Ohio News Briefs

Ohio court rejects claim that judge’s sentence vindictive

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court has rejected a defendant’s argument that a judge was being vindictive when he sentenced him to a prison term longer than he would have received if he’d taken a plea deal.

The court’s 5-2 ruling Tuesday also said there is no presumption that judges are being vindictive when defendants receive longer sentences after rejecting plea bargains.

At issue before the court was the 2014 case of Malik Rahab. A Hamilton County judge in Cincinnati had sentenced Rahab to six years in prison after a jury convicted him on a burglary charge.

Court records show Rahab turned down a plea deal that included a three-year prison sentence.

Rahab said in an appeal he was being punished by the judge for turning down the lesser sentence.

Woman searching for cause of smoke dies in Ohio house fire

CENTERVILLE, Ohio (AP) — Authorities say a woman died in a fire at her southwest Ohio home after she and her husband went looking for the source of the initial smoke.

There was no immediate word on the cause of the blaze early Tuesday morning in Centerville, roughly 45 miles northeast of Cincinnati.

Washington Township Fire Chief William Gaul III says the woman and her husband awoke and began searching for the source of the smoke.

Gaul says the smoke and flames intensified, and the man went outside, believing he’d find his wife there, too. The woman was later found in the back of the home.

The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office identified her as 68-year-old Mary Atkinson.

Mexican mom with 4 US-born kids near deportation

CINCINNATI (AP) — Attorneys for a Mexican mother of four U.S.-born children living in Ohio say she has been scheduled for deportation Wednesday.

Maribel Trujillo Diaz was moved to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s LaSalle detention center near Jena, Louisiana, after a federal appeals court on April 11 dismissed her bid for an emergency order halting deportation.

Attorney Kathleen Kersh said Tuesday attorneys are urging ICE officials to allow her to remain, and they have asked the Board of Immigration Appeals to re-open her case. Trujillo Diaz has sought asylum, saying her family has been targeted by drug cartels.

Attorneys also continue to encourage supporters that include many faith leaders to press federal authorities.

Immigration officials say she entered the U.S. illegally in 2002 and has exhausted her appeals.

Ohio lawmaker no longer faces felony count after DUI arrest

HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio state lawmaker no longer faces a felony charge that could have resulted in his automatic ouster from the legislature.

A Butler County grand jury has indicted Rep. Wes Retherford, of Hamilton, only on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence. Police initially charged the Republican legislator also with improper handling of a firearm in a vehicle, a felony. The grand jury declined to indict on that count.

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office said Retherford was arrested March 12 after a report of a man passed out behind the wheel at a McDonald’s restaurant. Deputies said they found a loaded handgun in a car seat.

Retherford hasn’t commented publicly on the circumstances of his arrest, but requested privacy. A message seeking comment was left Tuesday for his attorney.

Inmate may be freed after DNA raises doubts in Ohio slaying

CLEVELAND (AP) — A man who has spent 23 years in prison for his girlfriend’s slaying but maintains his innocence could be released soon after the new county prosecutor in Cleveland asked a court to vacate his conviction.

Cuyahoga County prosecutors asked that 59-year-old Evin King be granted bail while they further investigate. Prosecutors say advances in DNA testing and understanding forensic evidence have called into question the theory of the crime that prosecutors presented at King’s trial in 1995.

Cleveland.com reports King learned about the development in a phone call from the Ohio Innocence Project, which has represented him in appeals. In video of the call, King says he knew such a day would come eventually.

His girlfriend, Crystal Hudson, was strangled and found in her closet in 1994.

Ohio pastor says foster son died playing ‘Superman’ game

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — A former Ohio pastor now charged with murder says his 2-year-old foster son died after hitting his head on a wall while playing what they called “the Superman game.”

At trial Monday, the attorney for Torace Weaver says his client was spinning the boy around when the child’s head accidentally hit a corner. The attorney says the 38-year-old Dayton man panicked when it happened, which is why he initially told police the boy had fallen.

The coroner says the boy had 20 head injuries, a severe burn on his arm and other injuries on his back. Prosecutors say Weaver cannot explain the burn and never had it treated. The boy died of a catastrophic skull fracture on Nov. 18, 2015.

Weaver’s wife is also on trial, charged with endangering children.

Critics: DuPont spent more on legal fees than chemical tests

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Critics say DuPont has spent too little on testing Ohio and West Virginia residents for contamination from a chemical used to make Teflon, while paying millions to a lawyer overseeing the testing program.

The Columbus Dispatch reports DuPont spent about $860,000 on testing for contamination from the chemical used to make Teflon.

A court filing this month revealed the lawyer who oversees the medical testing program was paid nearly $15 million.

Cincinnati attorney Robert Bilott filed a class-action lawsuit against DuPont alleging the company released C8-tainted water into the Ohio River. The company settled in 2004 and agreed to pay 70,000 residents to have their blood tested for C8.

About 2,020 people have been tested. Bilott says the company has more than enough funds to cover the program’s cost.

New route to start between airports in Ohio, North Carolina

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A new air service route between Ohio and North Carolina has been announced for an airport in northwest Ohio.

The president and chief executive officer of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority announced Monday that American Airlines will launch a twice-daily nonstop service between Toledo Express Airport in northwest Ohio and Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina. The service will start Aug. 22.

Port authority President Paul Toth says the airport received a $750,000 grant from the federal government in 2011 that would help subsidize the cost of the flights.

Officials say the flights will be on a 50-seat regional jet, and the new service is expected to increase total traffic at the airport by as much as 30 percent.