Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Tristate A.M. Report

Compiled from staff and wire reports

Patrol cracking down along I-75 in Butler

LIBERTY TWP. - The Ohio State Highway Patrol on Tuesday began increased enforcement along Interstate 75 in Butler County just north of Interstate 275 to the Ohio 63 exit in Monroe.

The three-month patrol blitz is designed to slow motorists during peak traffic times in two areas of I-75: a construction zone just north of I-275 and a deadly stretch north from Liberty Township to Monroe, said patrol Lt. Michael Black of the Hamilton post.

Construction to widen I-75 from six to eight lanes from Kemper Road in Sharonville to Tylersville Road in West Chester Township began last month.

Farther north along I-75, barriers recently were installed along a stretch where eight people died in traffic crashes in 2001 when vehicles crossed over the median, Lt. Black said.

This winter alone, the barriers prevented about 15 vehicles from crossing the median and causing accidents, he added.

The speed limit through the target enforcement area is 65 mph for cars and 55 mph for trucks.

Ex-employee sues county park district

A former Hamilton County Park District mechanic says his ex-boss harassed him into returning to work too soon after suffering a work-related injury, eventually forcing him leave work.

Greg Loring, who worked for the park district from 1982 to February of 2002, is suing the park district, the county and its commissioners for lost pay and more than $25,000. The Cleves man alleges that the district violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Judge overruled on jury's death choice

LEBANON - Warren County prosecutors were given another chance to secure the death penalty in the November 2000 slaying of an inmate at Warren Correctional Institution.

The Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals overturned Judge Neal Bronson's decision that reversed a jury's death penalty recommendation for Timothy Hancock in the strangulation of his cellmate, Jason Wagner.

In a decision released Monday, the 12th District sent the case back to Bronson, instructing him to weigh the aggravating circumstances of the homicide and mitigating factors.

Bronson, of Warren County Common Pleas Court, declared a mistrial in the sentencing phase in December 2001, after discovering that jurors reviewed pictures of the dead victim, Hancock's audiotaped statements to police, and the knotted cloth used in the strangulation.

Bronson said he felt the information was prejudicial, even though the same items were available to jurors in deliberating Hancock's guilt.

Hancock, already serving a life sentence for the 1989 killing of a family friend, told authorities he strangled Wagner after the 25-year-old bragged about the abduction, rape and attempted murder of a 3-year-old Lancaster girl and made a sexual overture.

Hancock's lawyers raised an insanity defense, saying their client was diagnosed with various mental illnesses while in prison and was being treated for psychosis at the time of the killing.

Forum to discuss hiring hoops coach

MIDDLETOWN - A community forum to discuss the hiring of a basketball coach for Middletown High School will be held tonight at the Wade E. Miller Gym.

The 7:15 p.m. public meeting is designed to gather opinion as Middletown school officials embark on hiring a new boys basketball coach to replace Bob Nocton, whose contract was not renewed after his seventh season and a won-lost record of 66-87. The gym is next to what is now the Vail Middle School at 1515 Girard Ave.

Eric Tudor, athletic director for Middletown High School, said the forum is the first of its kind in the city and reflects the local importance of the basketball program, which has won seven state championships.

Yavneh appoints a new principal

Yavneh Day School in Kenwood will have a new principal of Judaic studies for the 2003-2004 school year.

Ophra Weisberg is stepping in for Cory Chargo, who has accepted the position of head of school with Maimonides Academy of Western Connecticut.

Chargo has been the principal of Judiac studies at Yavneh for four years.

Weisberg, a Barnard College and Xavier University graduate, is a 31-year veteran of Yavneh. She has been a teacher and, most recently, director of integrated studies. Weisberg and husband David, a past president of Yavneh and a professor of Bible at Hebrew Union College, have four children who attended Yavneh.

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