Saturday, February 03, 2001

Local Digest

Evidence argued at Ringer hearing

        A downtown barber accused of killing his ex-girlfriend will return to court later this month for a hearing on whether jurors should hear his statement to police.

        Tony Ringer, 30, of Westwood, remained out of jail on $1 million bond. He is charged with two counts of murder in the Dec. 20 death of Cassandra Betts, 25, of Fairfield. She was six weeks pregnant when she was shot to death.

        A dozen of Ms. Betts' friends and family members attended a Friday hearing during which Judge Richard Niehaus ruled on a variety of procedural motions about evidence. Defense attorney Ken Lawson will be allowed to have an expert examine the scrapings taken from under Ms. Betts' fingernails.

        The next hearing was set for Feb. 21.

Threats not seen as ethnic intimidation

               A Fairfield man is to be sentenced March 9 after a jury found him guilty of several charges and acquitted him of one count in a case involving a police videotape of some of his alleged misconduct.

        Thomas Jefferson Sanders, 40, was convicted Thursday of domestic violence, aggravated menacing and two counts of assaulting Fairfield police officers. After 3 1/2 hours of deliberation, the jury acquitted Mr. Sanders, who is black, of ethnic intimidation against a white police officer.

        A videotape made in the police cruiser captured Mr. Sanders, in the back seat, making threats and racial slurs.

        Nevertheless, jurors later explained they found Mr. Sanders not guilty of ethnic intimidation because they weren't convinced that he threatened the officer because of his race, said Assistant Prosecutor Brenda Cox.

Drug suspect taken in raid at his home

               FOREST PARK - More than a dozen police officers arrested a man at his home on drug charges Friday morning.

        Rodney Prater, 29, is charged with three counts of trafficking in crack cocaine and misdemean or drug abuse.

        Members of the Drug Abuse Reduction Taskforce, dressed in black, armed and with their faces covered, converged on Mr. Prater's Fremantle Drive home about 10:30 a.m. Friday. Mr. Prater was arrested without incident.

        The arrest culminated a six-month investigation into drug activity in the Forest Park area. Mr. Prater is accused of selling crack cocaine to undercover officers, said Larry Stokes, DART field commander.

Dinner, music open Black History events

               HAMILTON - Black History Month kicks off today at Miami University Hamilton with the annual Taste of Soul Dinner and Concert. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Harry T. Wilks Conference Center, 1601 Peck Blvd.

        The 40-member Wilberforce University Choir will present a program ranging from classical church spirituals to contemporary black gospel.

        Tickets are $7; $6 for senior citizens and Miami faculty and staff; $5 for Miami students. Contact the office of Multicultural Services at 785-3024 for information or tickets.

Unpaid loans result in warrants

               COLUMBUS — The federal government is going after two Ohioans who haven't paid their student loans.

        Federal judges issued warrants Thursday for Diana S. Phillips of Pomeroy and Dennis M. Smith of Chandlersville, who owe about $8,600 and $5,531, respectively, with interest and penalties. Both are 49 years old.

Two dead, 5 hurt in steel plant fire

               BURNS HARBOR, Ind. — A fire at a steel plant Friday killed two workers and seriously injured at least two others.

        Bethlehem Steel Corp. said a company employee and a contract employee were killed. Five people with injuries were taken to Porter Memorial Hospital.

        The company declined to release any details of what caused the fire in the plant's 1,700-acre site on Lake Michigan.

Man faces variety of theft, DUI counts

               GLENDALE — A Glendale man is facing a string of charges in two counties, accused of stealing a pickup truck and breaking into cars in Glendale early Friday before fleeing from police in Butler County.

        Glendale police have charged Gilmer R. Hess, 22, with grand theft auto - a felony - two misdemeanor counts of theft and two counts of attempted theft.

        Police in Hamilton have charged him with driving under the influence, driving under suspension, fleeing and eluding police officers and resisting arrest.

        Glendale police said he broke into two cars about 2 a.m. Friday and took items and cash. He is also accused of trying to break into two other cars.

        Hamilton Officer Don Taylor said Mr. Hess led police on a chase before jumping out of the pickup, which crashed into a parked car.


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