Panel's role in Cleveland police ruling questioned
CLEVELAND (AP) - A lawyer for families of men killed in separate 2012 shootings by Cleveland police - including a 137-bullet chase under federal investigation - questions a grand jury's role in a county prosecutor's ruling this week.
Cuyahoga (ky-uh-HOH'-guh) County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty announced Thursday that Cleveland Patrolman Roger Jones acted lawfully when he fatally shot 20-year-old Kenneth Smith, of Euclid, in March 2012. McGinty said Jones acted reasonably and "heroically."
Attorney Terry Gilbert represents Smith's family in a civil wrongful-death lawsuit against Jones and the city. He tells The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer a grand jury didn't hear from key witnesses, including Jones, and it's unclear the panel received charges from McGinty to vote on.
McGinty's spokesman says the grand jury process is secret by law and can't be discussed.
Mom faces trial in McDonald's play area overdose
CINCINNATI (AP) - A woman police say overdosed on heroin with her boyfriend at a McDonald's play area near Cincinnati is facing trial.
Thirty-three-year-old Tamica Jeffers was scheduled Monday for a non-jury trial in Hamilton County. She is charged with two misdemeanor counts of child endangering.
Emergency crews responded to a March 9 call about two unresponsive adults in the fast-food restaurant's indoor play area. They needed emergency treatment to recover from what police called "life-threatening overdoses." Authorities said the Dillsboro, Ind., couple acknowledged using heroin while with two children, a 5-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy.
Jeffers' attorney didn't respond immediately to a message for comment.
Last week, a judge sentenced 37-year-old Robert Palmer to six months in jail in the case, after his conviction on two misdemeanor counts after a nonjury trial.
FISHING BOAT SEARCH
Search for 2 missing Lake Erie boaters continues
PORT CLINTON, Ohio (AP) - A state agency continues to search western Lake Erie for two boaters who disappeared days ago with two others whose bodies have been recovered.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says two boats with the department's watercraft division were searching Sunday for the missing men, who are presumed dead. Authorities don't think they could have survived days in frigid waters.
The state's search was delayed a day due to high winds and waves Saturday. Coast Guard and sheriff's office search efforts are concluded.
Searchers found a partially submerged boat Thursday on a reef near the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant east of Toledo.
They later spotted the bodies of two females wearing life jackets, later identified as 33-year-old Amy Santus of Perrysburg and 16-year-old Paige Widmer of Leesville, South Carolina.
Boy, 5, critical after being pulled from Ohio pond
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A 5-year-old boy is in critical condition after being pulled from a pond in Columbus.
Police Sgt. Chris Odom tells The Columbus Dispatch that family members found the boy floating in a pond behind some houses on the city's far east side around 5 p.m. Sunday. He says the child had been visiting someone and family members began looking for him after realizing he was not there.
The boy is being treated at a hospital. His name has not been released.
Memorial for 11 serial-killing victims needs $250K
CLEVELAND (AP) - Construction of a memorial at the Cleveland site where the remains of 11 women were found in a serial killer's home has been delayed because its funding is short by $250,000.
WOIO-TV in Cleveland reports that construction at Anthony Sowell's (SOH'-wehlz) former property won't start as planned on Mother's Day.
Public and private funding would be used for the memorial at the site where Sowell's house once stood. The Mount Pleasant Ministerial Alliance has been working to create a memorial garden.
Sowell was found guilty in 2011 and sentenced to death. Many of his victims were drug addicts who were never reported missing.
Cost estimates for the project had initially ranged from $175,000 to $480,000. Proposed designs included a playground, stone walkways and a reflective pool.
Ohio fire, police running in memory of 2 killed
SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) - Firefighters and police officers from northern Ohio are planning to run in Toledo's Glass City Marathon on Sunday in memory of two Toledo firefighters killed earlier this year.
At least one of the firefighters plans to run the entire marathon in his gear, adding an extra 40 pounds. Perkins Township firefighter Brian Hackenburg worked with James Dickman near Sandusky for 10 years before Dickman joined the Toledo fire department.
Hackenburg tells the Sandusky Register that other firefighters and police officers from the Sandusky area plan on taking part in the half-marathon.
Dickman and Stephen Machcinski were killed in an apartment building fire near downtown Toledo in late January. The owner of that building was charged with starting the fire and is awaiting trial.
Communities rally to fight back against heroin
HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) - Some communities are trying to fight back against the scourge of heroin, with rallies, town halls, and social media.
In southwest Ohio's Butler County, heroin deaths are increasing at stunning rates and communities have turned to a task force, town halls, and poster-waving rallies. Some activists are using a northern Kentucky group that formed two years ago as a model.
One activist leader in Butler County says heroin is "a 360-degree problem" that is impacting everyone.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says authorities can't arrest their way out of the problem, and that grassroots and community help is needed.
In St. Louis, authorities say they are seeing signs of progress after three years of educational campaigns. One official says such efforts can save lives.
Fracking foes cringe as unions back drilling boom
PITTSBURGH (AP) - After early complaints that out-of-state firms got the most jobs, some local construction workers and union members in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia say they're now benefiting in a big way from the Marcellus and Utica Shale fracking boom.
That vocal support from blue-collar workers complicates efforts by environmentalists to limit drilling.
The Laborers' International Union, or LIUNA, says that construction work its members do on large pipeline jobs in Pennsylvania and West Virginia increased significantly over the last five years. In 2008, LIUNA members worked about 400,000 hours on such jobs. By 2012, it had risen to 5.7 million hours.
The group Penn Environment says there should be more investments in wind and solar power to give workers those kinds of jobs.
Ohio legislator wants stronger timber theft law
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (AP) - An Ohio lawmaker is pushing legislation to boost prosecution of timber theft in a move that has the state forestry association worried about overregulation.
The proposal by state Rep. Ross McGregor would require a written agreement between landowners and the timber harvester that specifically shows which trees should be cut down.
The Dayton Daily News reports that a bill introduced by McGregor, a Springfield Republican, also requires a written record of timber harvested from the landowner.
McGregor says the current law is loose and makes it difficult for prosecutors to go after thieves even when a crime has occurred. He says illegal timber harvesters are likely selling it to timber mills.
The Ohio Forestry Association calls the legislation "heavy-handed" and says it would cause difficulties for its 500 members.
Invasive carp's DNA found in eastern Ohio river
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Bighead carp DNA has been discovered in eastern Ohio's Muskingum River, raising concerns the invasive fish might have found a new route to Lake Erie.
A report released Friday indicated the genetic material was found in 10 of 222 water samples taken from the river last fall, various news outlets reported.
Researchers found the DNA 80 miles upstream of the river's mouth at Marietta, along the Ohio River. No fish have been found.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to conduct additional tests in the Muskingum River in June.
Invasive carp pose a threat to local ecosystems and to Lake Erie's $1 billion-a-year fishing industry and $10 billion-a-year tourism industry.
Authorities worry that fish living in rivers could reach the lake, especially during flooding.
Pivotal Game 3 awaits with Pens, CBJ tied at 1-1
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - After an injury-filled regular season, about the last thing the Pittsburgh Penguins needed or expected was a major struggle early in the playoffs.
Yet that is exactly what they're getting from the upstart Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Blue Jackets, a cellar-dweller for many of their first 12 seasons, shocked the mighty Penguins 4-3 in two overtimes on Saturday night to tie their first-round Stanley Cup series at a game apiece. Now the Penguins, under fire from media and fans in their hometown due to their own recent failures in the postseason, must find a way to turn things around on Monday night in Game 3.
A rollicking capacity crowd will be lying in wait in Columbus for only the third home playoff game in Blue Jackets history.
Lerner raises doubts about future at Villa
BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) - American businessman Randy Lerner has raised doubts about his future as Aston Villa chairman by saying he will address "steady rumors of a sale" of the Premier League club at the end of the season.
Villa released a statement on Sunday, in which Lerner said he was "committed to the immediate job of limiting distraction and confusion" as the club looks to secure its Premier League status.
Villa is 15th in the 20-team league, five points above the relegation zone with four matches left.
Lerner, who used to own the NFL's Cleveland Browns, bought Villa in 2006.
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