Friday, 16 December 2016 05:15

Akron Death Sentence Upheld

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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.

magistrate approved Singleton’s request for a civil protective order against Spaulding in August 2011, but it was dismissed when she did not appear at the final hearing.

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.

Thursday, 15 December 2016 09:16

Barberton PD Makes Hit-Skip Arrest

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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.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016 10:05

Deputies Seek Church Thieves

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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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ChurchThief woman(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.  

Tuesday, 13 December 2016 09:24

SUPCO Denies Cepec Death Appeal

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A Medina County man serving time on Ohio's Death Row lost in his bid to have his conviction overturned.
Steven Cepec appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court his conviction in the 2010 murder of Frank Munz, turning aside all of his claims. All but one justice joined with Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor in the opinion, but Justice William O'Neill dissented on the death penalty sentence. O'Neill has been a vocal opponent of capital punishment.
Cepec was convicted of using a hammer to bludgeon and a lamp cord to strangle Munz to death on property where Cepec was staying in a recreational vehicle after he was released from prison on an earlier offense. The trial court denied Cepec's bid to have damaging statements he'd made to police excluded from the trial. The jury found him not guilty of planning the murder, but he was found guilty of murder in the commission of a robbery as well as kidnapping and burglary.
When Cepec was first sentenced, an execution date of June 2014 was established but that execution warrant remains on hold pending appeals.
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(CourtNews/Ohio Supreme Court) The convictions and death sentence of a former inmate who fled from a halfway house and killed a Medina County man were affirmed today by the Ohio Supreme Court.
In an opinion written by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, the Court rejected all the legal claims made by Steven E. Cepec, who was convicted for the June 2010 murder of Frank Munz, a man living near the property where Cepec was staying. Police captured Cepec after responding to a 911 call from Munz’ nephew, who was in the house at the time of the murder.
Justice William M. O’Neill voted to uphold Cepec’s convictions but dissented from the imposition of the death penalty.
Cepec Stops Periodically at Munz Home to Use Phone
After violating his parole for an earlier offense, Cepec was sent in May 2010 to a halfway house to complete a drug treatment program. On the day he was admitted to the program, he left to go to the hospital but never returned to the halfway house.
Cepec and his girlfriend moved from place to place during the following days, sometimes staying in a recreational vehicle parked in a Medina County barn owned by his girlfriend’s father. Cepec had visited the Munz house several times to use the phone.
On the afternoon of June 3, Frank Munz’s nephew, Paul, was at home and heard his uncle and Cepec talking. Paul then heard “two loud thumps,” his uncle shouting, someone choking, silence, and panting. After locking himself in a bedroom, Paul heard footsteps around the house, the sounds of a faucet running, and tin cans full of change being emptied. He called 911 when someone tried to open his door.
Officers from the Medina County Sheriff’s Office responded to a burglary in progress at the Munz house. A deputy saw Cepec in the garage and ordered him to the ground, but Cepec instead ran into the woods. Officers discovered him hiding in brush and arrested him.
Back at the house, police found Frank Munz lying on the kitchen floor. He died from blunt impact to his head, trunk, and extremities inflicted with a claw hammer and from strangulation with a lamp electrical cord. Paul was still in the locked bedroom.
Jury Finds Cepec Guilty of Nearly All Charges
Cepec pleaded not guilty to multiple charges. In a hearing, he asked the trial court to exclude certain statements he had made to the police, but the court denied his motion and the statements were admitted during trial.
A jury found Cepec not guilty of aggravated murder with prior calculation and design, but guilty of aggravated murder in the course of aggravated robbery, kidnapping, and aggravated burglary, along with other charges and specifications. The jury recommended a death sentence, and the trial court agreed. The court imposed the death penalty for the aggravated murder conviction plus 10 years for the aggravated-burglary conviction and a repeat-violent-offender specification.
Cepec filed an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court, which hears all death-penalty cases.
Cepec Raises Seven Issues, Including Request for Attorney During Police Interview
The Court reviewed seven claims from Cepec alleging legal and procedural errors from the time of his arrest through sentencing.
In one claim, Cepec stated that he asked for, and was denied, a lawyer during police questioning and that his statements made in that interview should have been suppressed at trial. To explain the blood on his pants and shoes, Cepec told the officers during the interview that he discovered Frank lying on the kitchen floor when he went into the house to make a phone call. He denied any involvement in Frank’s murder and suggested the officers test his hands as proof. One detective asked another to get a special light and chemical to check Cepec’s hands for blood. Cepec asked, “Well, before you use it, can I have a lawyer here?” A detective responded that he didn’t think a lawyer was needed for that. Cepec continued to speak to the detectives and deny that he had been involved in Frank’s murder.
The detectives never conducted the chemical test, and one detective later testified that the reference to the test was only an interview technique and that they would not have done the test because it was toxic to humans.
Chief Justice O’Connor noted that Cepec had been read his Miranda rights before the interview, he had not asked for counsel before then, and he asked for a lawyer only in the context of the discussion about the chemical test, which was never administered. His question was not a general request for a lawyer, the Court concluded, stating that Cepec “did not unequivocally invoke his right to counsel for all purposes of the interview.”
The Court also rejected Cepec’s assertions that his lawyers were ineffective, that the trial court should have held a hearing about Paul Munz’s competency, that the trial judge was biased against him, that parts of the prosecutor’s closing arguments and rebuttal amounted to misconduct, and that the death penalty is unconstitutional.
Court Conducts Independent Evaluation of Death Sentence
As required by statute, the Court then independently reviewed the imposition of the death penalty for appropriateness and proportionality. Chief Justice O’Connor concluded that the evidence supported the jury’s finding of guilt on the aggravating circumstances that Cepec committed aggravated murder while committing aggravated robbery, while committing aggravated burglary, and after breaking detention by fleeing the drug treatment program.
The Court evaluated mitigating factors, such as Cepec’s family history, behavioral disorders as a child, mental-health issues as an adult, and substance-abuse problems. Noting that Cepec’s conduct on the day of the murder confirmed that he knew his actions were criminal, the Court determined the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating factors beyond a reasonable doubt.
In the last step of the independent evaluation, the Court stated that the death penalty in this case was proportionate to other aggravated-murder cases with similar circumstances and affirmed Cepec’s convictions and death sentence.
Justices Paul E. Pfeifer, Terrence O’Donnell, Judith Ann Lanzinger, Sharon L. Kennedy, and Judith L. French joined the chief justice’s opinion.
Justice O’Neill joined the Court in affirming Cepec’s convictions, but dissented from imposing a sentence of death based on his dissent in State v. Wogenstahl (2013). In Wogenstahl, he concluded that the death penalty violates the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
Tuesday, 13 December 2016 09:09

ME: Unarmed Alameri Shot 5 Times

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The 26 year old Case Western Reserve University student shot and killed in what is described as a struggle with a Hudson police officer was hit at least five times by bullets.

The Summit County Medical Examiner says autopsy results do not include toxicology tests at this time, but Saif Mubarak Alameri of the United Arab Emirates was shot once in the head, once in the face and three times in the left leg during the incident with police Officer Ryan Doran, a 12-year veteran of the Hudson Police Department. Dashcam video from that day has audio of six shots fired.

Alameri had flipped his vehicle on the nearby Ohio Turnpike then fled the scene on foot; witnesses say he had been "running wildly" when he went into a wooded area along Hudson-Aurora Rd. when Doran found him. In the dashcam video, a dog can also be heard inside the vehicle reacting to the sound of shots fired. 

Alameri was not armed, investigators from Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Investigation report. Doran remains on paid leave.

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(Summit County Medical Examiner) This is a update concerning the death of Saif Mubarak Alameri who was shot during a struggle with a Hudson Police Officer. The autopsy examination revealed a total of 5 definite gunshot wounds. One to the head, one to the face and three to the left leg. Toxicology testing is not completed at this time. There is no other information to release at this time

Monday, 12 December 2016 11:30

Underground Vault Fire Leads To Downtown Outage

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A fire in an electrical vault underneat the Everett Building located at 39 E. Market Street in downtown Akron lead to about 220 FirstEnergy customers sitting without power for about an hour Monday morning. 

According to Akron Fire Department, the fire started just before 7:30 Monday morning. As Akron Fire crews responded, FirstEnergy was called to the building to shut off power. Due to heavy smoke, Mark Durbin with FirstEnergy says crews could not access the vault to shut off power. They were forced to de-energize the nearest substation, which in turn shut off power to roughly 220 downtown FirstEnergy customers, Durbin says. 

As of 10:30 a.m., power to those most all of those customers had been restored. Durbin said power at the Everett Building and two nearby buildings was still affected at that time. 

Akron Fire was still on the scene as of 11:30 a.m., Monday, and power to the Everett Building had not yet been restored. 

Meanwhile, Akron Municipal Court offices closed their operations for the remainder of the day, Monday, as of 10 a.m. In a press release, Akron Municipal Court advised anyone with scheduled court business call the office on Tuesday for rescheduling instructions. 

Stay with for updates on this story. 

Sunday, 11 December 2016 11:46

Fire Funeral Services Set For Monday

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The four members of a family killed in last weekend's fatal fire on East Tallmadge Avenue will be remembered and laid to rest Monday in a service at Akron's Celebration Church.

Celebration Church is on Dan Street. The church is holding visitation from 4:00 to 7:00 Monday followed by a Celebration of Life from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.

37-year old Omar Riley, 34-year old Shirley Wallis and their two daughters, nine year old Aniyla and eight year old Shanice Riley all perished in the blaze December 3 which started in the back of their rented home.

Akron firefighters couldn't find evidence of any smoke detectors in the home.

A 12-year old daughter of Wallis', Shaniya, is recovering from her burns and injuries at Akron Children's Hospital. Akron firefighters pulled her from the fire and brought her back to life.

Another woman living in the home, Jennifer Grubbs, escaped by getting out of the burning house from a second floor window.

Sunday, 11 December 2016 11:38

Akron Man Dies In Copley Crash

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An Akron man is dead following an early morning crash on South Cleveland Massillon Road in Copley.

The State Highway Patrol reports the one-vehicle wreck happened just north of N. Sunnyfield Drive. 32-year old Darrelle Fisher of Pine Knolls Drive, Akron, was behind the wheel when the vehicle went off-road and hit a utility pole. Fisher was thrown from the vehicle and pronounced dead on the scene.

A passenger, 22-year old Shaquilla Thomas of Akron, was also injured in the accident and taken to Akron General with non-life threatening injuries. Troopers say she was only wearing a lap belt and didn't have the shoulder strap in use.

"Driver impairment" is suspected.

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(OSHP) Copley Township- The Canton Post of the Highway Patrol is investigating a one vehicle fatal crash that occurred on Saturday, December 10, 2016 at 00:29 A.M. on South Cleveland Massillon Road just north of N. Sunnyfield Drive.

Darrelle Fischer, age 32, of 750 Pine Knolls Drive, Akron, Ohio was operating a 2002 Pontiac Montana northbound on South Cleveland Massillon Road. Fischer had a right front passenger who was identified as Shaquilla K. Thomas, age 22, of 746 Baird Street Akron, Ohio. The investigation determined Fischer's Pontiac traveled off the right side of the roadway and struck a utility pole just north of N. Sunnyfield Drive. After impact, Fischer was ejected from the vehicle.

Fischer sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased on scene by the Summit County Coroner's Office. Fischer was subsequently transported to the Summit County Coroner's Office.

Thomas sustained non-life threatening injuries and was transported to Akron General Hospital by Copley Fire Department. Thomas was only wearing a lap belt and wasn't utilizing the shoulder strap provided. The crash currently remains under investigation. Driver impairment is suspected in the crash.

Sunday, 11 December 2016 11:33

Norton PD Officer Suffers Minor Injuries

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A Norton police officer is recovering from minor injuries suffered when the cruiser he was in was hit by another vehicle while on a traffic stop.

Norton Police Chief John Delassandro issued a statement saying the officer was on I-76 westbound near Medina Line Road at 4:00 a.m. Saturday when he was hit by a vehicle driven by a female motorist. Both were injured and transported to local hospitals with non-life threatening injuries. 

The incident remains under investigation.

Friday, 09 December 2016 17:04

Phillips Denied Clemency Recommendation

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The Akron man who's been on death row since 1993 may have just over a month left on earth. 

The Ohio Parole Board today recomended no clemency for Ronald Phillips, who first began serving his sentence 23 years ago after he was convicted of the rape and murder of his then-girlfiend's three year old daughter. 

The crime was horribly brutal; an autopsy found "severe trauma" in the death of Sheila Marie Evans, including damages to her internal organs and more than 120 bruises over her tiny body. Prosecutors said the injureis reflected several hours of a severe beating, then rape, before she died days after she was hospitalized.

The recommendation now moves to Governor John Kasich, who hasn't been receptive to considering Phillips' case in the past. Barring any last-minute court appeals, Phillips will die by lethal injection on January 12, 2017 in the death chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Institution in Lucasville, Ohio.

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(Summit County Prosecutor) Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh announced today that the Ohio Parole Board voted to recommend convicted murderer Ronald Phillips be denied clemency. Phillips' clemency request and the Board's recommendation now go to Ohio Governor John Kasich, who makes the final decision to grant or deny clemency.

In 1993, a Summit County jury found Phillips, then 19, guilty of Aggravated Murder, Felonious Sexual Penetration and three counts of Rape. In January of that year, Phillips brutally assaulted and raped three-year-old Sheila Marie Evans. Evans died as result. Among her injuries were severe trauma to her internal organs and more than 125 bruises to her face, torso, arms, legs and genitalia.

"Phillips brutally beat and assaulted Sheila Marie over several hours. She suffered for days before dying from her injuries. Phillips deserves the ultimate punishment for what he did," said Prosecutor Walsh. "This is the third time the Ohio Parole Board has denied Phillips clemency. My hope is that Governor Kasich follows the Parole Board's recommendation and denies Phillips clemency and gives peace to Sheila's family."

In its recommendation against clemency, the Board cited several reasons, and again called the repeated beating and rape of Sheila Marie Evans "clearly among the worst of the worst capital crimes."

Phillip's execution is scheduled for January 12, 2017.