, 2012, while she was living at 64 1/2 S. Main St. Rice pleaded guilty to an amended charge in January.