Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Appeals Judge Winkler to sit with high court

Public safety briefs

The Enquirer

An Appeals Court judge from Hamilton County will be in Columbus today serving as a visiting judge on the Ohio Supreme Court in a high-profile disciplinary case against a Franklin County judge.

Judge Ralph Winkler of the Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals will sit in place of Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton. He and the other six Supreme Court justices will hear arguments in the case of Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Deborah P. O'Neill.

The Supreme Court's Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline has recommended a two-year suspension of O'Neill's law license for improper and unprofessional conduct in her dealings with attorneys, defendants, litigants and court staff.

Stratton, who formerly served as a judge in the same court as O'Neill, recused herself from the case.

East Price Hill man admits abusing corpse

HAMILTON - Just after a jury convicted one of his accomplices, an East Price Hill man pleaded guilty Monday to tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse in a Butler County dismemberment case.

Anthony C. Ruffin, 44, is scheduled for sentencing Oct. 4 in Common Pleas Court following his plea to the charges. A co-defendant, Gary Benson, 50, of Hamilton, was convicted Friday of the same charges and is set for sentencing Oct. 18.

Both men face up to six years in prison for the mutilation of Jeffrey Glenn Watson, 41, of Hamilton. Watson's charred torso was found New Year's Eve along a rural road near the Preble County line.

Authorities accused Benson and Ruffin of helping Cardale A. Goens, 37, of Hamilton, dismember Watson. Authorities allege the dismemberment happened after Goens shot Watson to death in Watson's S. 11th Street home.

Hearing postponed on suspect in shooting

HAMILTON - A court hearing on psychiatrists' requests to force-medicate a Butler County homicide suspect has been postponed.

Lawyers for Tom West, 51, a drifter accused of six charges in a shooting that killed two people and injured three others at a West Chester trucking company, asked Judge Keith Spaeth for a delay.

West is to undergo a neurological examination on Thursday, and results of that examination are expected to be relevant to the debate over whether psychiatrists can administer drugs to West against his will. Spaeth rescheduled the hearing for next Monday in Common Pleas Court.

In June, Spaeth had found Tom West, also known as Joseph John Eschenbrenner III, was mentally ill and incompetent to stand trial. If West cannot be restored to competency within a year, laws may prohibit him from ever facing trial in the Nov. 6 shooting that killed two people and injured three others at Watkins Motor Lines Inc.

Colerain Twp. driver indicted in two deaths

COLERAIN TWP. - A woman behind the wheel of an SUV when it hit a couple on a motorcycle Aug. 7 on Harrison Avenue was indicted Monday on charges of aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular assault and child endangering.

Jennifer Weir, 28, of Colerain Township, could face more than 20 years in prison.

Authorities said she crossed over the center lane into traffic traveling the opposite direction and hit a motorcycle carrying James Bishop Jr. and his wife, Virginia, both 54 and also of Colerain Township. Mrs. Bishop died that night, and her husband died Sunday.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen said Weir was coming from Stricker's Grove, where she had four or five beers. She had four children, ages 4-11, in the vehicle.

Deputies looking into stabbing at house

SYCAMORE TOWNSHIP - Hamilton County sheriff's deputies are investigating a domestic incident late Sunday that left a 36-year-old local man stabbed.

Michael Creech was in serious condition at Bethesda North Hospital after suffering a stab wound in the center of his chest. Sheriff's deputies were called to the 7000 block of East Kemper Road shortly before 10 p.m. for a reported stabbing. Creech lives at the address.

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