Dayton woman’s trial starts in death of man shot on birthday

Published: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 12:57 PM


            Nina Davis, accused of murder.

A jury has been selected in the murder trial of Nina M. Davis, a Dayton woman accused of shooting and killing Travis Smith in June 2016. Opening statements were expected to begin at 1:45 p.m.

Davis, 35, was indicted for two counts of murder, two counts of felonious assault and one count of tampering with evidence. Smith was shot once on his 34th birthday with a .45-caliber handgun after an argument, according to prosecutors. Police located the weapon hidden inside a dresser drawer.

RELATED: Nina Davis arraigned on murder charges

Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Gregory Singer ruled prosecutors will be able to present evidence that Davis had verbal altercations in which she threatened to kill Smith. Singer also ruled that Davis’ defense attorney can’t present evidence that Smith was a drug dealer.

“(Smith) informed neighbors he was moving out of the home he shared with (Davis) the day before the shooting,” Montgomery County assistant prosecutor Kraig Chadrick wrote in a motion to use so-called bad prior acts. “When interviewed by detectives following the shooting, (Davis) claimed it was an accident.

“It follows that the evidence set forth above goes to show (Davis’) motive for shooting (Smith) as well as a lack of mistake or accident and will be admitted by the State for reason other than (Davis’) character.”

Defense attorney Anthony VanNoy argued against such evidence, saying it would be highly prejudicial to Davis.

“It is impermissible to allow the jury to decide her guilt and sentence, not on the specific facts of the incident she is charged,” VanNoy wrote. “But rather by using unreliable, inaccurate accounts of a prior altercation made by bias neighbors, who grew up with Smith, and may have been taking money from him in exchange for their silence about his drug activities.”

In a written motion, prosecutors also asked Singer to deny information that Smith was involved in drug activity, such as “video surveillance systems, firearms and a safe containing suspected heroin.”

Chadrick wrote that “whether or not the decedent was involved in drug activity is not an essential element of any charge contained in the indictment.”

VanNoy argued Smith’s activities should be fair game.

“Smith’s daily drug activity is relevant because it highlights the lifestyle and toxic environment in which him and Davis had grown accustomed to living,” VanNoy wrote. “Drugs were a constant part of life in the household. Smith frequently carried his gun to protect himself while carrying out his drug activities.”

Chadrick also asked Singer to prevent VanNoy from “commenting on, questioning witnesses, or presenting evidence regarding battered woman syndrome,” which he said is a part of a self-defense claim and not consistent with an accidental shooting defense.

The judge said he would deny VanNoy’s motion unless he could provide evidence that other courts have allowed evidence of battered-women type activity without claiming that defense.

Missing cop faked his death, fled to Mexico, police say

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017 @ 6:31 PM

A Texas police officer who was originally reported missing is believed to have attempted to fake his own death and to have fled to Mexico, officials said Friday night.

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Austin police Officer Coleman Martin, 29, is facing a Class A misdemeanor charge of “false report,” as a result.

Martin’s wife told KVUE-TV on Saturday that “Cole recently received a new prescription medication."

"The side effects were causing him to be depressed and think irrationally,” she said. “We want him to know his family loves him unconditionally and wants him home safe." 

Martin’s wife asked to remain anonymous for the interview.

An arrest affidavit for the missing officer said a woman, who was not his wife, shared an email with detectives, in which Martin wrote to her and said his plan for a staged death had been successful.

The affidavit does not say how the woman knows Martin.

Martin’s email to the woman said he had staged a scene by parking his vehicle by a body of water near the U.S. border with Mexico, the affidavit says. Then he rode a bicycle for about 8 miles to a convenience store, took a taxi to the border and rode a bus farther into Mexico, the affidavit says he said in the email.

Police obtained video footage of Martin at a gas station in Del Rio, the affidavit says. They also talked to a clerk at the gas station who had spoken to Martin. Martin told the clerk he had biked from Amistad Park to the store, the affidavit says.

Police first got involved on Tuesday night, when Martin’s wife called 911, the affidavit says. She told police that Martin had texted her a photo of a handwritten note that said he was going to drown himself in a lake near the border of Mexico. 

The next morning, officials at the Amistad National Recreation Area said they found Martin’s vehicle with a suicide note inside, the affidavit says. His wallet was also inside the vehicle, but there was no money inside it. His passport was also not in the vehicle.

In response, “a massive search operation was initiated using local, state and federal resources” on Wednesday and Thursday, the affidavit says.

The search team found an inflatable raft in the Amistad Reservoir, which is on the Rio Grande at the border between Mexico and the United States, with Martin’s name, his date of birth, date of death and his and his wife’s initials written on the side, the affidavit says. Inside the raft were remnants of a concrete block as well as scrape marks that indicated that concrete blocks had been pushed over the edge.

Investigators discovered a charge on Martin’s credit card for a new HP tablet from a Best Buy in Austin a few hours before he sent the suicide note to his wife, and the tablet was not found in his vehicle, the affidavit said. Then, investigators learned that someone had accessed Martin’s email from Mexico about five hours after he sent the suicide note text.

According to the affidavit, investigators believe Martin placed “the boat to appear he entered the water, paddled to the middle and jumped overboard with concrete blocks and ropes, and (placed) the raft on the shore to give the appearance it had drifted to shore from where the initial entry place was.”

Investigators tracked down and interviewed the unnamed woman at 4:15 p.m. Thursday.

3 arrested in Middletown Rite Aide drug robbery

Published: Sunday, April 30, 2017 @ 1:01 PM


            Unidentified

Middletown police arrested three Indianapolis men in connection to a robbery at Rite Aid Saturday.

A police dispatcher confirmed officers arrested Yasar Jamal Burnett, 18, Brandon Dawson, 18 and Eric Lamont Bates, 20. The men are being held on suspicion of aggravated robbery and kidnapping.

The robbery occurred Saturday at Rite Aid, 1915 Central Ave. and the arrests were made last night, according to the police department’s Facebook page.

Dispatchers said they could not give any further details but the Facebook post said in part:

“These arrests happened with great teamwork by our patrol officers and the Rite Aid employees who stayed calm and gave great descriptions to our dispatch center. These robberies and thefts of prescription drugs are becoming common place all over the tri-state area. Indiana is being saturated with them and Ohio is slowly catching up. Be aware of your surroundings, always.”

Police: Florida man’s fight with girlfriend causes neighborhood power outage

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017 @ 3:09 PM

Milian
Miami Dade County Sheriff's Office

A man in Hialeah who got into an argument with his girlfriend ended up causing a power outage in the neighborhood, police said. 

The outage happened when Angel Milian, 18, set his girlfriend’s purse on fire and threw it over a gate at his house, WPLG reports.

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Florida man accused of killing roommate’s baby 

Firefighters said the purse set a $3,000 palm tree on fire, and the flames spread to a Florida Power & Light electrical box, according to WPLG. 

Hialeah police arrested Milian when the girlfriend showed officers a recorded video of him lighting her purse on fire. He was taken to the county jail and faces a second-degree charge of arson. 

Read more at local10.com.

Police: Man cuts girlfriend's betta fish in half during fight

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017 @ 3:44 PM

betta fish Aquarian fish swims in aquarium water
NatalyaAksenova/Getty Images/iStockphoto

A domestic dispute in Connecticut ended with significant property damage, including a woman's betta fish being cut in half.

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The incident took place Thursday, according to the New Britain Herald. Police responded to a domestic disturbance call, where a woman, who was not identified, said her boyfriend, Juan Vega, 33, showed up at her home unexpectedly and began arguing with her. During the argument, the woman claims Vega pushed her. He also kicked a TV, breaking it, and cut a betta fish in half, police noted.

Vega gathered his belongings and left the premises, according to the police report.

Police tracked down Vega, who was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals and second-degree breach of peace, according to the New Britain Herald. Police said Vega admitted to damaging property and killing his girlfriend's fish.