Saturday, April 27, 2002

Tristate A.M. Report

'Pay to stay' at jail ruled unconstitutional

        Hamilton County's practice of charging inmates a fee to stay in its jails is officially unconstitutional.

        U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel ruled Friday that the county's “pay to stay” policy violates the rights of inmates. The ruling was no surprise because the judge ruled the same way last year in a preliminary finding.

        In his ruling, Judge Spiegel described the practice as “extreme” and said it was unfair because it requires inmates to pay a fee before they have been found guilty of a crime.

        Attorneys Robert Newman and Steve Felson filed the lawsuit on behalf of hundreds of inmates who had paid at least a portion of the $30 “book-in fee” at one of the county's jails.

        Because of Judge Spiegel's ruling, the county may be forced to refund up to $1 million that has been collected from inmates.

Tobias free during morgue photo appeal

        Dr. Jonathan Tobias will remain free while he appeals his conviction on charges of helping a photographer take pictures of bodies at the Hamilton County morgue.

        Dr. Tobias, a former pathologist at the morgue, was sentenced last week to five months in jail. But the Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals ruled Friday that he should be allowed to post a $5,000 bond and remain free pending the outcome of his appeal.

        Dr. Tobias, 32, was accused of helping photographer Thomas Condon gain access to the morgue.

        In a separate ruling, the court denied Mr. Condon's request to remain free pending his appeal. Mr. Condon, 30, is supposed to begin his 2 1/2-year prison sentence next week.

        Mr. Condon has said the photographs of bodies, some of which were posed with inanimate objects, were intended to be works of art.

        Prosecutors argued that Mr. Condon did not have the permission of county officials or the families of the people who appeared in his photos.

        The photos were discovered by a photo lab that was processing Mr. Condon's film.

Woman rescued from funeral home fire

        MILFORD — Firefighters and police used an aerial ladder to rescue a woman from the second floor of Evans Funeral Home after a fire broke out in the business early Friday.

        There were no injuries.

        “She was awakened by the alarm system,” Milford Community Fire Department Chief John Cooper said.

        Two police officers and an owner of the business who is also a Milford firefighter used a ladder to get the woman from the window onto a lower roof before the first fire crews arrived.

        Fire crews were called to the funeral home about 4:17 a.m. and found heavy fire in a hallway. The hallway, two restrooms, a vestibule and a break room suffered fire damage. There was smoke damage in the rest of the building.

        The damage estimate was set at $150,000-$175,000. The blaze was sparked by a malfunctioning light fixture in the rear hallway, the chief said.

Sisters hurt in Ohio 125 crash

       BATAVIA TWP. — Two young sisters were rushed to Children's Hospital Medical Center Friday with critical injuries after a two-car crash on Ohio 125, just east of Ohio 222.

        The girls' mother, Lori J. Clark, 41, of Bethel, was treated for minor injuries at Mercy Hospital Clermont and released. The other driver, Robert L. Schuster, 34, of Bethel, refused treatment for minor injuries.

        According to troopers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol in Batavia, Mr. Schuster was eastbound on Ohio 125 when he drove left of the center line and struck Ms. Clark's westbound vehicle.

        A helicopter transported the two girls — April, 11, and Katie, 10 — to Children's. April was in critical condition by Friday evening. Katie was in serious.

        Troopers do not know why Mr. Schuster lost control of his vehicle.

        The crash remains under investigation.

        No other information was available.

Teens hurt in Monroe accident

        MONROE — Two teen-agers were injured Friday when their car was struck by a semi at Yankee Road and Ohio 63, a busy intersection that is undergoing a safety upgrade.

        The names of the two people who were in the Hyundai Elantra were not released Friday evening, but they were airlifted to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Monroe Police Chief Ernest Howard said. They are a male and female, both 18, a hospital spokeswoman said.

        The female, who was driving, was in critical condition and the male was still being evaluated at the hospital Friday evening. The truck driver was not injured.

        Police say the driver of the car was driving south on Yankee Road when she pulled into the path of the semi going west on Ohio 63. The truck driver swerved to miss the car, but ended up striking it on the driver's side.

        The impact pushed the car into the Ohio 63 median. The car was destroyed.

        Work crews are finishing installation of a traffic light at the intersection and hope to have the signal working by the end of May, Ohio Department of Transportation officials said.

Glendale police hold first open house

        GLENDALE — The Glendale Police Department is holding an open house today from noon-4:30 p.m. at its historic station at 301 E. Sharon Road.

        “This is the first one we've ever done,” Glendale Police Chief Matt Fruchey said. “We just want to get to know individual members of the community. Our goal is to be on a first-name basis with everybody we possibly can.”

        Visitors can meet Glendale officers, and there will be seminars and exhibits. The Hamilton County Strategic Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) will be there and the Hamilton County Communications center will also have a unit on display.

        Visitors can also take tours of the police station. Built in 1871, the station is the oldest in Ohio in continuous operation.

Candies recalled for choking hazard

        The Food and Drug Administration is recalling Mini Jelly Snack Cups produced by Yoli, Inc.

        More than 3,000 bags of the mini jelly candies are being recalled because they include the ingredient “konjac'' which can present a choking hazard. Infants, children, and the elderly are particularly at risk.

        The product is sold in bags containing six small, sealed plastic cups. They were distributed in several states, including Ohio and Indiana.

        Consumers are urged to return the product to the place of purchase. For information, call Yoli, Inc. at (773) 434-8290.


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- Tristate A.M. Report
Uniforms required in district
Woman saved from funeral home fire
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