Ohio News Briefs

Fentanyl drives another record year of Ohio overdose deaths

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The state says a record 4,050 people died of drug overdoses last year driven in large part by the emergence of stronger drugs like the synthetic painkiller fentanyl.

The data released Wednesday means on average 11 Ohioans are dying each day by overdosing on pain pills, heroin, fentanyl or other drugs. Overdose deaths rose 33 percent over the 3,050 deaths in 2015.

Compounding the problem is the appearance of drugs like carfentanil, an opioid so powerful it’s used to sedate elephants, and the lacing of drugs like cocaine with fentanyl.

The state says heroin-related deaths are leveling off and deaths from prescription painkillers fell for the fifth straight year.

The prescribing of painkillers is also falling. Officials say that’s an important step to reducing overall addiction rates.

Fiancee: Slain Ohio Lyft driver was saving for dream wedding

CLEVELAND (AP) — The fiancee of a Lyft driver fatally shot in Cleveland says he was trying to earn extra money to pay for their dream wedding.

Cleveland.com reports Tyra Ford says she and 32-year-old Mourice Foster got engaged in March and were planning an outdoor wedding next July.

Foster was fatally shot and a 31-year-old female passenger was wounded early Monday when someone fired 10 rounds at his car as he dropped the woman off. Foster was pronounced dead at the scene. The woman was shot in the arm and is recovering.

Police say a man arrested Monday is no longer a suspect.

Cleveland.com reports Foster worked in a factory and had four children ranging in age from 3 to 13.

Ford says she and Foster began dating two years ago.

Inmate dies after assault in prison recreation area

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Authorities say an Ohio inmate assaulted by another inmate in a prison recreation area has died.

The State Highway Patrol says it is investigating the attack that occurred round 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 24 at Mansfield Correctional Institution about 70 miles northeast of Columbus.

Patrol spokesman Lt. Robert Sellers says the victim was taken to a local hospital, then transported to a Columbus hospital where he was pronounced dead Friday. The prisoner’s name hasn’t been released.

In March, authorities say a serial killer dubbed the “Angel of Death” was beaten to death by a fellow Ohio inmate at Toledo Correctional Institution in northwest Ohio.

In February, authorities say an inmate was strangled by another inmate in a prison transport van in Pickaway County in central Ohio.

Head of Ohio county housing authority suspended after search

COSHOCTON, Ohio (AP) — The head of a central Ohio county housing authority has been suspended without pay after local, state and federal investigators conducted searches for what officials say is an investigation into the misappropriation of funds.

The Coshocton Tribune reports the Coshocton Metropolitan Housing Authority board on Tuesday voted to suspend Executive Director Greg Darr.

The Coshocton County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio Attorney General’s Office and investigators from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development searched the agency’s offices, a storage unit and a home in Coshocton on Monday. Sheriff’s Office Lt. Dean Hettinger said the searches are connected to a long-term investigation involving the agency.

Darr could not be reached for comment at his publicly listed telephone number Wednesday. He has been with the agency since 2001.

Medical examiner rules 15-month-old’s death a homicide

WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS, Ohio (AP) — The death of a 15-month-old girl near Cleveland has been ruled a homicide.

A medical examiner said Tuesday that Morgan Dillard suffered blunt impact injuries to the head and abdomen, including a fractured skull. The girl was found unresponsive Saturday morning at a Warrensville Heights home and died later that day at a hospital.

The girl’s mother, La’Shea Mitchell, says the child was being watched by a family member.

No charges have been announced. Police and prosecutors continue to investigate.

Ohio bill would protect campus speakers, punish disrupters

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A Republican proposal in Ohio seeks to protect speakers’ appearances at Ohio colleges and calls on campuses to punish students who disrupt them.

State Reps. Wesley Goodman, of Cardington, and Andrew Brenner, of Powell, announced the Campus Free Speech Act Tuesday.

It would restrict creation of campus “free speech zones” and require colleges to establish sanctions for students who interfere with “the free expression of others.” Campuses could be sued if someone feels First Amendment rights were restricted. The measure also prohibits universities from disinviting certain speakers because of protests.

Similar bills are emerging around the country, as conservatives react to recent decisions by universities to cancel certain speakers for fear of violent protests. Opponents worry such bills are too far-reaching.

Cincinnati-based Citizens for Community Values backs Ohio’s bill.

Mail carrier credited with rescuing injured elderly widow

MASSILLON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio mail carrier credited with rescuing an injured elderly widow lying helpless in her home says he knew something was amiss when the woman’s porch door wasn’t unlocked as usual for two straight days.

Donnie Lance tells The Independent in Massillon that he knew the woman lives alone, so he found a window to peek through and saw her on the floor, conscious but suffering from a broken hip and dehydration. She had fallen in the yard and pulled herself to the house but then could only manage to wait for help, perhaps for more than a day.

Once paramedics arrived, Lance continued with his delivery route. His colleagues learned about it later, when a thank-you note was sent by the woman’s pastor, who says she’s in rehabilitative care.

Judge: Student accused of sex assault can return to college

OXFORD, Ohio (AP) — A federal judge has ruled a student barred from a southwest Ohio college because of a sexual assault accusation can return to class.

The student is suing Miami University in Oxford, claiming he was falsely accused and Miami denied him due process in its investigation that resulted in his two-year ban. The Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News reports the judge recently ruled the student can return to class while his lawsuit continues.

The attorney for the student identified as John Doe in court documents says they’re pleased the court recognized the student’s “right to fair notice and confront his accusers.”

Miami University officials weren’t sure Tuesday if they will appeal the ruling.

A university spokeswoman says Miami is committed to a fair and impartial judicial process and “denies any bias in that process.”

Lawmaker wants probe of Ohio justice’s job request for son

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A lawmaker wants an investigation after a county prosecutor hired the son of an Ohio Supreme Court justice at the justice’s request.

State Sen. Cecil Thomas, a Cincinnati Democrat, asked the court’s investigatory arm earlier this month to look into the request by Justice Pat DeWine in April.

DeWine said he “would really appreciate it” if Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters found a place for his son in the prosecutor’s summer internship program.

DeWine, a Republican, is also the son of Attorney General Mike DeWine. Deters, also a Republican, granted Pat DeWine’s request.

Thomas says DeWine improperly requested a favor from someone whose cases come before the court.

Messages seeking comment were left with Deters and Pat DeWine.