Death penalty upheld for man in Fairfield murder, killing of witness

Published: Tuesday, September 13, 2016 @ 12:20 PM

            Calvin McKelton, right, talks with his attorney Greg Howard during trial proceedings in 2010 in Butler County Common Pleas Court in Hamilton, Ohio. McKelton is accused of killing Missy Allen, a Fairfield attorney, as well as a witness. FILE PHOTO/STAFF
            Staff photo by Nick Daggy
Calvin McKelton, right, talks with his attorney Greg Howard during trial proceedings in 2010 in Butler County Common Pleas Court in Hamilton, Ohio. McKelton is accused of killing Missy Allen, a Fairfield attorney, as well as a witness. FILE PHOTO/STAFF(Staff photo by Nick Daggy)

The death penalty for a Cincinnati man convicted of killing a Fairfield attorney and a witness to her fatal strangulation has been upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court.

In 2010, Calvin McKelton, now 39, was convicted of the 2008 murder of Margaret “Missy” Allen, his girlfriend and criminal defense attorney who previously represented him, and of the 2009 murder of Germaine “Mick” Evans. McKelton received the death penalty after being convicted of the specification that he murdered Evans to prevent his testimony at trial.

Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger wrote the majority opinion finding evidence showed that McKelton was properly convicted of murdering a friend who helped him cover up a murder and that the aggravating circumstances supporting the death penalty outweighed the mitigating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice William M. O’Neill wrote that McKelton’s death sentence should be dismissed and that he should receive a new mitigation hearing because his attorneys did not hire a mitigation expert to present McKelton’s case for sentencing him to life in prison.

According to facts of the case, Allen’s body was found July 27, 2008, in a wooded area of Schmidt Field Park in Cincinnati. The Hamilton County Coroner’s Office ruled the 37-year-old died of asphyxiation by strangulation.

A piece of plastic resembling a shower-curtain liner was around Allen’s thighs and a bag of counterfeit drugs lay near her body. A coroner’s report found that she died from strangulation, and when police searched her home, they found a long piece of weed-cutter cord on the floor. The shower curtain was on a hallway floor with no sign of a liner.

Allen was last seen July 24, 2008, by her childhood friend and law partner Rodney Harris, three days before her body was found in a decomposed state. Then Hamilton County coroner’s Coroner Dr. O’Dell Owens said he relied on dental records, tattoos and surgical scars to determine the body’s identity.

McKelton was living with Allen and her two nieces at the time of her death, and the girls testified the couple had physically violent arguments. Allen also kept a handwritten notebook and a computer document that chronicled her physical abuse.

Fairfield police interviewed McKelton, who refused to answer most of their questions, and they took fingerprints, DNA samples and fingernail scrapings. The DNA samples were not consistent with the DNA collected from Allen’s fingernails.

Months later, police learned that Evans was a possible eyewitness. A friend of Evans testified that Evans told him he was at Allen’s house when he heard Allen and McKelton fighting in another room and then saw McKelton choking Allen. When she became unresponsive, the men tried to stage a robbery scene and set fire to the house. The two then wrapped up Allen’s body and drove to a wooded area to dispose of it.

Evans’ body was later found in a city park, and a coroner’s report determined that he was killed with a single gunshot wound to the back of the head, possibly two or three days earlier.

Along with friends of Evans, three informants charged with other offenses testified that McKelton admitted to the murders.

The defense did not present any witnesses during the first phase of the trial, and the jury convicted McKelton of all but the charge of intimidation of a witness.

After the mitigation stage and the jury recommendation, the trial court sentenced McKelton to death for the aggravated murder of Evans, 15 years to life in prison for the murder of Allen, and 25 years for the remaining convictions.

McKelton appealed his conviction and sentence, claiming his state and U.S. constitution rights were violated because he was deprived of a fair trial. He maintained the violations included the state’s nondisclosure of eight witnesses until the evening before the trial, which left his defense attorneys unprepared for effective cross-examination. He also argued that his counsel provided ineffective assistance during the trial and mitigation stages.

The majority of the supreme court justices disagreed, and MeKelton’s conviction as well as sentence has been upheld.

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Tipp City: Middle school student made threats against 2 adults, building

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 5:08 PM

The Tipp City Exempted Village Schools said Thursday that a middle school student faces misdemeanor charges including aggravated menacing and disorderly conduct after he allegedly made written comments threatening intent to harm two adults within the building and to cause building destruction. 

Tipp City police were notified and are investigating the incident. There were no injuries. 

“The Tipp City Police Department does not deem the student to be an immediate threat to students, staff, or the community,” Superintendent Gretta Kumpf said in a written statement.

Kumpf said the district emphasized the police were confident there is no additional threat of harm from the incident. She said the student will remain out of school during the investigation. 

Police said the threats were found in a classroom, turned over to administrators and a suspect identified. The juvenile admitted to writing the threats, police stated.

Police said charges were filed after contact with Miami County prosecutors. The student is charged with two counts of aggravated menacing and one count of disorderly conduct.

The student, a boy, is with parents but that could change, police said Thursday evening.

Parents were notified of the threats via a phone call, Liz Robbins, district community relations director, said.

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John Crawford shooting: Beavercreek wants separate trial from Walmart

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 10:57 AM
Updated: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 10:57 AM

John Crawford shooting: Beavercreek wants separate trial from Walmart

The wrongful death civil rights lawsuit brought by John Crawford III’s parents against Beavercreek and Walmart has been scheduled for a February 2019 trial date, according to federal court records.

But the case could be split into two trials, if a federal judge grants a motion from the city of Beavercreek to separate the defendants.

RELATED: Deposition: Williams shot Crawford because he ‘was about to’ point a weapon

Dayton’s U.S. District Court Judge Walter Rice scheduled the trial for Feb. 4, 2019 — a day shy of 4½ years after Crawford, 22, of Fairfield, was shot and killed by Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams in Walmart.

Beavercreek police responded after lone 911 caller Ronald Ritchie said he saw a black man carrying a rifle and waving it at people, including children. Police said Crawford, who was on his cell phone, didn’t respond to requests by Williams and Sgt. David Darkow to drop the item — a realistic-looking BB/pellet rifle he picked up from an open box in the store.

RELATED: Beavercreek officer who shot John Crawford III back on ‘full duty’

Crawford’s attorneys said Crawford had less than a second to hear and respond to anything officers said. Williams was cleared by a Greene County special grand jury in September 2014, and a federal investigation ended in 2017 without criminal charges.

Beavercreek attorneys filed a motion to split the case. They argued that the Beavercreek defendants are facing civil rights allegations such as excessive force, the police department’s supervision, training and control of its officers in circumstances requiring the use of force.

RELATED: Feds won’t charge Beavercreek officer in Walmart shooting

The Beavercreek attorneys said the Walmart defendants face state law claims involving issues of negligence and premises liability concerning the packaging, storage, shelving and safeguarding of pellet rifles.

“Due to the vastly different sets of facts supporting the claims against these sets of Defendants,” Beavercreek attorneys wrote, “severance of the claims and separate trials are appropriate.”

Rice has not ruled on the motion.

MORE: Read other stories from Mark Gokavi

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Sex offenders on college campuses

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 4:05 PM

Sex offenders on college campuses

An I-Team investigation has found local colleges and universities can accept convicted sex offenders as students but their classmates are unaware of those convictions. Daniel Schrand, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification officer for the Greene County Sheriff's Office, said offenders are required to notify the local sheriff of their status as a student. The official notification, though, ends there.

"The only person they have to tell is their local sheriff's office. If I have an offender who registers with me, his address, and goes to school in another county, he has to register the school with me and also the county that the school is in." 

RELATED: Pentagon often fails young sex assault victims on bases

According to Schrand, nothing in state law requires the school or the other students to be told. That lack of disclosure is a concern to some students, including Sinclair creative writing major Chris Fohl. He does understand why they would be allowed to be admitted. "That would speak a lot about Sinclair, second chances and all of that," Fohl said.

Sinclair spokesman Adam Murka said safety is the college's number one goal. For several years the school has had a specific policy on the conditions for enrollment for convicted sex offenders. "We understand we have an obligation to provide a safe learning environment and we have an obligation since we have a daycare here on campus," Murka said. Sinclair's Police Chief, John Huber, said there are restrictions on where a student with a sex-related conviction can travel on campus. "We do not allow them to be in classrooms with minors if that's a condition of their probation and parole. They are not to have classes in building nine which is where our daycare center is," Huber said. He added that Sinclair has not had a problem with any students with a conviction.

RELATED: U.S. passports will identify child sex offenders 

Schrand said he voluntarily notifies Sinclair, Wright State University and other schools if an offender who registers with him lists themselves as a student at a local college. While Schrand supports direct notification for the schools, he does not want to make it impossible for them to attend college. That way, Schrand says, they can get a job and turn their lives around.

Would students mind going to class with a convicted sex offender? Sinclair student Karissa Hammond said she would be cautious but not prohibit a person with a conviction from attending school. "They do deserve a second chance but it does not mean you have to be blind to it. It doesn't mean you cannot be cautious around people."

How many students with a conviction are attending local colleges and universities? The I-Team will break down the data and explore the policies of multiple schools as coverage of sex offenders on campus continues Sunday in the Dayton Daily News.

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Former corrections officer pleads guilty to having sex with inmate

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 3:46 PM

Former corrctions officer pleads guilty

Saying it was the “best course of action,” the attorney for a former Butler County corrections officer changed her plea today to guilty to one count of sexual battery, a third-degree felony.

Attorney Mike Allen, representing Nakisha Newell, said his client admitted she “made a mistake,” so she changed her plea to guilty.

RELATED: Fired officer accused of sex with inmate has hearing continued

Judge Greg Stephens said Newell faces five years in prison and a $10,000 fine and must register as a Tier III sex offender. Newell will be sentenced on May 17.

Stephens ordered a pre-sentence investigation to review the facts in the case, but he said a 24-month prison sentence is the “likely” starting point.

Newell, 28, a mother of four from Monroe, was arrested Nov. 27, 2017 after a day-long investigation by the sheriff’s office. She was indicted in December on two counts of sexual battery and illegal conveyance into a detention facility for allegedly having sex with a male inmate at the Hanover Street corrections facility.

For her guilty plea, one count of sexual battery and illegal conveyance were dismissed, Stephens said. She is free on $5,000 bond.

Allen had entered a not guilty plea on Newell’s behalf prior to today’s hearing. This news agency was the only one in the courtroom.

Newell, who was employed as a corrections officer for 18 months, is accused of having sex with an inmate between Oct. 14 and Nov. 24. She is also accused of delivering a white iPhone to the inmate while he was in jail.

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