breaking news

Dayton woman sent to prison for shooting boyfriend

Published: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 6:47 PM
Updated: Thursday, March 23, 2017 @ 9:21 AM

Nina Davis, right, is comforted in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court on Monday, March 20, 2017. Davis is accused of the shooting death of her boyfriend last year in Dayton.
Nina Davis, right, is comforted in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court on Monday, March 20, 2017. Davis is accused of the shooting death of her boyfriend last year in Dayton.

UPDATE @ 10:25 a.m. (April 11)

Nina Davis has been sentenced to 7 years total for involuntary manslaughter and a gun specification in the April 29, 2016 death of Travis Smith. Davis was accused of killing Travis Smith during a domestic disagreement in their home. Davis’ murder trial was stopped in March when a plea deal was struck. 

UPDATE @ 9:19 a.m. (March 23)

Nina Davis’ murder trial ended Thursday morning when her attorney and prosecutors struck a plea deal which will limit her prison time from six to 14 years.

Davis, 35, pleaded guilty by bill of information to one count of involuntary manslaughter with a three-year gun specification. In exchange for her guilty plea, prosecutors dropped charges of murder, felonious assault and tampering with evidence.

Prosecutors said a stipulated sentence would be three to 11 years for the first-degree felony involuntary manslaughter count plus a mandatory three years for the gun specification.

Davis was accused of killing Travis Smith during an argument in their home. Anthony VanNoy, Davis’ attorney, had said the killing was accidental. The defense was scheduled to begin Thursday morning and VanNoy had said Davis would take the stand.


Travis Smith died in his bathroom on April 29, 2016 — his birthday — from a bullet fired after had just used the toilet.

After that, prosecutors said the story of Smith’s live-in girlfriend and mother to their children changed several times. Nina Davis’ defense attorney said the shooting was an accident that happened during an argument.

Davis, 35, was indicted on two counts of murder, two counts of felonious assault and one count of tampering with evidence. Her trial began Monday in the courtroom of Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Gregory Singer.

RELATED: Judge doesn’t allow information about victim

A Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputy — even though it was in the city of Dayton — was only a block and a half from the residence on Patton Avenue in Dayton when dispatchers said someone called saying they needed medical assistance after a shooting.

“Over the course of the next 24 hours, the defendant would do everything she could to convince Dayton police officers that this shooting was an accident,” Montgomery County assistant prosecutor Kraig Chadrick told jurors. “But as each piece of evidence was collected and analyzed, it became clear that the shooting death of Travis Smith wasn’t an accident. It was a murder.”

Law enforcement officers testified about how Smith was found in a fetal position on the floor of the bathroom with his underwear around his ankles and that a discharged bullet, shell casing and broken cell phone also were located.

RELATED: Nina Davis arraigned on murder charges

Chadrick said the path the bullet took hit Smith’s right lung, the right side of the heart, his liver and exited out the lower portion of his lower left back near his buttocks was not not consistent with an accidental discharge.

Defense attorney Anthony VanNoy told jurors the path of the bullet proves his position.

“Clearly from the evidence, the firearm is either picked up or taken from Travis, and as she’s taking that firearm from Travis, the shot is fired,” VanNoy said. “It’s an accident. You don’t shoot somebody in the shoulder to kill them. You shoot them in the chest, you shoot them in the face. It was an accidental shooting. It was not intentional.”

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The deputy and Dayton police officers testified that Davis was frantic when they arrived and begging for the ambulance to get Smith. Cruiser cam video showed Davis first telling officers Smith was shot when he came into the house.

“There’s a reason why Ms. Davis’ version of events changes,” Chadrick said. “It’s because she’s not telling the truth.”

VanNoy said Smith had a blood-alcohol level of .29 — more than three times the legal limit to drive a car — and that his phone went off. Then, he said, Davis saw that it was another woman calling, smashed it and took it to Smith, who had told her to come into the bathroom.


VanNoy said that Davis initially was scared to tell police the truth, but quickly told them it was an accident. He told jurors his client will take the stand to testify.

“She grabbed it. She picked it up. And you’re going to hear she’s a novice with a firearm, but she didn’t intentionally or knowingly shoot Travis,” VanNoy said. “Listen to Nina after the call, after the shots are fired. She calls 911 and she is a wreck. She’s asking, begging, pleading for help for Travis.”

A detective testified he found the gun under a shirt in an open dresser drawer. The detective showed the jury the gun, and pointed to where the safety mechanism is.

Testimony is scheduled to resume Tuesday afternoon in a trial scheduled to last until Thursday.

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Fifth woman from similar background is missing from Middletown

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 8:17 AM

4 women are missing from Middletown

Middletown police are continuing to look for Julie Kakaris, who told her father via phone messages that she was being held against her will.

Officers were called to the residence of Kakaris’ father on Tuesday afternoon on a report that she was possibly being held against her will at an apartment complex.

Paul Bilunka said he received messages from his daughter last Monday that two to three men were holding her in an apartment and forcing her to do drugs, according to the police report. She asked him to pick her up because she was scared, but in a later conversation she asked him not to do so.

FIRST REPORT: Police looking for woman reportedly held against her will

Officers checked possible locations for Kakaris on Tuesday and have been checkout leads ever since, according to Major Scott Reeve.

“We have knocked on doors and talked to people, but we haven’t found her,” Reeve said. “We are concerned.”

Four other women with similar backgrounds remain missing from Middletown. The police department has enlisted the help the the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to locate the women or leads on their whereabouts.

MORE: Lindsay Bogan: Middletown police discuss theories in woman’s death

The four women missing from Middletown are:

• Brandy English, 41, missing May 11, 2016 from Middletown

• Amber Flack, 30, missing Sept. 1, 2016 from Middletown

• Melinda (Oney) Miller, 47, missing Feb. 19, 2017 from Middletown

• Michelle Burgan, 47, missing May 16, 2017 from Middletown

Additionally, two others missing along the I-75/71 corridor could be connected.

They are:

• Amber Whitmer, 30, missing June 6, 2016 from Springfield

• Chelsey Coe, 25, reported missing in August from Miamisburg

Reeve said in recent weeks Middletown detectives have traveled to Jacksonville, Fla. and and Louisville, Ky. following leads on English, but had not luck finder her.

“It is difficult and frustrating trying to find these ladies because the don’t have a permanent address and have a lifestyles that makes them vulnerable,” Reeve said.

MORE: Middletown woman helping police in Lindsay Bogan case now missing

Reeve said all the women are adults with a history of drug abuse, and some were homeless and had a history of prostitution.

Detectives said it is possible English’s disappearance could be related to Lindsay Bogan, who went missing from Middletown two years ago and whose skeletal remains were found more than a year ago in a field on a Madison Twp. farm. Her death remains unsolved.

English made it known to others she was helping police in their investigation of Bogan’s death, police told this news outlet in 2016. There have been no sightings of English since her disappearance.

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Your questions answered about the opioid epidemic

Published: Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 9:50 AM

What You Need To Know: Opioids

Many who attended the recent forums on opioids held throughout the Miami Valley by Your Voice Ohio and this newspaper submitted questions about the epidemic. Here are some of the answers to those questions.

RELATED: A whole new life:' Local people share their path out of the depths of addiction, and into long-term recovery.

Q: How are the drugs coming into our country?

A variety of ways. Heroin may first enter the country through underground tunnels or in secret compartments hollowed out of car panels or welded into semi-trailer truck frames. At times, a dealer simply schedules a pickup with FedEx and plays the odds that a shipment will make it through.

Sometimes it comes in through a drug courier’s bowels, as mules are paid to carry balloons of heroin over the border on foot or through an airport.

Regardless of how it’s delivered, authorities say most of the heroin purchased in southwest Ohio — and in America today — is trafficked by violent criminal organizations based in one country: Mexico.

“To get a kilo of heroin in the Dayton area five years ago, that was a lot of heroin. Nowadays it’s not,” said Tim Plancon, assistant special agent in charge of DEA’s Ohio Columbus District Office.

Fentanyl — heroin’s more potent cousin, which is responsible for the large spike in deaths in the region seen in 2016 and 2017 — comes mainly through the mail from China.

Chinese authorities place little emphasis on controlling fentanyl production or export because the synthetic opioid is not widely used in China.

Participants at the Your Voice Ohio opioid forum discuss their thoughts about the causes and solutions to the area’s drug epidemic at the downtown Dayton Metro Library, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018. DOUG OPLINGER/Contributed(Staff Writer)

The fentanyl is sometimes difficult to trace because it arrives through a range of products that include fentanyl-laced counterfeit prescription drugs like oxycodone.

Authorities say Chinese chemical exporters get around U.S. laws by exploiting unregulated online ordering systems, mislabeling shipments, and modifying banned substances to create yet-illegal substances.

READ MORE: How Mexican drug cartels move heroin to Miam Valley street corners

Q: What are the true demographics of the addict population?

Final 2017 overdose numbers including demographic info on those who died aren’t available yet, but the 2016 numbers show the wide range of ages, races and cities affected by the epidemic.

In Montgomery County in 2016, the youngest to die was 2-year-old Lee Hays, who somehow got hold of fentanyl. The oldest was a 79-year-old man. Eighty percent were white; 64 percent were men. Dayton had the most deaths with 162, but people also overdosed and died in 20 other communities including Brookville, Clayton, Miamisburg, Oakwood and Washington Twp.

RELATED: 5 reasons why officials point to China in the deadly fentanyl pipeline

Q: Why is there not more focus on alternative medicines to opioids?

It has been shown that opioid addictions can start when undergoing treatment for short-term pain. Additionally, the use of opioids during short-term treatment has increased in the past few years.

To avoid the risk of addiction, researchers have explored using tylenol and ibuprofen for pain rather than opiates. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that on patients with broken bones and sprains, acetaminophen and ibuprofen worked as well as opioids at reducing severe pain.

The study notes that a pill combining ibuprofen and acetaminophen affects different pain receptors in the body, and can be highly effective. Pills that combine the two drugs are not yet available in the United States, and it’s also important to note that this study only looked at short-term pain relief in the emergency room.

Using ibuprofen and acetaminophen may not be ideal for long term use, according to Good Rx. 

Q: What about medical marijuana?

While using marijuana to treat pain may have less mainstream approval than other treatments, a report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine shows it can be effective in reducing neuropathic pain, a form of chronic pain that can cause damaged nerve endings.

Cannabinoids are seen by many doctors as actually “safer” than prescribing opioids, PBS reports. There are lower rates of addiction, and they don’t affect the brain stem. That means when using cannabis, your breathing and other basic life support functions are not affected, avoiding the risk of fatal overdoses.

Dr. Jordan Tishler, who handled emergency medicine at the Boston VA, states that most patients only need low doses of cannabis to treat chronic pain: “The amount they find relief with is nowhere near what laypeople recommend to each other or what recreational users take.”

Ohio’s medical marijuana program is set to launch later this year.

Q: How do people get hooked on opioids?

A 2013 study examining national-level general population heroin data — including those in and not in treatment — found that nearly 80 percent of heroin users reported using prescription opioids prior to heroin. We also know that roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.

When someone suffers from chronic pain, their body is constantly sending pain signals to their brain; which doesn’t allow their body to produce enough natural endorphins. At this point, a doctor would prescribe an opioid medication. Now the opioids and their natural endorphins can both land on their nerve receptors.

Next, the brain cells that have opioid receptors on them gradually become less responsive to the opioid stimulation. Once someone develops a tolerance, withdrawal symptoms begin to occur if a higher dosage is not given. Repeated exposure to escalating doses of opioids alters the brain so that it functions more or less normally when the drugs are present and abnormally when they are not. Therefore, even more opioid intake becomes necessary to produce pleasure comparable to that provided in any previous drug-taking episodes.

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3-year-old girl allegedly assaulted by her babysitter has died

Published: Sunday, March 18, 2018 @ 12:28 PM
Updated: Sunday, March 18, 2018 @ 3:41 PM

UPDATE: 3-year-old girl allegedly shaken by babysitter was found with bruises on her head and face

A 3-year-old girl died Sunday, just a few days after her babysitter was indicted on charges of felonious assault and felony child endangering.

Hannah Wesche was essentially “brain dead” at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, her father, Jason Wesche, previously said. She was pronounced dead at 12:15 a.m., he said via a post made late Sunday morning on GoFundMe page #Hannahstrong#JusticeforHannah at

As of 3:40 p.m. Sunday, the page had raised $8,332 of its $15,000 goal.

Lindsay Partin, who is accused of assaulting the 3-year-old child while in her care March 8, was free on bond Thursday after being arraigned on a felony indictment Thursday afternoon.

MORE: Babysitter accused of assaulting toddler free on bond and back in court next month

Partin, 35, of the 4000 block of Shank Road in Hanover Twp., was indicted by a Butler County grand jury on charges of felonious assault and felony child endangering. Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Stephens set bond at $75,000 at her arraignment.

Partin was free on bond at 7:15 p.m. Thursday. She is scheduled to be back in court for a pre-trial hearing on April 9.

At about 7 a.m. March 8, Hanover Twp. emergency crews and Butler County detectives responded to Partin’s residence for an unconscious child. They found Hannah unresponsive with labored breathing, according to the sheriff’s office. There were obvious bruises about her head and face.

MORE: 911 call in alleged babysitter assault: “Hannah breathe. Breathe for Daddy”

The girl was taken by medical helicopter to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center with life-threatening injuries. After further investigation, detectives and hospital personnel noted additional bruising on the child’s body.

Partin admitted to striking the child and stated she had fallen and struck her head on the concrete garage floor the previous day.

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Multiple shots fired at MJs Fish and Chips in Dayton

Published: Sunday, March 18, 2018 @ 12:08 AM

The owner of MJ’s Fish and Chips arrived Saturday to find that someone fired multiple shots into the building.

Surveillance footage from the restaurant at 1600 W. Riverview Ave. showed that just after 1 a.m. a maroon small sport-utility vehicle, possibly a Kia Sportage, slowly drove south in the wrong direction of Paul Laurence Dunbar Avenue. The SUV briefly paused in front of the store before leaving the area.

>> Customer threatens clerk with gun after he calls him the N-word

At 1:45 a.m., Dayton police officers are seen checking the area after someone reported hearing several shots fired.

Police discovered 11 bullet holes: six in the window to the west of the doorway; three in the sign above the door; and two in the door.

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