Therefore, Mr. McCurty’s warrantless arrest, conducted in public and with probable cause to believe that Mr. McCurty had committed a felony, was reasonable and did not violate the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution or Article I, Section 14 of the Ohio Constitution.
State v. McCurty
2023 – Ohio – 1158
Second District Appellate Court
Montgomery County, Ohio
On Sunday January 17, 2021 Mr. Shaquonne McCurty shot and killed Mr. Ja’Darion Glass at the Whitney Young Apartments in Dayton, Ohio. He was arrested ten days later on Wednesday January 27, 2021 without a warrant. The fact that Mr. McCurty was arrested ten days after the murder and without a warrant are the focus of Mr. McCurty’s appeal.
Mr. Shaquonne McCurty shot and killed Mr. Ja’Darion Glass at the Whitney Young Apartments in Dayton, Ohio. Mr. McCurty’s arrest would be the subject of his appeal and this article.
On February 5, 2021, Mr. Shaquonne McCurty was indicted on two counts of murder, in violation of O.R.C. §2903.02(B), unclassified felonies; one count of felonious assault (serious physical harm), in violation of O.R.C. §2903.11(A)(1), a felony of the second degree; two counts of felonious assault (deadly weapon), in violation of O.R.C. §2903.11(A)(2), felonies of the second degree; and two counts of having weapons while under disability, in violation of O.R.C. §2923.13(A)(2), felonies of the third degree. Except for the offenses of having weapons under disability, the charges included three-year firearm specifications.
On March 29, 2021, Mr. McCurty filed a motion to suppress challenging the pretrial identification of a witness, but this motion was later withdrawn. A second motion to suppress was filed on May 3, 2021, alleging that evidence should be suppressed as the result of a warrantless search and that Mr. McCurty’s statements were obtained in violation of Miranda, or in the alternative, were the result of an improper warrantless arrest.
Motion to Suppress is Denied
A suppression hearing was held on August 16, 2021. At the hearing, the State offered the testimony of two witnesses. In his post-hearing brief, Mr. McCurty specifically argued that, at the time he was arrested without a warrant, there had been no probable cause to arrest him and, further, that the State did not demonstrate that it had been impracticable to obtain a warrant or that exigent circumstances had existed. Thus, he argued that his seizure had been unconstitutional. The trial court overruled Mr. McCurty’s motion in its entirety, finding that there had been probable cause to arrest Mr. McCurty and that it had not been practicable for the police to obtain a warrant prior to doing so. The trial court also found that Mr. McCurty’s statements were admissible as they had been knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily made after he validly waived his Miranda rights.
Trial and Conviction
The case proceeded to a jury trial on the murder and felonious assault counts with firearm specifications, and the two counts of having a weapon while under disability were tried to the bench. The jury found Mr. McCurty guilty of two counts of murder and two counts of felonious assault (and the firearm specifications) which related to the shooting death of Ja’Darion Glass. Mr. McCurty was found not guilty of the third felonious assault count related to W.T., who was standing next to J.G. at the time of the shooting. The trial court found Mr. McCurty guilty on both counts of having a weapon while under disability.
At sentencing, the trial court merged all the murder and felonious assault counts and the State elected sentencing on count one, murder, on which the trial court imposed a sentence of fifteen-years-to-life in prison with an additional mandatory three-year firearm specification. Mr. McCurty was sentenced to eighteen months in prison on each of the having a weapon while under disability counts, which were ordered to be served concurrently to each other and concurrently to the murder count, for a total prison term of Eighteen-years-to-life.
Mr. McCurty timely appealed and raises the following single assignment of error: The trial court erred in overruling Mr. McCurty’s motion to suppress evidence because the state failed to show that obtaining an arrest warrant beforehand was impracticable under the circumstances. Because the police did not validly arrest Mr. McCurty, any statements made by Mr. McCurty must also be suppressed as fruit of the poisonous tree.
The trial court found that there had been probable cause to arrest Mr. McCurty and that it had been impracticable to obtain a warrant prior to his arrest. Mr. McCurty does not challenge the trial court’s finding of probable cause. Rather, Mr. McCurty contends the trial court erred because the State failed to show that obtaining an arrest warrant was impracticable. Mr. McCurty asserts that the failure to demonstrate impracticability necessitates reversal of his convictions.
Mr. McCurty relies on this Court’s prior decision in State v. VanNoy, 2010-Ohio-2845, to support his position. In VanNoy, the defendant was under investigation by the Springfield Police Department drug unit during the spring of 2008. Several months later, a Springfield detective observed the defendant as a passenger in a vehicle and conducted a traffic stop solely to arrest the defendant for the prior drug offenses. At the time of the stop, there had been no arrest warrant issued for VanNoy, no charges had been filed against him, and no indictment had been obtained. Although the trial court overruled VanNoy’s motion to suppress, this Court reversed, holding that “in order for an officer to lawfully perform a warrantless arrest in a public place, the arrest must not only be supported by probable cause, it must also be shown that obtaining an arrest warrant beforehand was impracticable under the circumstances, i.e., that exigent circumstances exist.”.
However, in 2021, the Supreme Court of Ohio explicitly rejected the holding in VanNoy that required the State to show that obtaining an arrest warrant before arresting a suspect without a warrant was impracticable under the circumstances, in addition to the arrest being supported by probable cause. State v. Jordan, 2021- Ohio-3922. The Supreme Court stated that VanNoy was “contrary to precedent from both this court and the United States Supreme Court.” The Court then held “that neither the United States nor the Ohio Constitution requires a showing of exigent circumstances or of the impracticability of obtaining an arrest warrant to justify a warrantless public arrest supported by probable cause.”.
As the Court in Jordan explained, “[T]he constitutionality of an arrest depends on whether, at the moment the arrest was made, the officers had probable cause to make it.” citing Beck v. Ohio, 379 U.S. 89, 91, (1964). “An arrest that is based on probable cause is a reasonable intrusion under the Fourth Amendment.” Id., citing United States v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 218, 235, (1973). Thus, so long as a warrantless arrest is based upon probable cause and occurs in a public place, it does not violate the Fourth Amendment. citing State v. Brown, 2007-Ohio-4837 citing U.S. v. Watson, 423 U.S. 411 (1976).
Mr. McCurty does not contest the trial courts’ determination that the arresting officers had probable cause to arrest him. Furthermore, based on Jordan, the State was not required to demonstrate that obtaining a warrant prior to his arrest was impracticable. Therefore, Mr. McCurty’s warrantless arrest, conducted in public and with probable cause to believe that Mr. McCurty had committed a felony, was reasonable and did not violate the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution or Article I, Section 14 of the Ohio Constitution. Mr. McCurty’s sole assignment of error is overruled.
Having overruled the assignment of error, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
Information for this article was obtained from State v. McCurty and numerous news articles that do include the victim’s name. The victim’s name is identified through numerous news articles such as: https://dayton247now.com/news/local/dayton-man-indicted-on-murder-charge-in-shooting-death-of-17-year-old… and … https://www.daytondailynews.com/news/suspect-admitted-to-shooting-killing-dayton-teen-court-records-say/2YDDMCY6SRADBFYAYVSJE4ZQIE/.
This case was issued by the Second District Appellate Court and is binding in the following Ohio Counties: Champaign, Clark, Darke, Greene, Miami and Montgomery.
- The U.S. Supreme Court held in 1964 that law enforcement requires probable cause to complete a custodial arrest in Beck v. Ohio, 379 U.S. 89, 91, (1964). The Supreme Court of Ohio provided a detailed analysis of the Stale Probable Cause doctrine in State v. Jordan, 2021- Ohio-3922. Specifically the Supreme Court of Ohio held “[T]he constitutionality of an arrest depends on whether, at the moment the arrest was made, the officers had probable cause to make it.”. Therefore, the arrest of Mr. McCurty without a warrant ten days after the homicide was lawful.
- McCurty also makes the feeble argument that since there was time to obtain arrest warrant that his arrest was unlawful. Specifically, “Mr. McCurty contends the trial court erred because the State failed to show that obtaining an arrest warrant was impracticable. Mr. McCurty asserts that the failure to demonstrate impracticability necessitates reversal of his convictions.”. The fact that law enforcement ‘could’ have obtained an arrest warrant does not mean that had to obtain arrest warrant. The issue is whether there was probable cause to arrest Mr. McCurty for the homicide of Mr. Ja’Darion Glass … and there was probable cause.
- Law enforcement was lawful to make a custodial arrest of Mr. McCurty in a public place without a warrant. His arrest would also have been lawful if it was made within a building if the officers entered with consent. However, law enforcement would be prohibited from entering a building with only probable cause to make his arrest without an arrest or search warrant. See Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573 (1980). Additionally, law enforcement cannot arrest a suspect if probable cause is established and later that probable cause becomes stale. Probable cause can become stale when there is intervening information or evidence that dissipates [removes] the initial probable cause.
- For more information on the Stale Probable Cause Doctrine see: Eight Days after Probable Cause is Established does a Law Enforcement Need an Arrest Warrant before a Warrantless Arrest is Effected?, Was the Probable Cause on the Search Warrant Affidavit Stale?, Is Ten Months between the Service of a Search Warrant and Possession of Child Pornography Make the Probable Cause Stale?.
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