Ohio News Briefs

Officials: State fair attendance down after deadly accident

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Officials say a deadly thrill ride accident on the opening day of this year’s Ohio State Fair contributed to a significant drop in attendance.

Officials said Tuesday that about 801,000 people attended the fair this year, the lowest number since it switched to its current 12-day format in 2004. Last year, more than 920,000 attended.

Tyler Durrell died from blunt force trauma injuries after being tossed into the air when the Fire Ball ride broke apart July 26. Seven others were injured. Four remained hospitalized last week, including one woman in a coma.

The Dutch manufacturer of the ride says excessive corrosion on a support beam led to a “catastrophic failure.” It ordered similar rides shut down worldwide after the accident.

Ohio authorities exhume newborn’s body to ID through DNA

DEFIANCE, Ohio (AP) — Authorities in Ohio have exhumed the remains of a newborn girl found dead two decades ago in the hope that DNA comparisons will lead to her identity.

WNWO-TV reports the exhumation occurred Tuesday at the Defiance County cemetery where the newborn’s body was found inside a dry cleaning bag in 1994. Riverview Memory Gardens in Defiance buried the child beneath a marble and bronze marker identifying her as Baby Jane Doe.

Defiance County Sheriff Doug Engel worked on the early investigation. He says detectives ran down hundreds of leads without success and hopes new DNA technology and help from the FBI will lead to Baby Jane Doe’s identity.

Engel says the child’s DNA will be compared with samples collected for a national database since her death.

Judge to hear ex-treasure hunter’s request to end jail time

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio judge will hear a request by an ex-treasure hunter jailed on contempt-of-court charges to end his imprisonment.

Federal Judge Algenon Marbley has held defendant Tommy Thompson in contempt since December 2015 for violating terms of a plea deal by refusing to respond to questions about the location of 500 missing gold coins.

Thompson’s attorney argues federal law prohibits holding someone under such conditions for longer than 18 months. Investors in the treasure hunt trying to recoup their money disagree.

Marbley has scheduled arguments from both sides for Aug. 18.

The coins are valued at up to $4 million and were minted from gold taken from the S.S. Central America. It sank in an 1857 hurricane.

Thompson has hinted the coins were turned over to a trust in Belize.

1 dead, 4 hospitalized in wrong-way crash

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Police in Ohio say one person has died and four others have been hospitalized, including two children, after a wrong-way crash.

Columbus police say 41-year-old Richard Hough was driving the wrong way down a highway ramp in Franklin County on Tuesday when he crashed head-on into a vehicle driven by 63-year-old Betty Griggs.

Griggs was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Three passengers in her car, 38-year-old Amanda Griggs and two girls, ages 8 and 2, were hospitalized in critical condition.

Hough was taken to a hospital in stable condition.

No charges have been filed.

Ohio slaying suspect changes mind about representing self

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio man who faces a possible death penalty if convicted of fatally beating a woman in 2015 has changed his mind about representing himself.

The Vindicator in Youngstown reports Lance Hundley made the decision to ask that his court-appointed attorneys be reinstated following a Monday court hearing.

The newspaper says the hearing involved Hundley’s request to suppress a brief statement he made to police the day of his arrest because of an alleged violation of his Miranda rights. A Mahoning County judge granted that request, and the 47-year-old Hundley questioned the detective assigned to his case.

The Vindicator reports the judge then agreed to reinstate the attorneys at Hundley’s request after the hearing.

Hundley has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder in 41-year-old Erika Huff’s 2015 slaying.

Ohio company declares bankruptcy, blames owner’s conviction

CLEVELAND (AP) — A telemarketing company owned by a politically connected multimillionaire who was sent to prison for witness tampering has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Suarez Corporation Industries said in a bankruptcy court filing that it owes $10 million to $50 million and has $500,000 to $1 million in assets.

Company owner Ben Suarez, 75, was convicted of witness tampering charges in a campaign finance investigation and spent just over a year in prison before being released in early 2016.

Suarez was convicted of witness tampering in June 2014 but acquitted of seven other charges related to campaign contributions made by employees, relatives and others to the 2012 campaigns of U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci and the failed U.S. Senate bid of Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel. He had sought the politicians’ help in fighting a California consumer practices complaint.

Neither politician was accused of wrongdoing. Both campaigns returned the money after an FBI investigation was made public.

Suarez’s attorneys argued that he did not know it was illegal to reimburse the contributors.

Cleveland.com reports that a court filing blamed the SCI’s current money trouble on the Great Recession and Suarez’s time in prison.

The company based near Canton owes money to 100 to 200 creditors, including property companies, technology companies and banks, according to the bankruptcy petition.

Report: Inmate used hole to pass between high-security cells

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — An investigative report says a hole between high-security cells at an Ohio prison was so big an inmate was able to shimmy through to play cards with prisoners next door.

The State Highway Patrol report says the hole wasn’t discovered until inmate Casey Pigge (pihj) used a cinder block from the wall to kill his cellmate.

The Ohio prisons agency tells the Dayton Daily News that steel plates have now been installed on cell walls.

Pigge was sentenced to life without parole for the 2016 death of cellmate Luther Wade.

Pigge has also pleaded not guilty to killing a fellow inmate in a prison transport van in February.

Steve Larson, an attorney representing Pigge, said he wasn’t familiar with the report and is focusing on Pigge’s current case.