HEADLINE NEWS FOR FRIDAY, JULY 22, 2016
9:05 AM - July 22nd, 2016
LYONS TO FACE TRIAL FOR THIRD TIME
NEW PHILADELPHIA - A Parral landlord will be tried in court a third time for fatally shooting a tenant during a scuffle in his apartment in February of 2015. The third trial for 58-year-old Bill Lyons is scheduled to begin October 4, following two mistrials this year on the involuntary manslaughter charge when jurors were unable to reach a verdict. Lyons claims the shooting of 44-year-old Bill Lax was self-defense. Assistant Tuscarawas County Prosecutor Mike Ernest says jurors this time could be asked to consider a lesser included charge. Ernest says it is worth taking the case to trial a third time because the case involves the loss of life and deserves better than an inconclusive result.
CONVICTED ARSONIST SENTENCED
DOVER – A Dover woman is avoiding prison time for a series of arson fires to sheds and garages in her Tuscarawas Ave. neighborhood near the high school late last year. Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court Judge Edward O’Farrell sentenced 23-year-old Allison Ferrell to two years' probation, with a two-year prison sentence reserved for any violations, after she plead guilty to aggravated arson and arson charges last month. Tuscarawas County Assistant Prosecutor Scott Deedrick says O'Farrell took Ferrell’s mental health history into consideration while determining the sentence, which agitates some victims. Deedrick says Ferrell was also ordered to pay back restitution of about $90,000 for the out of pocket cost to victims, which she will unlikely be able to pay back, though the five victims can attempt to recover their losses through the courts. Deedrick says the actual cost of the fires topped hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ferrell must also register her address as a convicted arsonist annually and is supposed to keep 1,000 feet away from the victims at all times, even though some are her neighbors.
ISAACS PLEADS NOT GUILTY TO MURDER
NEW PHILADELPHIA - A teenage murder suspect has made his first appearance in Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court since being indicted last week on adult charges. 17-year-old David Isaacs pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder, evidence tampering, and other charges for the March 17 fatal stabbing of his father’s girlfriend, 39-year-old Darlene Renner. Meanwhile, Judge Edward O’Farrell also heard arguments and will soon decide whether juvenile or common pleas court has the authority to set bail. For now, Isaacs is being held in the Juvenile Attention Center on $250,000 bond, and his trial must begin by mid-September. Earlier this week, Juvenile Court Judge Linda Kate rejected a request by defense attorney Nicole Stephan to place Isaacs in the custody of his mother with electronic monitoring. Kate says there is overwhelming evidence against Isaacs as well as reports he planned an escape and attacked another inmate during a basketball game since entering the attention center in March.
SECOND SUSPECT SENTENCED
NEW PHILADELPHIA - A New Philadelphia kidnapping case is over after the second suspect was sentenced. 28-year-old Zenia Randle of Dover was ordered to spend four years in prison Wednesday in Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court. Her accomplice, 34-year-old Shauntae Metcalf of New Philadelphia, is already serving three years for the November crime. They are both charged with kidnapping, but Randle has an additional count of abduction, and Metcalf was also convicted with evidence tampering. Police say the two women forced a New Philadelphia woman into a car at gunpoint and held her overnight until she escaped.
STATE ROUTE REOPENED AFTER FIERY CRASH
SUGARCREEK - State Route 93 south of Sugarcreek is now open after a tanker erupted in flames in a crash. The pavement needed repairs as the road was damaged from the fire. Authorities say an SUV collided with the tanker Wednesday afternoon. The SUV driver and a child were taken to area hospitals. The truck driver was not injured. It took five area fire departments to put out the flames.
LOCAL REPUBLICANS REFLECT ON WEEK IN CLEVELAND
CLEVELAND - Tuscarawas County republicans say they are ready to get on the local campaign trail after spending the week in Cleveland for the national convention. County GOP Party Chair Doug Wills says he enjoyed supporting now presidential nominee Donald Trump, but is anxious to begin helping Tuscarawas County candidates prepare for November. Wills says he estimates more than 300 people, including state and federal office holders, visited the double decker party boat he had docked at the marina near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He says they will disassemble the boat and take it back to Tappan Lake on the highway Monday.
POLITICIANS PROCESS INFO FROM RNC
CLEVELAND - The elected officials who represent Tuscarawas County at the state level are getting the most out of their time at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this week. State Rep. Al Landis told WJER his schedule has involved attending events featuring former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and others as well as a reception with coal miners where he discussed energy. State Sen. Jay Hottinger says he is enjoying the additional freedom because he is not a delegate this year. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted says it has been a learning experience for him as he engages the public to talk about their political feelings. All three spoke with WJER’s Jamie Hambach, and today WJER’s Shyanne Carroll will continue our reporting from Cleveland as the four-day event comes to a close.
LOCALS HAVE POSITIVE VIEW AT RNC
CLEVELAND - Area residents in Cleveland for the Republican National Convention say they are impressed so far. Mike Borojevich of Tappan Lake says he is enjoying the social events while also supporting Donald Trump for president. He says he switched to the Republican party from voting as an Independent to back Trump’s campaign. Borojevich says he also likes Trump’s choice for a vice presidential candidate in Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to offer a more conservative, faith-based component. A handful of local law enforcement are also working security for the city, including State Trooper Travis Adkins from the New Philadelphia post. He says he took part in months of training and is also enjoying his temporary duty.
FEDERAL OFFICE HOLDERS WEIGH IN ON CONVENTION
CLEVELAND - Tuscarawas County’s congressmen say they are optimistic Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump can unite the party and the country. 6th District Congressman Bill Johnson tells WJER he wants to have an effective and efficient government while also supporting traditional values. Johnson says he is spending this week at the convention meeting with other lawmakers and talking with visitors from across the country. 7th District Congressman Bob Gibbs says in an interview with WJER he is also busy hosting and attending meetings in Cleveland. Gibbs says he is encouraged by Trump’s Supreme Court nominees and his selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine tells WJER he has heard all positive reviews from those attending the event both inside Quicken Loans Arena and from spectators outside. Ohio’s Republican US Senator Rob Portman says he is spending the week supporting causes like Habitat for Humanity and Wounded Warriors, but he says he is also visiting with delegates on the convention floor and talking with WJER reporters. Gov. John Kasich has been avoiding the main event and appearing at various receptions, including his own at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Tuesday. Kasich says he stands behind his decision declining to endorse Trump, even though he signed a pledge to do so.
OHIO DELEGATE PLEDGES TO TRUMP
CLEVELAND - Ohio’s delegates at the Republican National Convention are coming around to backing Donald Trump. All 66 delegates during the primary went to John Kasich who then dropped out of the race. Stark County Commissioner Janet Creighton says she understands Trump supporters who are frustrated with establishment candidates. This is Creighton’s fifth presidential convention as a delegate, and she says she is committed to the party. Trump and Indian Gov. Mike Pence were officially nominated for the Republican presidential ticket by state roll call Tuesday.
LOCAL REPUBLICANS ARRIVE FOR CONVENTION
CLEVELAND - Tuscarawas County Republicans are enjoying the party in downtown Cleveland this week as the Republican National Convention gets underway. County Party Chair Doug Wills and his wife, Barb, are aboard a two-story pontoon boat, owned by its captain Mike Borojevich of Tappan Lake, which is docked outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Wills says he will also host Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and a number of other dignitaries during several events, but he says getting there was a challenege. At one point he was in highway traffic along I-90 measuring bridges to make sure the boat would fit through the overpass. Barb Wills says they love boating as well as the city and politics, so she is thrilled to combine all three thanks to a group of supporters. WJER News will have more local stories from Cleveland throughout the week, including special afternoon reports.
TOURISM DIRECTOR MARKS 30 YEARS
NEW PHILADELPHIA - A Tuscarawas County tourism official is marking a milestone. Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Dee Grossman has held her position for 30 years. Grossman says she never planned to stay this long, but her passion for local stories has only intensified over the years. Grossman says the attractions in Tuscarawas County have also evolved, and many have become interactive with guests. Grossman says she is too young to retire and looks forward to making more discoveries. A reception to honor her 30th anniversary on the job was held at the Strasburg Ramada Inn Wednesday.
COUNCIL APPROPRIATES MORE MONEY FOR BOAT RAMP
DOVER - Officials say construction on the proposed boat ramp at the Tuscarawas River is still scheduled to get underway this year. Service Director Dave Douglas says council appropriated $100,000 more towards the project Monday as the original bid came in over $70,000 beyond the engineer’s 2015 estimate. Douglas says the project mirrors the Tuscarawas boat ramp, but he says river conditions make this one a little more expensive as they have to build a coffer dam to do the work. Douglas says time is of the essence as money from the Clean Ohio Fund is good for only another few months. The project cost has risen to $356,000, with the latest money from council being diverted from the new city hall fund. Mayor Rick Homrighausen says the money from the city hall fund will be replaced in next year’s budget.
DETECTIVES DISCOVER DRUGS IN MAIL
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Detectives say they got lucky stopping a large marijuana delivery. Captain Shawn Nelson says local postal officials discovered a damaged box Monday that turned out to have more than seven pounds of pot inside. Nelson says they tracked down the address because the names on the package were fake and followed the suspect to the post office where he was arrested. Nelson says it was obvious to him what was inside, but the New Philadelphia K-9 unit verified his suspicions. Nelson says the suspect, 49-year-old Leonard “Keith” Wirth of New Philadelphia, eventually confessed the package was for him. Wirth was released awaiting drug charges from the grand jury, but he was issued a warning for expired license plates.