Therefore, because the record contains more than enough evidence to support Wilson’s conviction for failing to comply with an order or signal of a police officer, Wilson’s first assignment of error claiming her conviction of failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer was not supported by sufficient evidence lacks merit and is overruled.
State v. Wilson
2022 – Ohio 1146
Twelfth District Appellate Court
Fayette County, Ohio
April 4, 2022
Ms. Billie Wilson was charged with Failure to Comply and Obstructing Official Business. She was tried and convicted of both charges but only appealed the Failure to Comply charge.
In the early evening hours of Saturday May 29, 2021, Ohio State Highway Patrol Sergeant Mike Ross attempted to stop Mr. Kaleb Hensley who was driving a red Dodge Caravan on I-71 in Fayette County, Ohio. Trooper Brian Parsons was on unrelated traffic stop when Sgt. Ross radioed that he had a vehicle failing to stop. Tr. Parsons discontinued his traffic stop to assist Sgt. Ross.
Sgt. Ross followed Mr. Hensley onto northbound SR 729 towards Jeffersonville in Fayette County, Ohio. Tr. Parsons testified that during this pursuit he had his lights on, his siren blaring, and that he was traveling at a high rate of speed. Tr. Parsons’ testimony is confirmed by video footage taken from his cruiser camera.
Trooper Brian Parsons Testimony
Tr. Parsons testified: “So, as I come into Jeffersonville, I didn’t know where Sergeant Ross had went. He advised me that they were on an unnamed alley. That the male suspect driving the vehicle had fled on foot. As I rounded that corner there, I saw the suspect running down the road and start to (unintelligible) things around the building behind him. I was trying to close distance with my car and I saw the suspect jump into this a (sic) grey [F]ord here, at the time we didn’t know if it was a carjacking … positioned [his] patrol car to keep the gray vehicle from leaving … just tried to get the vehicle in a position where [he] can stop the person” he was pursing, i.e., Mr. Hensley, from escaping. There is no dispute that the gray vehicle Tr. Parsons saw Mr. Hensley get into was being driven by his mother, Ms. Billie Wilson. There is also no dispute that Ms. Wilson did not stop her vehicle when approached by Tr. Parsons in his cruiser. Tr. Parsons testified that Ms. Wilson instead sped off and “nearly struck [his] patrol car as she pull[ed] away.” Tr. Parsons testified that Ms. Wilson then proceeded to drive away from him at an “excessively fast” rate of speed. Tr. Parsons testified that Ms. Wilson then ran a stop sign. Tr. Parsons’ testimony is again confirmed by the video footage taken from his cruiser camera.
Describing what happened next, Tr. Parsons testified: “I get back into pursuit through Jeffersonville here. Camera doesn’t pick it up, they [i.e., Wilson along with her son, Hensley,] make this right hand turn here onto 729 heading north. As I make this right hand turn I can see through my passenger window that [Hensley] just bailed on foot. The car continues. I stop here and I can see [Hensley] running through this parking lot [and] the rest of what happens here will be off camera.”
Tr. Parsons testified that once he exited his cruiser that he began issuing commands for Mr. Hensley to stop, which of course he did not. Tr. Parsons testified that Mr. Hensley “disregard[ed] those commands” and instead continued “to run on foot.” Tr. Parsons testified that Mr. Hensley then went “up some steps behind The Village Pump,” a local bar, towards “an apartment that sits above that bar.”. It will soon be discovered that his co-conspirator mother a.k.a. ‘defendant’ lived in an apartment overtop of the Village Pump. Tr. Parsons testified that Mr. Hensley then “continues into that apartment” and “disregards all of [his] commands.” Tr. Parsons testified that Ms. Wilson then arrived at the scene driving her gray vehicle. When asked how long it took for Ms. Wilson to arrive back on the scene, Trooper Parsons testified, “[n]ot, not long, um, my estimation maybe five minutes at the most.”.
The Village Pump is a tavern located at 14 South Main Street, Jeffersonville, Ohio. Mr. Hensley fled on foot inside his mother’s apartment located above the business. Ms. Wilson also fled to the apartment prior to both being arrested on felony charges.
Tr. Parsons then testified: “Miss Wilson exits the driver’s seat of the vehicle. Um, at this point I’m holding lethal cover on the door and the window making sure that [Hensley is] not going to come out and shoot at me or the patrons that are coming out to see what’s going on from the bar. Um, I pivot to [Wilson], start giving her commands, show me your hands, which she did comply. She showed me her hands. I told her to stop. She didn’t stop. She continued up into the apartment as well.”.
Tr. Parsons’ additional testimony “[Wilson] exited the driver’s seat of the vehicle, continued in front of me. I told her to show me your hands. She did. I told her to stop. We had an exchange of words. I don’t remember what was said. Um, she continues up the steps and into the apartment.”. Tr. Parsons testified that Sgt. Ross, as well as other units, then arrived at the scene to provide additional support. Tr. Parsons testified that shortly after backup arrived that “the door to the apartment opens.” Tr. Parsons testified that Ms. Wilson then ordered her son, Mr. Hensley, “who was our initial suspect, out of the dwelling.” Tr. Parsons testified that he and Sgt. Ross then took Mr. Hensley “into custody.”.
Ms. Billie Wilson Testimony
Ms. Wilson testified that she received a telephone call from her son, Mr. Hensley, asking her to pick him up because whatever vehicle he was driving that day “kept messing up.”. If “messing up” included having two Ohio State Highway Patrol cruisers in hot pursuit then … yes … it WAS messing up.
Ms. Wilson testified that during this conversation there was nothing to indicate Mr. Hensley was “running from the law,” or that Mr. Hensley was in any trouble whatsoever. Ms. Wilson also testified that she did not hear any sirens in the background. Ms. Wilson further testified that she did not find it odd that he wanted her to pick him up. So, because of this, Ms. Wilson testified that she and Mr. Hensley’s girlfriend agreed to go pick Mr. Hensley up.
Explaining what happened next, Ms. Wilson testified: “Um, me and [Hensley’s girlfriend] um, decided we was going to go pick [Hensley] up so, we was sitting there and we was facing like as you turn on the road, we was on the left hand side. And ah, I started hearing sirens, I was like what’s going on. So, I done a U-turn, I was sitting on the left side of the road again, but up by the curve and I serious like trying to figure out what was going on. And we was just sitting there and [Hensley’s girlfriend] brought a bubble [i.e., a pipe to smoke methamphetamine] with her, I’m going to be honest … Um, and [Hensley’s girlfriend] started hittin it and I was, you know, I hit it once and we was just sittin there talking, you know just not even paying attention, but I was hearing sirens. I was trying to figure out what was going on. And we still conversatin (sic) and everything and next thing I know, I see a van just fly through and I’m like that’s gonna be bad there’s trees there, they aint even no road there. That’s what I thought. I didn’t even think there was any road there or anything.”. [emphasis added]. Perhaps admitting to ‘hittin the bubble’ once, clouded her ability to hear sirens behind her fleeing child.
Ms. Wilson further testified that she and Mr. Hensley’s girlfriend “s[a]t there for a minute” before Mr. Hensley “runs up to the car” from “down the road a little bit” in the same vicinity that she had just seen a van “just fly through.” Ms. Wilson continued her testimony that as Mr. Hensley is getting into her car that “the trooper comes like, I thought he was going to T-bone me.” Ms. Wilson testified that she was “freaking out” upon seeing Tr. Parsons’ cruiser approach her vehicle, so she “just gassed it and I went to the stop sign,” stopped, and then turned left. Ms. Wilson’s appeal will primarily focus on her attempt to avoid a collision as the reason she accelerated, and NOT an attempt to flee.
Ms. Wilson further testified “I went turned left and when we was getting up through there [Hensley] was like, “they’re after me mom” and that’s when I started flipping out on [Hensley]. I wasn’t paying attention to my speed cause I was going off. And right before I turned to get to the, right where the bank is, to turn um, I made [Hensley] get out of the car. I stopped the car. I made him get out. I said you brought me into something.”. Her acumen of identifying ‘something’ was spot – on.
Ms. Wilson then testified that while Mr. Hensley was getting out of her car that she told him, “do not go to my house.” What are the odds her son would listen to momma’s words? Thereafter, when asked if, at that point, Ms. Wilson felt like she was being “chased” by the police, Ms. Wilson testified: “No, I, I from the whole get go I never felt like I was being chased. Like even when I turned, I heard the sirens and everything but I was arguing with [Hensley] not paying attention to anything, you know what I mean? I’m beyond pissed now; you know what I mean? I’m sitting here telling [Hensley], “You know how can you bring me into this?” Because I’m going to be honest, I have a bad rep and I had my life together. I was the general manager of a store. I had a brand-new car. I had my life together.”.
Ms. Wilson testified that once she realized the police were not following her vehicle anymore that she drove back to her apartment, which, as the record indicates, was the apartment located above The Village Pump. Ms. Wilson testified that once she got to her apartment that she realized Mr. Hensley had gone to her apartment because “the cops were standing there.” Ms. Wilson testified that this made her “even pissed, more.” Ms. Wilson testified that she then went upstairs to her apartment “to go get [Hensley’s] ass out of [her] house.” Ms. Wilson then testified that it was never her intention at any time to help her son, Mr. Hensley, evade apprehension by the police.
The video footage of the incident taken from Tr. Parsons’ cruiser camera further confirms Tr. Parsons’ testimony that he believed Wilson “was running from [him].” This was in addition to Trooper Parsons’ testimony that “[t]his wasn’t a situation where anybody in the public would have looked at that and said I wasn’t in pursuit with that vehicle.” Therefore, because the record contains more than enough evidence to support Wilson’s conviction for failing to comply with an order or signal of a police officer, Wilson’s first assignment of error claiming her conviction of failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer was not supported by sufficient evidence lacks merit and is overruled.
Information for this article was obtained from State v. Wilson, 2022 – Ohio – 1146.
This case was issued by the Twelfth District Appellate Court which is only binding in the following Ohio counties: Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Fayette, Madison, Preble and Warren.
- Both Sgt. Ross and Tr. Parsons should be commended for their actions. Both had vision to keep the continuous fleeing Mr. Hensley under observation as he jumped into mom’s rolling meth mobile.
- Wilson challenged the Failure to Comply conviction. O.R.C. § 2921.331 (B) states in pertinent part “[N]o person shall operate a motor vehicle so as willfully to elude or flee a police officer after receiving a visible or audible signal from a police officer to bring the person’s motor vehicle to a stop.”. Ms. Wilson challenged that she did not willfully elude because she gassed her car to avoid the cruiser because she thought the trooper was going to T-bone her. Ms. Wilson attempted to claim that accelerating through a stop sign was safer than complying with the visible and audible signal by Tr. Parsons. This case was found in the troopers’ favor due to the documentation, testimony and video.
- Wilson was charged with Obstructing Official Business O.R.C. § 2921.32 (A)(2) that is a felony under O.R.C. 2921.32 (C)(3) which states in pertinent part “[I]f the crime committed by the person aided a felony … obstructing justice is a felony of the fifth degree.”. Since Mr. Hensley fleeing and eluding was a felony, momma Billie was also convicted of a felony.
- The fact pattern of this case is demonstrative of the challenges law enforcement face each day. Here, Mr. Hensley was in the midst of fleeing from two troopers, calls his meth consuming girlfriend and mother to meet him, he bails out of his Caravan and mom takes off. This incident could have ended much more violent but due to the professionalism of the officers the felons were apprehended without further incident.
Does your agency train on Flee/Elude and Obstructing Official Business?
Don’t fail your training.
Don’t let your training fail you!
Be safe, smart and Objectively Reasonable!