Thursday, May 15, 2003

Tristate A.M. Report



Compiled from staff and wire reports

City schools plan no increase in budget

For the first time in at least five years, Cincinnati Public Schools is considering a budget that will decrease from the previous year.

Superintendent Alton Frailey charged his staff with holding the budget to $437 million or less and that's what they did, according to a preliminary budget proposal released Wednesday.

"He wanted the 2003-04 budget not one penny more than the current budget," said Treasurer Michael Geoghegan. "We knew we had a job to do."

The proposed general fund budget is $436.4 million. That's $704,000 less than the current general fund budget.

A 20-member budget commission, made up of teachers, parents, district administrators, union leaders and principals, collaborated with district department heads to make recommendations on the budget.

The commission and district leadership trimmed $11 million from original requests.

The budget is scheduled to be presented to the school board on June 9.

A date for a public hearing has not been scheduled.

Adoption of the budget is planned for June 23.

Retardation plea doesn't sway court

COLUMBUS - The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the death sentence of a Colerain Township man convicted of raping and strangling a 6-year-old girl, rejecting his claim that he was mentally retarded.

Ralph Lynch, 53, was sentenced to death for the slaying of Mary Jennifer Love in 1998. Lynch had lured the girl to his apartment and began to sexually assault her, then strangled her when she began to scream, court records said.

His execution is likely years away because he has yet to begin his federal court appeals.

Chief Justice Thomas Moyer, writing for a unanimous court, said Lynch's IQ of 72 "places him in the borderline range of intellectual functioning." But there was no evidence presented during his trial to establish retardation, Moyer wrote.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled that it was unconstitutional to execute mentally retarded inmates. The court left it up to the state to establish guidelines.

Teen accused of revenge killing

In an act of revenge, a 17-year-old Fay Apartments boy killed the brother of the man who shot him in the arm this year, authorities say.

A Hamilton County grand jury indicted Courtney Gill Wednesday as an adult on a charge of aggravated murder and murder in the shooting death of Brandon Butler, 18. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

Prosecutors say Gill was upset about being shot and wanted revenge. Gill is accused of waiting outside Butler's South Cumminsville apartment the night of April 10. When Butler arrived home, Gill struck up a conversation, then pulled out a gun and shot him, Cincinnati police say.

Butler died a few hours later at University Hospital.

Police tracked down Gill four days later and arrested him. A juvenile court judge this month sent the case to adult court for consideration by the grand jury. The teen is being held in the county justice center on $1 million bond.

Stun-gun attack brings prison term

HAMILTON - A Butler County judge sentenced a Monroe man to serve 12 years in prison for a January stun-gun attack on his ex-girlfriend.

Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Sage on Wednesday imposed the sentence on Robert "Joe" Rager, 35. A jury had convicted him on four charges - aggravated burglary, kidnapping, abduction and felonious assault - last month.

The victim, Lisa Dunn, 38, of Monroe, had testified that Rager used a stun gun on her up to 30 times, leaving five scars. "I'm proud that she had the fortitude" to testify at trial and again at sentencing Wednesday, Assistant Prosecutor Craig Hedric said. "This man deserves every day of the 12 years he's getting."

Propane line repaired and back in operation

LEBANON - Propane began flowing again through a pipeline that ruptured last week, damaging a state highway and belching a vapor cloud that prompted evacuation of 70 homes and a high school.

Shipments of propane used as home heating fuel resumed Tuesday through the 8-inch-wide pipeline to parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York state.

Texas Eastern Products Pipeline Co. was investigating to determine what caused the rupture, company spokeswoman Kathy Sauve said from Houston. No injuries were reported.

The leak blew a hole in a section of Ohio 122 about 25 miles north of Cincinnati. Traffic has been detoured around the damage.

The pipeline runs from the Texas coast of the Gulf of Mexico to the New Jersey coast.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and U.S. Department of Transportation were working with the company's crews. Company officials were awaiting tests on a piece of the damaged pipe.




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