Ohio News Briefs

Residents evacuated after gas well explodes in eastern Ohio

ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio (AP) — Residents living within a mile of a natural gas well that exploded and caught fire in eastern Ohio can’t return home until experts arrive and stop the well from spewing gas and brine.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says the XTO Energy well in Belmont County’s York Township exploded Thursday morning. No injuries have been reported.

XTO spokeswoman Karen Matusic says 24 employees were preparing the newly drilled well for production when the explosion occurred. Matusic says 36 homes had to be evacuated. XTO is a subsidiary of ExxonMobil.

Three producing wells on the same pad were shut down.

State officials say air and water air samples are being collected and that the Ohio and U.S. environmental protection agencies are taking measures to ensure residents’ safety.

Ohio State Fair accident victims reach settlement

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Those injured in a deadly accident last summer at the Ohio State Fair have reached a settlement with the state.

The settlement was announced during an Ohio Expositions Commission meeting Thursday.

According to the motion, the settlement’s terms include no money coming out of the state treasury and the plaintiffs fully releasing the state and the expositions commission.

The Fire Ball ride broke apart at the State Fair in July 2017, killing 18-year-old high school student Tyler Jarrell and injuring seven people. Dutch manufacturer KMG says the cause was excessive corrosion of a support beam.

Ohio State Fair spokeswoman Alicia Shoults says the lawsuit must be filed and the settlement approved by the state Court of Claims for the deal to move forward.

State’s 2 largest solar-array projects receive approval

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio officials have approved permits for what would be the two largest solar arrays in the state.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the two projects approved Thursday are the Hardin Solar Center in Hardin County and the Hillcrest Solar Farm in Brown County. If built, the combined capacity of the projects would be 275 megawatts. The current largest project in the state has a capacity of 28.7 megawatts.

The developers have not disclosed the cost of the privately-financed projects.

An analyst for Invenergy estimates the Hardin Solar Center will generate enough electricity to power 28,000 houses. A Hillcrest Solar developer says the project will meet the electricity needs of about 30,000 houses.

Both solar projects will cover a combined 2,200 acres.

Sheriff: Prisoner died of asphyxiation in jail suicide

TROY, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio county sheriff says a prisoner has died of asphyxiation after hanging himself in a jail cell.

The Dayton Daily News reports Sheriff Dave Duchak in central Ohio’s Miami County has identified the prisoner as 41-year-old Shannon Gambill, of Piqua. Gambill was found dead in his cell around 1 a.m. Thursday. Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful.

Gambill was booked in the Miami County jail Saturday and charged with felonious assault and domestic violence after firing gunshots during an argument with family members.

Duchak says Gambill asked to be kept in a single cell because he was suffering from alcohol withdrawal.

The Sheriff’s Office and Miami County Coroner’s Office are investigating Gambill’s death.

Attorney files motion seeking release of Ohio serial killer

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Attorneys for a man who helped his brother murder three people in a string of nine northwest Ohio serial killings decades ago have filed a motion seeking his release from prison.

The Blade reports 59-year-old Nathaniel Cook’s attorneys filed documents Thursday saying Cook has complied with plea agreement terms calling for his release after serving 20 years.

Cook and his older brother, Anthony, agreed in 2000 to confess to killings they’d committed during the early 1980s. Nathaniel Cook confessed to participating in three of his brother’s nine slayings that involved attacks on couples in cars and abductions and rapes of young women.

Anthony Cook is serving consecutive life sentences.

Prosecutors want Nathaniel Cook evaluated and classified as a sexual predator.

A court hearing is scheduled for March 8.

Jury convicts Ohio man in beating death of toddler

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A jury deliberated over parts of four days before finding an Ohio man guilty in the beating death of a 14-month-old boy and for tossing his body into a Columbus creek with the help of the child’s mother.

The Columbus Dispatch reports 27-year-old Kurt Flood was convicted Thursday in Columbus of murder, felonious assault, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.

Flood testified he didn’t beat Cameron Beckford but did help 28-year-old Dainesha Stevens dispose of the body in December 2014. Stevens testified Flood repeatedly struck Cameron with a hair brush to “beat the demons out of him.”

Stevens pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence in exchange for her testimony. She hasn’t been sentenced.

Flood’s attorney called Stevens a “pathological liar” during his closing argument.

Officials identify body found in concrete buried in backyard

MASSILLON, Ohio (AP) — Officials have identified the body encased in concrete and buried in a backyard in Ohio.

The Stark County Coroner’s Office said Thursday the body is that of 26-year-old Nicholas Stein, who was reported missing in February 2017.

A search for Stein led authorities to home in Massillon where he recently lived. They discovered his body inside a plastic container buried in the yard Feb. 2.

Police have charged 27-year-old Carl Spencer, of Hartville, with murder. Court records show he entered no plea Monday.

Defense attorney Derek Lowry previously said Spencer is pleading not guilty but declined further comment.

Spencer is currently jailed on $5 million bond.

Gibbons lands support for US Senate bid from Rand Paul

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland businessman Mike Gibbons has landed the endorsement of Republican Rand Paul in his bid for U.S. Senate.

The second-term senator from Kentucky on Thursday called Gibbons a fiscal and constitutional conservative who can be trusted to “stand up and fight for smaller government and less government overreach into our lives.”

The nod from Paul, a former presidential contender, comes as Gibbons faces U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci (reh-NAY’-see) and family business owner Melissa Ackison for the Republican nomination.

Renacci has been endorsed by the Ohio Republican Party, Sen. Rob Portman and made a recent appearance with President Donald Trump.

Gibbons, a political newcomer, has won some key grassroots support, including from the Franklin County GOP in the state’s second-largest county.

Incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown is unopposed in the Democratic primary.