Ronald Phillips gets no mercy -- but he does get another month on Death Row. Governor Kasich reschedule the Akron killer's execution date after an indefinite stay from a federal court on Ohio's next three scheduled executions, including Phillips.
Kasich moved the date to February 15th but any execution would be determined by court appeals. Kasich agreed with the Ohio Parole Board against clemency for Phillips, who raped and killed his then-girlfriend's three old daughter in 1993.
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(Governor John Kasich) In response to a federal court order issued on Monday which indefinitely stayed three executions scheduled in 2017, today Governor John R. Kasich issued short delays for the scheduled executions of the first two inmates – Ronald Phillips and Raymond Tibbetts. Phillips was convicted in 1993 in Summit County for the rape and murder of a three-year-old girl, and Tibbetts was convicted in 1998 in Hamilton County for the murder of his wife and the couple's 67-year-old landlord. Additionally, Kasich denied Phillips' request for clemency.
"The State disagrees with the federal court's indefinite stay and has already filed a notice of appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Given the uncertainty created by the Court's order, however, this brief delay should provide the Court time to resolve any pending legal issues," said Emmalee Kalmbach, the governor's press secretary.
The actions announced today will delay Phillips' scheduled January 12 execution to February 15, 2017, and Tibbetts' from February 15 to April 12, 2017.
Agreeing with the Ohio Parole Board in denying clemency to Phillips, Gov. Kasich stated: "Given the extremely brutal nature of the offense committed against an innocent three-year-old child, I agree with the Ohio Parole Board's recommendation that clemency is not warranted in this case."
A $25 million federal lawsuit has been filed, claiming Akron landlord Joni Laidig failed to install smoke detectors in the home on E. Tallmadge Avenue that caught fire.
Four members of an Akron family, including two young children died in that fire in the early morning hours of December 3. Three of the four who died were named in the lawsuit that was filed on behalf of their estate.
The lawsuit claims that 37-year-old Omar Riley and his two daughters, 9-year-old Shanice and 8-year-old Aniyla, all died "as a result of the lack of smoke detectors."
Shirley Wallis, Riley's girlfriend, also died in the fire, but was not named in the lawsuit. Her 12-year-old daughter Shaniya Simpson was able to escape the fire alive.
The investigation and now lawsuit are both ongoing.
A very well-known figure in Akron's art and education circles is leaving one job for an "unspecified" change of pace. Weathervane Theater's Lisa Mansfield -- who also serves on Akron's school board -- is leaving the theater the end of the month. Mansfield tells WAKR she will be stepping down to take a position as Community Outreach Specialist with incoming Summit County Probate Judge Elinor Marsh Stormer. She says she will continue with her term on the Akron Public School Board through 2017. Mansfield's last day with Weathervane is effective Saturday, December 31st.
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(Weathervane Playhouse) After successfully co-leading Weathervane Playhouse for the past year and a half and serving at the Playhouse for more than 11 years, Lisa Mansfield is stepping down as Managing Director as of December 31, 2016.During her time at Weathervane, Mansfield worked in several capacitates including Patron Services Manager, Group Sales, Education Programs Coordinator, and then her current role as Managing Director. Mansfield served as Co-director with Artistic Director Melanie Pepe since 2015.
“Lisa has brought an energy and grace to Weathervane that has been very visible and much appreciated,” said Debbie Davis, President of the Board of Trustees. “Her community outreach activities have been invaluable. Her warmth and affability are irreplaceable. She promises that she will not be a stranger to Weathervane.”Under Mansfield’s leadership, the Playhouse has seen growth in subscriptions, ticket sales, and donations. She is proud of her efforts in creating strong community partnerships and tie-ins with productions such as involving the Red Cross for Dracula, hair donations for Wigs for Kids during Hair, and a canned food drive with the Akron Canton Regional Foodbank during A Christmas Carol.
“A new opportunity has been presented for me, and I feel called to accept the challenge. I hope to remain a champion for improving the lives of those in our community, just as I have been called to do in my various roles with Weathervane,” said Mansfield. Melanie Pepe will remain at the helm as Artistic Director and in management of the current and interim staff during the search for a new Managing Director. Mansfield will be beginning her role as Community Outreach Specialist for Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer in Summit County Probate Court early next year.
Summit County Sheriff's Office caught up with and arrested John Richmond, who they suspect is the man robbed the Palms Skill Games on South Arlington in Coventry Township a couple of weeks ago.
Surveillance video shows a man kick open the door around 5:20 on December 7th and brandish a semi-automatic handgun with a laser-sight.
Richmond, from Uniontown, is charged with Aggravated Robbery. Detectives have recovered the cash and the pistol used in the robbery. Richmond is in Summit County Jail.
See the full press release from the Summit County Sheriff's Office below:
On December 7, 2016, at approximately 5:20 p.m., the Summit County Sheriff’s Office responded to an armed robbery at The Palms Skill Games, located at 2766 South Arlington Road in Coventry Township. A white male kicked open the front door and made entry into the business. The suspect was armed with a semiautomatic handgun equipped with a laser sight. The suspect ordered all the patrons inside to remain seated and he then ordered the cashier to give him cash or people would be killed. The Summit County Sheriff’s Detective Bureau conducted an investigation into the matter. Subsequently, the suspect in the investigation was identified as John E. Richmond, age 30 of Uniontown. On December 19, Richmond was arrested and charged with Aggravated Robbery (F-1). He was booked into the Summit County Jail. The stolen cash and the handgun used in the robbery were recovered by detectives.
Ohio Governor John Kasich signed controversial Senate Bill 199 into law Monday night, lifting the current ban on carrying concealed weapons in public places like daycares, public areas of airports, and school safety zones.
The bill also gives colleges and universities the authority to allow weapons on their campuses. Private businesses can still ban weapons under the new law, which designates it as the choice of any private business. Still no concealed carry in police stations and courthouses.
Canton Police say it was a father and son who were killed in a murder-suicide that left North Canton Middle School closed Monday.
There were two crime scenes police investigated, forcing the school closure; one at a home on Harmon Street Southwest where the father, later identified as Ronald G. Milliken, was found with multiple gunshot wounds. The 18-year-old son, Devin P Milliken, was found outside a city park restroom on Hillcrest Avenue Southwest, not far from the home.
Stark County Coroner conducting an official autopsy.
Summit County Sheriff's Office has identified the suspects who they say entered the Queen of Heaven Church in the City of Green on December 8, and stole a woman's purse while she was in line for Communion.
The 79-year-old victim says she left her purse unattended in the pew, but the Sheriff's Office says the theft was captured on surveillance camera. The two suspects, identified as Raymond B. Jarvis, 53, and Michelle L. Wells, 38, went to local Acme and Dollar General stores and used the woman's stolen credit cards to but more than $1,000 worth of items.
It is reportedly not the first church theft the two suspects have been a part of. According to a press release from the Sheriff's Office, similar thefts have been reported and they've been named the suspects. One of the reported incidents happened at a church in Iowa.
Warrants have been issued for both Jarvis and Wells. Anyone with information is asked to call the Summit County Sheriff's Office at 330-643-8637.
Akron Police have charged 47-year-old Derrick Williams with murder in connection to his mother's death.
Last Thursday police were called to the home of 78-year-old Alaine Williams, where she was found unresponsive by her daugther. In the 911 call, her daughter said it was her brother Derrick that killed their mother. An investigation and autopsy revealed that Alaine died of blunt-force trauma to the head.
Police caught up with Derrick Williams over the weekend, reportedly at the home in Akron. He has been booked in Summit County Jail.
North Canton police are investigating what appears to be two dead in a home on Harmon Street -- what could be a murder-suicide. Police found a 49-year old man dead inside the house in the 500 block of Harmon Street SW and about an hour later another man, 18-years old, at a nearby park off Hillcrest Avenue SW from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
North Canton schools have closed the nearby middle school because of it but all other schools are open today.
The school district noted on it's Facebook page "The North Canton Middle School will be CLOSED TODAY (12/19/16) due to police activity and crime scene in the area. There are street closures in the area but there is no involvement concerning the middle school. All other buildings and programs in the district will be open today."
Officials were quick to say they don't believe the shootings had anything to do with the nearby middle school, which is closed strictly because of the investigation. Police were called to the home around 1:30 this morning after reports of gunshots heard by neighbors.
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(North Canton PD) On Monday, December 19, 2016 at approximately 1:30 am the North Canton Police Department received a call from a resident in the 500 block of Harmon St. SW. Police and North Canton Fire Department medics responded to the residence for an unresponsive 49 year old male who was found to have suffered several gunshot wounds.
Police officers conducted an immediate search of the home and surrounding area for another person possibly involved with the incident in the residence. At approximately 2:50 am officers found a second person, an 18 year old male, outside a City park restroom in the 300 block of Hillcrest Ave. SW. That person appeared to have suffered from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Investigator Rick Walters from Stark County Coroner Dr. Murthy’s Office and Crime Scene Investigators form the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification (BCI&I) responded to assist with the investigation of the two crime scenes. North Canton City School Superintendent’s Office was contacted with the request to cancel only classes at the North Canton Middle School due to the proximity of the nearby crime scene and the amount of time it will take to keep the area secured from the public.
No names of the victims are being released at this time in order to make family notifications of the deaths.
Kerieda Beavers, 22, of Ericsson Avenue in Akron has been sentenced to life in prison for the shooting death of her boyfriend. Beavers, who will not be eligible for parole for 18 years, was sentenced Friday in Summit County Common Pleas Court by visiting Judge H.F. Inderlied.
On January 9, 2016, Beavers and her boyfriend Tevael Parker got into an argument. Beavers, according to court documents, shot Parker in the head killing him. Parker was 22-years-old. Beavers said she and Parker were together for three years before the shooting. She was convicted by a Summit County jury back on November 23, 2016.
In a statement released Friday, Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said, "I am pleased my office was able to secure justice for this victim and his family. I will continue to aggressively prosecute gun violence in our community."
The Summit County Sheriff's Office, along with the local FBI office, says they've arrested 10 people during a prostitution and human trafficking sting Thursday.
Inspector Bill Holland says the bust was part of an ongoing investigation in an attempt to crack down on human trafficking in the county and beyond. The operation included undercover deputies and agents who were contacted through websites that advertise sexual services for money. All of the arrests were made at a Green hotel where the parties agreed to meet while online.
The 10 who were arrested are facing charges ranging from prostitution to possession of cocaine.
When asked why Ohio sees such a large number of human trafficking cases compared to other states, Inspector Holland said there are a number of theories, but the number of interstates that run through Ohio definitely factor in. Holland also mentioned Ohio's close proximity to the Canadian border.
Ohio Supreme Court upholding the death sentence of Dawud Spaulding of Akron; convicted in the double homicide of Erika Singleton, the mother of his children, and her boyfriend Ernest Thomas.
Court documents reveal Spaulding killed Singleton and Thomas outside of Thomas's Akron home back in December 2011.
Spaulding appealed, but the Court confirmed the murder convictions and sentence in a 6-1 vote Thursday morning. No date has been set for Spaulding's execution.
(Court News Ohio) A man convicted in Summit County of killing his children’s mother and the man she was dating will remain on death row, the Supreme Court ruled today.
The Court voted 6-1, in an opinion written by Justice Judith L. French, to uphold the convictions and death sentence of Dawud Spaulding, who murdered Erika Singleton and Ernest Thomas in December 2011 outside Thomas’ Akron home. A few hours earlier in the same location, Spaulding shot Thomas’ nephew Patrick Griffin, paralyzing him.
Justice William M. O’Neill dissented based on the admission of certain “bad character” evidence during Spaulding’s trial. Justice O’Neill would set aside the guilty verdicts and return the case to the trial court to separate the charges into two trials.
Spaulding Convicted of Domestic Violence
Spaulding and Singleton started dating in 1999 or 2000. They had two children – one born in 2004 and the other born five years later.
After Singleton contacted police in April 2010 about a stolen car radio and threats from Spaulding, he was convicted of domestic violence and telecommunications harassment. He was fined $200 and received a 10-day suspended sentence. Spaulding pleaded guilty to felony domestic violence for striking Singleton and knocking her to the floor in February 2011. The court sentenced him to a three-year suspended prison term if he completed three years of community control, ordered him to have no unlawful contact with Singleton, and set conditions for visits with his children.
After November 2011 Incident, Felony Charges Filed
Singleton called 911 on Nov. 28, 2011, to report that Spaulding had broken into her apartment. She said Spaulding stayed there for hours, restrained her, threatened her with a knife and a gun, demanded money, then left. While officers were at the scene, Spaulding called her and said “let this go” and “I’m watching you now.” Police issued an arrest warrant for aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, domestic violence, and kidnapping – all first-degree felonies.
Singleton moved to a battered women’s shelter, and a magistrate approved a one-year civil protection order against Spaulding. The court scheduled a final hearing on Dec. 14, when Spaulding would be permitted to respond to the allegations.
Spaulding later conveyed to police that he told Singleton he would pay her $2,500 to drop the charges and she agreed, but did not take any money. Singleton asked police on Dec. 6 if she could have the charges dismissed. She did not show up at the Dec. 14 final hearing for the protection order.
Three Shootings Take Place the Next Morning
On Dec. 14, Singleton asked her mother to watch her children, went to the movies with Thomas, and returned with him to his house. They spent some time with Griffin and one of his friends. Griffin and the friend left the house not long before 2 a.m. on Dec. 15 to buy food and sell cocaine. Griffin stepped out of the side door of the house and was shot in the back of the neck.
Police were called, and Griffin was taken to the hospital. Thomas and Singleton were driven to Singleton’s apartment about 3:30 or 4 a.m. At approximately 7:45 a.m., Singleton called her mother and said she was on her way to pick up one of her kids for school. Minutes later, Spaulding called Singleton’s mom. He asked whether Singleton had arrived and laughed. Two men discovered Singleton and Thomas lying in Thomas’ driveway at 8:01 a.m. and called 911.
Singleton was found holding luggage and a purse, and Thomas was found next to his running car with the door open and a piece of luggage sitting near the car. More luggage and a bag of clothes were in the car’s backseat. Singleton and Thomas both died from single gunshot wounds to the back of the head. Although the weapon used to shoot Griffin, Singleton, and Thomas was not found, officers recovered shell casings after each shooting, which were determined to have been shot from the same gun.
Jury Convicts Spaulding, Sentences Him to Death
Spaulding was charged with two counts of aggravated murder and with attempted murder, felonious assault, domestic violence, menacing by stalking, intimidation of a crime victim or witness, violating a protection order, and having weapons while under a disability, along with multiple firearm and death-penalty specifications.
The jury convicted Spaulding of all counts and specifications except for menacing by stalking and the capital specification that alleged Spaulding purposely killed Singleton to stop her from testifying as a witness in another case. The trial court sentenced Spaulding to death plus 32 1/2 years on the remaining counts.
Spaulding appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, raising 14 issues. The Court is mandated to hear all death-penalty appeals.
Court Rejects Argument for Separate Trials
Before trial, the court denied a motion from Spaulding to separate the charges related to the murders of Singleton and Thomas from those concerning Griffin’s attempted murder. In this appeal, Spaulding asserted that the domestic violence and menacing-by-stalking charges should have been separated from the aggravated-murder and attempted-murder offenses.
Justice French noted that evidence of Spaulding’s past domestic violence was necessary to prove the domestic violence and menacing-by-stalking charges, and the jury’s exposure to that evidence might prejudice Spaulding on the other charges. The Court determined that the trial court would have been justified in severing the domestic violence and menacing-by-stalking counts if Spaulding had specifically requested it and provided the trial court with adequate information about the prejudicial effect of having one trial for all the offenses.
“That said, the trial court did not plainly err by permitting these counts to be tried together,” she wrote. “The joinder of these counts was not erroneous on its face at the outset of trial. And even if it had been, given the substantial evidence of Spaulding’s guilt, the alleged error was not outcome determinative.”
She pointed out that Griffin identified Spaulding as his shooter and that a witness saw Spaulding approaching Singleton and Thomas in Thomas’ driveway right before the murders. In addition, ballistics evidence showed the same gun was used in both incidents, she noted.
Prior Convictions, Magistrate Testimony Did Not Alter Outcome
Spaulding also challenged the admission of testimony about his 2001 conviction for committing domestic violence against his mother and sister. Justice French explained that the existence of this conviction was relevant and admissible because it supported both the domestic violence charge, which required proof of at least two other domestic violence convictions, and the menacing-by-stalking charge, which is a more serious felony if the state can show a history of violence. However, Justice French reasoned, the state had no need to introduce the specific facts underlying the 2001 conviction to prove those charges.
“Unlike the details of Spaulding’s past domestic violence against Singleton, the details of this offense are not probative of whether she believed that Spaulding would cause her physical harm,” Justice French wrote. “Under these circumstances, the risk that the jury may have been ‘prejudicially influenced by details of the prior crime’ clearly outweighed any probative value of the evidence.”
However, enough other evidence supported Spaulding’s convictions that he could not demonstrate that this particular evidence infringed on his substantial rights, the Court concluded.
Spaulding also contended that the trial court wrongly allowed court journal entries about his prior convictions to be entered as evidence at trial. Based on a 1997 U.S. Supreme Court decision, he argued he instead should have been able to stipulate to the convictions. Although the Ohio Supreme Court has a case pending about whether the federal ruling applies to prosecutions under state law, Justice French rejected Spaulding’s claim, pointing out that he neither offered to stipulate to his convictions during his trial nor objected to the court allowing the jury to consider the journal entries.
In addition, Spaulding argued that permitting two magistrates to testify about Singleton’s hearings to obtain civil protection orders against him was improper because the jury may have given their statements greater weight as court officials. This assertion and Spaulding’s remaining arguments fail, the Court concluded.
Court’s Independent Evaluation Reinforces Convictions and Sentence
As required by statute, the Court independently reviewed the death sentence for appropriateness and proportionality. The evidence in this case supported the aggravating circumstance that the aggravated murders of Singleton and Thomas and Griffin’s attempted murder “were part of a single course of conduct that involved the purposeful killing or attempt to kill two or more people,” Justice French explained.
The Court considered various mitigating factors, such as Spaulding’s family background, noting that he and his sister had a fairly stable upbringing with their parents, but Spaulding’s older half-brothers introduced him to drug use and dealing, and he felt devastated when his father died in 2010. Though these and other issues together were entitled to some weight, the Court determined that the aggravating circumstance outweighed the mitigating factors beyond a reasonable doubt.
Last, the Court ruled that the sentence of death in this case was proportionate to other similar death-penalty cases and upheld Spaulding’s convictions and death sentence.
Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Paul E. Pfeifer, Terrence O’Donnell, Judith Ann Lanzinger, and Sharon L. Kennedy joined Justice French’s opinion.
Dissent Would Order Separate Trials
Justice O’Neill stated that the evidence of Spaulding’s 2001 conviction for domestic violence and the testimony from the two magistrates amounted to “inadmissible character evidence.” The majority, he noted, “stretches the imagination to the breaking point” by concluding that the 2001 conviction involving violence against his mother and sister had no influence on the jury’s decision to convict Spaulding. He also believes that the majority used the wrong legal standard in deciding that the magistrates’ testimony was not “outcome determinative” in the trial.
“This court rejected ‘outcome determinative’ as the test for plain error a long time ago. The correct standard is that when a criminal defendant raises an error for the first time on appeal, that person must ‘demonstrate a reasonable probability that the error resulted in prejudice — the same deferential standard for reviewing ineffective assistance of counsel claims,’” Justice O’Neill wrote, quoting a 2015 Ohio Supreme Court case that references a 2004 U.S. Supreme Court decision.
“Put simply, ‘a reasonable probability that … the result of the proceeding would have been different,’ … is a little more could have than would have,” he reasoned. “And that is why the [U.S.] Supreme Court clarified that a ‘reasonable probability’ is ‘a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome,’ … instead of a probability sufficient to show that the outcome was wrong.”
Justice O’Neill also determined that Spaulding’s lawyers were ineffective because they did not stipulate to or object to court journal entries about Spaulding’s prior drug-trafficking and domestic-violence convictions. To the extent that evidence of the convictions was needed to prove other charges, Justice O’Neill concluded that the trial court should have severed the attempted- and aggravated-murder offenses from the remaining charges. To ensure a “‘fair trial and substantial justice,’” he would vacate Spaulding’s convictions and sentence and return the case to the trial court for separate trials.
Barberton police making an arrest for the hit-skip death of 27-year old Scott Hollifield.
38-year old Carl Sapper of Barberton is charged with felonies related to the hit-skip, but more charges could be added. Hollified was hit at Van Buren and Lincoln November 30th; he suffered massive head injuries and died a week later.
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(Barberton PD) On November 25th, 2016, Scott Hollifield was struck by a vehicle as he was walking on North Van Buren Avenue at Lincoln Avenue. Hollifield later died from the injuries that he sustained from being hit. The vehicle that struck him did not stop after the accident and fled the scene.
The investigation by Barberton Police Department Detectives has resulted in the arrest of Carl E. Sapper, age 38 of E. Cassell Avenue in Barberton for the hit skip accident that resulted in the death of Scott Hollifield.
Carl Sapper has been charged with a Third Degree Felony for failing to stop after an accident (hit-skip). Sapper will be arraigned in the Barberton Municipal Court on 12-15-16.
The investigation has been aided by members of the Summit Metro Crash Team and the Ohio Highway State Patrol. Barberton Police Department Detectives are continuing their investigation.
Church should be the last place you'd expect to be ripped off, but for a 79 year old woman her visit to be closer to God left her a victim.
Deputies say the woman was in line, waiting for Communion at the Queen of Heaven Church in Green during a morning service last Thursday, and left her purse in the pew. When she came back it was gone.
Security cameras caught a white male described as balding, wearing a blue shirt and coat as a suspect; the same video also provided a fuzzy photos of a white female with "large build", brown hair wearing a plaid shirt and blue coat believed to be an accomplice.
Both fled in a Kia Optima and went to a nearby Acme and Dollar General and used the victim's credit cards to make more than a thousand dollars in purchases.
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(Summit County Sheriff) On December 8, 2016, the Summit County Sheriff's Office responded to the Queen of Heaven Church in the City of Green in regards to an alleged theft. At approximately 8:30 a.m., two suspects stole a woman's purse while she was in line for Communion.
The victim, a 79 year old female, had left her purse unattended in the pew. The theft was captured on surveillance cameras. The first suspect is described as a white male, bald, medium build, with facial hair, wearing a blue shirt and a blue coat. The second suspect is described as a white female, large build, long brown hair, wearing a plaid shirt and a blue coat.
The suspects fled in a black vehicle believed to be a late model Kia Optima. The suspects went to a local Acme and Dollar General and utilized the victim's credit cards to make over $1,000 in purchases. The victim's cell phone was recovered a short time later by authorities.