Thursday, January 11, 2001

Tristate A.M. Report

Ex-teacher pleads guilty in sex case

        A former junior high school teacher admitted Wednesday that he sent pornography and sexually explicit messages via the Internet to some of his female students.

        Johnathan Barber, 29, pleaded guilty to 20 charges related to inappropriate contact he had with seven students, ages 12 to 15. Mr. Barber, a teacher at Princeton Junior High, will serve six months in jail as part of his plea agreement with prosecutors.

        He had faced up to 17 years in prison.

        Prosecutors say Mr. Barber, an English teacher, first corresponded with the girls during online tutoring sessions and then began to discuss sex.

        They say the Finneytown man asked questions about the girls' sexual activity and, in one case, e-mailed a photograph of himself in the nude.

        No longer employed at Princeton, Mr. Barber had found a new teaching job at the W.E.B. DuBois Academy in Cincinnati. He voluntarily left the school after his indictment.

Woman convicted in fatal robbery

        A Walnut Hills woman could be sentenced to life in prison after a jury convicted her Wednesday of luring a man into a fatal robbery.

        Sonya McKibbon, 24, was convicted of aggravated murder, robbery and assault. The verdict ended her weeklong trial in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.

        Prosecutors say she led 25-year-old Bubacarr Kassama to a building on July 9 where two accomplices waited to rob him. During the robbery, Mr. Kassama was shot and killed.

        He was found dead on a sidewalk along Fulton Avenue in Walnut Hills.

        Ms. McKibbon will be sentenced Feb. 14 by Judge Robert Kraft.

Authorities identify second fire victim

        VERSAILLES — The second victim of a Sunday morning house fire at a campground near Versailles was has been identified as 31-year-old Sharon R. Madden Frost Hollon, formerly of Harrison.

        The Hamilton County Coroner's Office confirmed her identity, the Ripley County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday. Ms. Hollon and John H. Hollon, formerly of Middletown, died in a house fire at Browning's Campground in the 3600 block of E. CR 300 S. Both died of smoke inhalation.

        Firefighters responded to report of fire at about 4 a.m. and found the two victims inside the residence after the fire was extinguished. The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the State Fire Marshal's Office.

UC offers programs for minority prospects

        The University of Cincinnati is offering two programs on the Clifton Avenue campus for minority students who are considering coming to the school.

        Latino Visitation Day will Jan. 26 with programs to meet current Latino/Hispanic UC students and to learn about programs and services.

        Images of Color will be Jan. 27, bringing together prospective students with current UC students, faculty and staff. Latino/Hispanic students are invited to this program, too.

        For details, contact admissions officer Trever Thomas at or (513) 556-0891.

Union Institute to hold briefing

        The Union Institute will conduct an informal briefing about its doctoral and baccalaureate programs at its Cincinnati headquarters from 6 to 9 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 17, 440 E. McMillan St.

        Participants will learn about the various programs the institute offers, including those in interdisciplinary arts and sciences and professional psychology.

        Faculty, students and alumni will be on hand to answer questions and meet participants.

        To register for the event or for directions to the institute call (513) 861-6400 or 800-486- 3116. For additional information visit the Institute's web site at

Police investigate boy's scooter death

        FINDLAY, Ohio — Authorities are investigating whether a boy who died while riding a scooter was killed in a hit-and-run accident.

        The Lucas County Coroner's office has said Timothy Altvater, 10, of Forest, died from head injuries, but it was not clear whether a car was involved.

        “A car did not hit the boy himself, but it may have hit the scooter and propelled the boy,” said Diane Barnett, deputy Lucas County coroner.

        “The boy had very bad head injuries, which absolutely is what killed him. But he did not have bumper injuries or anything else characteristic of a pedestrian hit by an automobile.”

Ex-lawyer faces new accusations

        NORWALK, Ohio — A former lawyer who gained notoriety after a mysterious 1989 solo flight that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean is in trouble again.

        Thomas Root, 47, is accused of filing a fraudulent statement to collect $18,707 from the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Unclaimed Funds, said Sgt. Gary Lewis of the State Highway Patrol.

        Mr. Root is charged with tampering with records and securing writings by deception, both felonies. He is scheduled to appear in Franklin County Municipal Court in Columbus on Jan. 18.

        Mr. Root posed as a company officer for Mid Ohio Beverage, according to court documents.

        Mr. Root's attorney and part-time employer, George Ford, said he believes his client will be cleared. He said Mr. Root bought the company.

        Mr. Root gained national attention in July 1989 when 19 military planes were sent up to follow his single-engine Cessna 210 as it flew on autopilot from Washington down the East Coast before plunging into the Atlantic Ocean near the Bahamas.

        Mr. Root said he was unconscious during most of the flight, but Navy fighter pilots who intercepted the flight said they saw Root moving in the cockpit.

        He was sentenced to prison in 1992 for bilking thousands of investors in a radio licensing scam. He was disbarred after his conviction.

Mother sentenced in baby's death

        WARREN, Ohio — A woman was sentenced to five years in prison for killing her 2-month-old son by lacing his baby formula with a painkiller so he would sleep while she went bar-hopping.

        Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Andrew Logan told Nicole Phillips, 25, of Masury, before sentencing Tuesday that her son, Tavares, should have been more important to her than going out with friends.

        Prosecutors said Ms. Phillips put a prescription painkiller into her son's bottle on Oct. 16, 1999. The infant died the next day.

        Ms. Phillips pleaded guilty last month to one charge each of corrupting another with drugs and involuntary manslaughter. She could have received up to 10 years in prison.

        Ms. Phillips declined to comment before sentencing, but her attorney, Anthony Consoldane, said his client did not intend to kill her son.

        “She loved her baby,” Mr. Consoldane said. “This is a terrible tragedy.”


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Motive unclear in murder-suicide
The $18 million question: Who will pay?
Bias suits may widen in dispute
Earnings tax stall squeezes budget
School reform testing faulted
PULFER: Crisis plan
Runway study due within month
Seniors share time, knowledge with kids
CROWLEY: Bring on the crow and ketchup
OK sought for charter schools
Acquitted man faces charge
Alexandria site approved for regional sewage plant
Labs whet taste for science
SAMPLES: Readers react
Annual hikes to observe Martin Luther King Day
Chiquita testimony ordered
CPS considers private-run schools
Judge approves inmate abortions
Motorist faces charge of murder
New kids find a friend
Newport building will be moved, not razed
Pollster may test support for levy
Small businesses get tax refunds
Suspect: “Shoot me, shoot me!”
W. Chester may ask more for police
Winburn: Shirey deserves a pay raise
Kentucky News Briefs
- Tristate A.M. Report