Sunday, July 22, 2001

Local Digest

Colerain Twp. man killed in I-75 crash

        MIDDLETOWN — A 35-year-old Colerain Township man was killed Saturday after he entered Interstate 75 heading the wrong way and struck another vehicle head-on.

        The Lebanon post of the Ohio Highway Patrol said Mark Mastrullo drove onto I-75 traveling south in the northbound lanes at 4:27 a.m., striking another vehicle in the center lane. The crash occurred about 1 mile south of the Middletown exit.

        Police said Mr. Mastrullo's vehicle overturned into the median. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

        Jason McDonald, of Ontario, Canada, the driver of the vehicle struck, and five passengers in that vehicle, were taken to Middletown Regional Hospital. Police said their injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

        Police did not have names of the passengers. The accident remains under investigation. Everyone was wearing seat belts, police said.

Alleged house of prostitution raided

               DAYTON, Ky. — A weeks-long undercover operation has resulted in the raid of a home here that police claim was housing a prostitution ring.

        Tonia Phillips, 33, of the 300 block of Fourth Avenue, was arrested Friday and charged with promoting prostitution. She is being held at the Campbell County jail. Bond has not been set.

        Dayton police said they began investigating Ms. Phillips after receiving a tip that she was operating a prostitution ring from her home. Undercover agents from the Kenton County Sheriff's Department and the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force assisted.

Madisonville men charged in robberies

               Two Madisonville residents have been arrested in the robberies of Provident Bank's Kenwood branch and two video stores, all in May.

        Phillip E. Taylor, 19, of the 5400 block of Ehrling Road, was charged with two counts of aggravated robbery of the bank on May 8 and the May 31 robbery of the Hollywood Video Store, 5471 Ridge Road, in Columbia Township.

        A 17-year-old was charged with three counts of aggravated robbery for the bank incident and the May 26 robbery of the Blockbuster Video Store, 7690 Montgomery Road, in Kenwood.

        Mr. Taylor remains at the Hamilton County Justice Center. The teen is at the juvenile detention center.

Stormwater tunnel symposium scheduled

               A national symposium on tunnels to drain off heavy rains and prevent floods and sewer overflows will be Aug. 17-18 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, downtown.

        The full program costs $150, but the Aug. 18 morning session — which will address the proposed $800 million tunnel 300 feet beneath the Mill Creek — is free and open to the public.

        Tunnels also are being considered in Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo, according to the sponsors of the program, Cincinnati State Technical & Community College and the Metropolitan Sewer District.

        Information: Ann Gunkel at Cincinnati State, 569-1783, or MSD's Web site,

UC awarded grant to study genetics

               The University of Cincinnati College of Medicine has received a four-year, $2.5 million federal grant to study genetic factors related to hemophilia, hepatitis C and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

        Some hemophiliacs suffer rapid liver damage when infected with hepatitis C and HIV, but the damage appears less rapid when HIV is not involved, said Dr. Kenneth Sherman, a UC hepatitis expert and lead investigator for the study.

        The study will involve lab studies to build a genetic data bank, and treating a group of hemophiliacs with a new-generation drug for hepatitis C.

        UC will serve as the coordinating site for the study, which also will involve six other medical centers nationwide.

Loose license plate leads to suspects

               SPRINGFIELD — Two men were charged with burglary after their getaway car hit a mailbox and the license plate fell off, the Clark County Sheriff's office said.

        Robert Rothgeb, 21, and Jason Breakall, 21, both of Springfield, were charged with aggravated burglary. They are accused of stealing a television, VCR, jewelry and medications from the home of Walter Hyde.

        Two men used a rock to break glass on a rear door of Mr. Hyde's home about 5 a.m. Thursday, sheriff's investigator Lt. Russell Garman said.

        Police said Mr. Hyde, 74, was beaten unconscious during the burglary. He was treated at a local hospital and released.

        Deputies investigating a nearby hit-and-run accident that morning found a license plate. Deputies said the plate was traced to a woman who said she loaned her car to Mr. Rothgeb and a friend.

Jury acquits woman in boyfriend's death

               McARTHUR, Ohio — Jurors have acquitted a woman accused of killing her boyfriend by ramming his riding lawn mower with her car as he drove along a county road.

        The acquittal in Vinton County Common Pleas Court came in Leona Pettit's second murder trial related to the 1998 death of Charles Pettit. In 1999, another jury convicted Ms. Pettit, 31. She was serving a 15-year sentence when an appeals court overturned that verdict, saying the judge had erred in instructing the jury.

        Ms. Pettit described the impact between the car and her boyfriend's mower as a tap. She said a broken tie-rod caused the mower to flip and fatally injure Mr. Pettit, the father of two of her children.


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