Appeals court upholds conviction in Auglaize County obstruction case

LIMA — Ohio’s Third District Court of Appeals, in a ruling issued Monday, upheld the conviction of a woman found guilty by an Auglaize County jury earlier this year of resisting arrest.

Veronica Sepulveda was convicted in Auglaize County Municipal Court in March. Jurors acquitted the Napoleon woman on a charge of obstructing official business.

She was sentenced by Judge Andrew Augsburger to 90 days in the Auglaize County jail, with 60 days suspended, and two years on probation. She was also fined $100.

The charges stemmed from an incident that occurred on June 19, 2022, on East Pearl Street in Wapakoneta which led to the arrest of Sepulveda and her then-boyfriend, Tyler Dunlap. Both were employed by the Lima Police Department at the time.

Prosecutors allege Sepulveda interfered with Wapakoneta Police Department Lt. Shannon Place’s arrest of Dunlap that day by getting between Place and Dunlap and by attempting to swat the officer’s Taser out of the officer’s hands.

Place testified during the trial that as she attempted to subdue Dunlap, Sepulveda approached and “tried to bat my Taser away with her hand. She made physical contact with me and interrupted my arrest” of Dunlap.

Sepulveda, 37, denied the accusation.

“I kept telling him (Dunlap) to just go away … to leave … to go, go,” she testified.

She also denied making contact with Place and told jurors she was unaware that the officer had drawn her Taser.

Place suffered a broken finger during the incident and spent several weeks on light duty with the WPD.

Sepulveda argued in her appeal that the trial court erred by not granting her motion for acquittal and that the state’s evidence “was insufficient for the matter to have been submitted to the jury.” She also contended that the trial court erred in allowing the admission as evidence of two photos of Place’s finger.

In its ruling, authored by Judge Juergen Waldick, with concurring opinions by judges John Willamowski and P.J. Miller, the appellate court said that a “rational trier-of-fact could find that Sepulveda’s actions constituted reckless interference with the lawful arrest of Dunlap and that the state did present evidence sufficient to convict Sepulveda.”

Addressing the photographs of Place’s finger, the court said that “we find no abuse of discretion with the trial court’s determination that the photographs contained some limited relevance here, given that Lt. Place’s finger was broken during the arrest that Sepuvelda interfered with.”

Sepulveda testified that she was “forced to resign” her position with the Lima Police Department following the incident. Dunlap resigned from the department in late December.