Ohio News Briefs

Ohio Senate approves bill outlawing bestiality in the state

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Members of the Ohio Senate have unanimously voted to approve a bill that would make having sex with animals a crime in the state.

Senate Bill 195 passed 31-0 on Wednesday and now heads to the Ohio House of Representatives, which must consider the legislation within the next week for it to be finalized before the end of session.

Ohio is currently one of 11 states that do not have anti-bestiality laws.

The bill expressly prohibits individuals from engaging in sexual conduct with animals and related acts. It also authorizes the seizure of animals used for sexual purposes and stipulates that offenders must undergo psychological counseling.

Sen. Jay Hottinger, a Newark Republican and co-sponsor of the bill, says animal abuse often leads to similar behavior against children and others.

3 central Ohio teens charged with raping 13-year-old

MARYSVILLE, Ohio (AP) — Three central Ohio teenagers have been charged with raping a 13-year-old girl following a high school football game in September.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the Marysville boys — ages 14, 15 and 17 — were each arrested Monday and charged with two Juvenile Court counts of rape and theft.

The incident occurred after the victim and two of the suspects allegedly stole alcohol and condoms from a supermarket following a Marysville High School football game on Sept. 25.

Police say the 17-year-old suspect drove the group to a wooded area in northern Union County, where the assault took place.

After the victim became so intoxicated that she couldn’t give consent, prosecutors say two of the teens raped her. The third boy was found to be complicit and equally responsible.

Feds find no major environmental issues with NEXUS pipeline

GREEN, Ohio (AP) — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has found no major environmental issues with the NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline project, paving the way for construction to begin in early 2017.

The findings were included in FERC’s 541-page final environmental impact statement, which the agency released on Wednesday.

In addition, FERC determined that the pipeline does not have to follow any alternate routes proposed by the city of Green and a collective of Summit County landowners.

The project consists of constructing more than 256 miles of 36-inch pipeline to carry natural gas fracked from the Marcellus and Utica shale regions of Ohio.

Nearly 210 miles of the pipeline will cut through Ohio.

NEXUS spokesman Adam Parker called FERC’s positive impact statement a major milestone for keeping the pipeline on track for final approval.

Woman gets life in prison for slaying, dismembering woman

MANSFIELD, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio woman has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole in the slaying and dismemberment of a neighbor.

The Mansfield News Journal reports 58-year-old Linda Buckner told the judge during sentencing Wednesday she hoped to later prove her innocence. A jury deliberated a few hours Wednesday before finding Buckner guilty of aggravated murder and other charges in the death of 62-year-old Patsy Hudson.

Hudson was reported missing in July 2015. Parts of her dismembered body were found in February at different locations in Richland County.

A coroner said Hudson died from a stab wound to the neck.

Prosecutors say Buckner and 53-year-old Walter Renz plotted to steal from Hudson. Renz was indicted in the slaying but has been declared incompetent to stand trial.

Cleveland area logs dozens more overdose deaths from October

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland-area medical examiner says heroin and fentanyl overdoses killed at least 42 people in his county in October.

An additional 16 deaths are suspected opiate overdoses. Cleveland.com reports that if testing confirms those 16, it would be Cuyahoga County’s highest monthly total of overdose deaths to date.

The current record is from September, when the county logged 55 overdose deaths.

The medical examiner’s office says testing in the October deaths has shown no sign of carfentanil, the powerful animal sedative that previously has turned up around Cleveland and in some other parts of Ohio.

So far this year, Cuyahoga County has had at least 446 deaths from heroin or fentanyl overdoses. That’s nearly double the 228 overdose fatalities reported last year.

Judge’s error makes man’s guilty plea to Ohio murder invalid

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A central Ohio man imprisoned for murder must choose whether to pursue a new plea deal or a trial after an appeals court concluded his guilty plea is invalid because of a judge’s error.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the Franklin County Court of Appeals vacated Raymond Johnson’s pleas and reversed his convictions this week. The court says the judge who accepted Johnson’s pleas in October 2015 failed to inform him of his right to confront witnesses if the case went to trial.

The 35-year-old Johnson was accused of shooting into a duplex and killing a man in April 2014, and he apologized to the man’s family in court. Johnson had subsequently tried unsuccessfully to withdraw his pleas and argued that he’s innocent and that he had ineffective legal representation.

Ohioan accused of raping teen relative can represent himself

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A judge says an Ohio man who denied allegations of imprisoning and raping a teenage relative can represent himself in court, just like his adult son, who’s also charged.

A county judge in Toledo previously ended Timothy Ciboro’s self-representation, citing courtroom conduct that included outbursts. But the judge on Wednesday decided Ciboro could resume acting as his own attorney, though she noted she had reservations about that.

The judge also decided a comfort dog can be in court when alleged child victims in the case are testifying.

A prosecutor says it’s meant to ease the courtroom environment for young victims who will face questioning by the defendants.

The Ciboros argued the dog is distracting and could be replaced with a stuffed animal.

Both men have pleaded not guilty.

Ohio patrol, 5 neighboring states to target impaired driving

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — State Highway Patrol troopers in Ohio and their counterparts in five neighboring states will target impaired driving in an enforcement effort this weekend.

The effort starts early Friday and continues through Sunday. It will include the state police agencies from Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Ohio troopers have made more than 23,000 arrests for driving under the influence so far this year.

The patrol’s superintendent, Col. Paul Pride, says troopers take impaired driving seriously and will enforce the law to get dangerous drivers off the roads.

The weekend effort is part of the 6-State Trooper Project. It’s a multi-state law enforcement partnership aimed at providing combined and coordinated law enforcement and security services in the areas of highway safety, criminal patrol and intelligence sharing.