Wednesday, April 05, 2000

Tristate News Summary

Tougher gun storage bill proposed
        COLUMBUS — Gov. Bob Taft hopes a retooled gun storage bill contains enough changes to satisfy its critics, but a member of the House Criminal Justice Committee said he objects to the bill's definition of what constitutes a “loaded weapon.”

        Sponsoring Rep. Ann Womer Benjamin, an Aurora Republican and the committee's chairwoman, made the changes after meeting with opponents of the bill and with Mr. Taft.

        The bill adds penalties under child endangerment laws, instead of creating new offenses. Opponents had argued that the previous version of the bill singled out gun owners.

        The bill also has tougher penalties than the original bill. If a child gets access to an improperly stored firearm, it would be a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail, up from a third-degree misdemeanor, which has a maximum penalty of 60 days.

Prosecutors finishing Sheppard presentation
        CLEVELAND — With a case built on a new expert and old witnesses, prosecutors are about to wind up their effort to prove something they first tried to show 46 years ago: that Dr. Sam Sheppard beat his wife to death in a fit of rage.

        Cuyahoga County Prosecutor William Mason and his assistants are defending the state in a wrongful imprisonment lawsuit brought by the doctor's son, Sam Reese Sheppard, through his father's estate.

        Prosecutors could rest their case this week. Closing arguments are expected next week.

        Then an eight-person jury will decide whether it thinks Dr. Sheppard was innocent, finally laying to rest the sensational case that helped inspire The Fugitive TV series.

        For the past month, “the state has been trying to show that Dr. Sam's account of that day doesn't make sense — not by looking at the physical evidence but by applying common sense,” said James Neff, author of a forthcoming book on the Sheppard case called Chasing the Fugitive.

Dayton schools face bus driver problems
        DAYTON — The city's school district is taking a get-tough approach with its bus drivers.

        The district says it won't tolerate lapses by drivers, three of whom the district said left pupils on buses after routes were finished. The school board at its April 14 meeting plans to consider firing them.

        A fourth driver quit last month after the district said it would recommend his firing for bypassing a railroad barricade and driving his bus across tracks with children aboard, the school system reported.

        Since the school year began, the district's transportation department has been under fire from parents who had complained that buses routinely run late or fail to pick up children.

        Clayton Luckie, a Dayton school board member, said the seriousness of the incidents has to be considered.

Fire damages mail in Lebanon mailbox
        LEBANON — About 100 pieces of mail were damaged — much of it beyond recognition — in a fire Saturday in a U.S. Postal Service mailbox.

        Arson is suspected in the fire, reported to the Postal Service at about 1:10 p.m. Saturday, said Bonni Manies, spokeswoman for the Postal Service's Cincinnati district. It's the first intentional mailbox fire in her six years with the district, Ms. Manies said.

        “People put in bottles and cans and kittens and snakes — whether it's for fun or meanness, they use them for receptacles a lot,” she said.

        The post office is contacting those whose mail can be identified, but anyone who deposited mail in the box at 6 Cincinnati Ave., behind Certified Gas Station, between 4:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday afternoon should contact the Lebanon Post Office at 932-4910.

Museum will honor nuclear achievements
        MIAMISBURG — A museum to honor the achievements of scientists at the Mound nuclear weapons plant is in the works, an organizer said Tuesday.

        The museum will feature displays and interactive exhibits on the development of nuclear bomb-making materials and engines for space probes.

        Organizers are negotiating with the U.S. Department of Energy to display models of devices produced at Mound and are trying to get documents declassified so they can be kept in the museum archives.

        The Mound plant, which is owned by the Energy Department, was built in 1949 to make triggers for nuclear weapons. More than 2,000 workers were employed there at its peak.

        Organizers hope to open the museum at Mound within a year.

OKI to present regional bike plan
        LEBANON — The Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Council of Government will hold a public meeting today on its regional bicycle plan.

        The plan, created about eight years ago, is being updated to reflect bike trails that have been built and improvements that might be sought or in the works.

        The Lebanon meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Old Courthouse, 300 E. Silver St. A meeting also will be held in Northern Kentucky on Monday, at 2332 Royal Drive, Fort Mitchell.

        For more information, call OKI senior planner Ann Gordon at 621-6300 or visit OKI's Web site at

Teen gets 30 years to life for killings
        COLUMBUS — A 16-year-old was sentenced Tuesday to 30 years to life in prison for killing his pregnant girlfriend.

        Sean Steele will serve two consecutive prison terms of 15 years to life — one for the murder of 15-year-old Barbara Watkins and one for the murder of her unborn child. The sentence issued by Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Patrick McGrath makes Mr. Steele ineligible for parole until he has served at least 30 years.

        “We asked the judge for consecutive terms because otherwise there would be no penalty for the murder of the fetus,” Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said.

        Mr. Steel was tried for the murder of the fetus under a 1996 Ohio law that allows prosecutors to seek homicide charges if a defendant causes the termination of a viable pregnancy.

Montgomery leaves fund-raising group
        COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery said she has dropped out of a Republican fund-raising group of attorneys general because of time consumed sorting out ethical issues.

        The Republican Attorneys General Association has raised contributions from companies that have been defendants in state legal actions, such as Microsoft Corp.

        Also, SBC Communications, which last year acquired Ameritech, gave $35,000, the Columbus Dispatch reported Tuesday. The combined company controls one-third of the nation's local phone lines spread across 13 states, including Ohio.

        “There is nothing illegal or immoral about fund raising to elect attorneys general, but I was elected in Ohio and have a lot of obligations here,” Ms. Montgomery said. “I raised some questions about who we were raising money from. It wasn't worth trying to sort out what the ethical land mines are.”


Area wins big in capital plan
Markets rebound from rout
Valuable violin goes to auction
DNA helps find African roots
Many Ohioans find e-returns less taxing
Faux fax fails to free Ohio strangler
Her dying words accuses husband
Court upholds ruling in Culberson case
Getting Son of Beast ready to roll
Stories, razzing and affection are a lunchtime ritual for father and sons
Video guru gets jump on HDTV with 'Water's Edge'
A Journey of faith
CFT sues charter schools
Child support system changing
Angela Cook earns respect of all
Driver jailed and fired
Ex-board member: Charter school regulations lax
Four schools sued by teachers union
Guardsmen come home today
Health issues event focuses on minorities
Lawyer's ouster sought in transracial-adoption case
Loveland group pushing to save park
Math course moves along step by step
Miami groups build dreams
Miami University job fair popular among employers
Middletown board debate boils over
Pete Rose's mother dies
Plan to move Fenwick forums' focus
Planning office expected to return
Rogers won't appeal testing requirement
Tenant charged in death of woman
- Tristate News Summary
Warren schools lose administrator
Queen City's moments to shine reflected in book