Jesse Whitaker guilty in 2015 alcohol-related case

Published: Wednesday, March 18, 2015 @ 4:28 PM
Updated: Tuesday, October 13, 2015 @ 8:36 PM


            A man convicted nearly three years ago of killing three teens in a car accident was arrested Tuesday night for driving drunk, officials said Wednesday morning.
A man convicted nearly three years ago of killing three teens in a car accident was arrested Tuesday night for driving drunk, officials said Wednesday morning.

UPDATE @ 4:54 p.m. (Oct. 13): Jesse Whitaker entered a guilty plea in Fairborn Municipal Court to one count of operating a motor vehicle under the influence and one count of possession and consumption while operating a motor vehicle.

He has been sentenced as follows:

 *  Twenty-eight days in jail followed by 30 days on house arrest that includes an alcohol monitor.
 *  Three years of supervised community control to include drug and alcohol treatment and a $450 fine.
 *  The judge is allowing work release, which means Whitaker is to report to the Xenia City Jail on Oct. 28.
 *  His driver's license has been suspended for two years, retroactive to March 17 (the day of the charge).
 *  Whitaker will have no driving privileges until he shows proof of insurance.
 *  On the possession charge, the sentence is to run concurrently with his OVI conviction, plus a $100 fine.

 * Whitaker also pleaded guilty to one count of falsification.
 * Two other charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement. according to court record.

UPDATE @ 4:15 p.m. (May 5)

A judge has modified Jesse Whitaker’s bond to include requiring him to wear an alcohol monitoring device.

Fairborn Municipal Judge Beth Root gave the order during a hearing and noted that Whitaker will be required to wear the device until the court decides otherwise. If Whitaker consumes alcohol while wearing the device, he could be fined or sent to jail, according to the court.

UPDATE @ 8:58 p.m. (April 11)

A 20-year-old man convicted in a fatal crash was arrested this morning on an alcohol-related charge less than a month after he was arrested in an OVI crash.

Jesse Whitaker, 20, was arrested at 4:10 a.m. by University of Dayton police for alleged underage alcohol consumption. He was booked into the Montgomery County Jail at 4:37 a.m. and was released at 11:30 a.m., according to jail staff.

A UD spokeswoman said the university doesn’t release police reports.

Whitaker is scheduled to appear Monday in court, according to jail records.

The former Bellbrook High School student in 2012 crashed a pickup truck he was driving and killed three teen girls who were riding in his vehicle. He was 17 at the time. Speed, not alcohol, was a factor in the fatal crash that claimed his Bellbrook classmates, officials said.

Whitaker last year pleaded guilty in the vehicular manslaughter case, and was sentenced to two years probation; 300 hours of community service; and his driver’s license was suspended until he is 21.

He was arrested March 17 in Beavercreek for alleged drunken driving after he crashed his vehicle into a guardrail on the ramp from west U.S. 35 to north Interstate 675, according to Beavercreek police. Neither he nor his passenger were hurt.

He has a pretrial hearing June 1 in Fairborn Municipal Court on the misdemeanor charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Also following his arrest last month, Whitaker faces misdemeanor charges of driving under suspension, failure to control, falsification for providing his brother’s birthdate and consuming alcohol under age 21, court records show.

FIRST REPORT

A man convicted nearly three years ago of killing three teens in a car accident was arrested Tuesday night, March 17, for driving drunk, officials said Wednesday morning.

Jesse Whitaker, 20, reportedly crashed his car on the ramp from westbound U.S. route 35 to Interstate 675 north, striking the guardrail. Neither he nor his passenger was injured.

Whitaker, a former Bellbrook High School student, was given a field sobriety test before he was arrested, said Beavercreek police Capt. Eric Grile, who is in charge of the crash investigation. Grile noted that Whitaker refused to take a Breathalyzer test.

In 2012, Whitaker was convicted after the pickup truck he was driving crashed and killed three teen girls who were riding in the vehicle. He was 17 at the time.

The victims, Julianna Hawk, 14; Sophie Kerrigan, 17; and Skylar Kooken, 16, were riding inside the extended cab of the pickup truck. They were traveling on Wagner Road near Oleva Drive after midnight when the vehicle crashed into a tree. Two other students were injured.

Speed, not alcohol, was a factor in the crash, officials said. Whitaker pleaded guilty in April 2014 and sentenced to two years probation, 300 hours of community service and his license was suspended until age 21.

“Obviously, it’s disturbing that anyone’s out, operating under the influence. But it happens,” Grile said. “We’re not naive enough to think that it doesn’t. We’re fortunate in this case that it was a single vehicle crash, that he didn’t hurt himself or his passenger.

“Based on his past, one would hope that he would learn some lessons from the previous crash,” Grile continued. “Obviously, his behavior last night would indicate that he has not.”

Whitaker’s 2012 case was transferred to Franklin County when he moved to Columbus.

He now faces misdemeanor charges of DUI, driving under suspension, failure to control, falsification for providing his brother’s birthdate and consuming under the age of 21.

“He does not see the severity of the actions of driving under the influence of alcohol,” said Grile. “It’s really the fact that he was driving, and after his history, that one would expect that his behavior would have changed, and it’s disappointing to find out that it did not.”

Whitaker appeared in court Wednesday, but was released on his own recognizance. His next court appearance is scheduled for March 24.

Alternate juror joins deliberations in Miami County child rape case

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 1:05 PM
Updated: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 11:15 AM


            Charles Hiser, right, seated at the defense table in Miami County Common Pleas Court earlier this year. STEVE BAKER/STAFF
Charles Hiser, right, seated at the defense table in Miami County Common Pleas Court earlier this year. STEVE BAKER/STAFF

A Miami County jury was told this morning it would have to start deliberations over in the child rape trial of Charles Hiser of Troy after they were interrupted by a family emergency of a juror who was replaced by an alternate juror.

The juror left the deliberations and Judge Christopher Gee told the 11 remaining jurors attempts were being made to contact an alternate juror to join the deliberations. The jury had deliberated 4.5 hours Thursday and around 90 minutes today.

The alternate juror was located at work and arrived at court to join deliberations around 10:30 a.m.

Gee, calling the situation “very unusual,” said deliberations would have to start over.

“Because the law says you are to decide as a group, you must start your deliberations from scratch,” Gee said.

Gee earlier had told the 11 remaining jurors in Common Pleas Court they could not deliberate further until an alternate joined them.

EARLIER: Mistrial declared in case against man accused of child rape

“I know it is going to be frustrating for all of you to retire to the jury room and not be able to do the work you are here for,” Gee said.

Three alternate jurors had been seated in the event a problem arose with one or more of the 12 jurors who weree to decide the case. The alternate jurors were dismissed before deliberations began.

Hiser, 37, faces eight felony rape charges for alleged sexual contact and sexual conduct with a person under age 10 and then under age 13 between February 2012 and late 2016 in Piqua and Troy. He is being held on $550,000 bail.

A trial in October ended in a mistrial after some jurors said they had seen or heard about media accounts of the case.

Jurors, in a written question sent to Gee after around 3.5 hours of deliberations Thursday, asked what would happen if they were unable to agree. They were told there was no specific time line for deliberations and the focus should be on trying to reach a verdict, if possible.

One defense witness, Hiser’s wife, testified earlier Thursday before closing arguments and deliberations. Stacy Hiser testified she did not observe anything inappropriate or suspicious about her husband.

EARLIER: Victim says sex abuse happened more times than she could count

In closing statements, Janna Parker, assistant county prosecutor, said the girl may have said she assumed why the sexual acts began and could not provide specific dates and times for alleged c acts, but that is not unusual for sexual assault victims.

“There were no assumptions as to what happened between her and the defendant. She was very clear it happened too many times to count,” Parker said.

Public defender Steve Layman said there was not an objective fact finding process followed in the investigation by police, who he argued displayed a lack of effort.

“Charles was assumed guilty from moment of disclosure. Why didn’t they dig deeper?” Layman said.

He questioned why corroborating evidence was not sought about allegations that he said could have been fabricated.

Parker said the girl’s account, if believed by the jury, told the story. “She is worth listening to,” she said.

The Christmas Killings: Dayton’s worst crime spree

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 5:30 PM

The Christmas Killings: Dayton’s worst crime spree

In December, 1992, downtown Dayton was filled with holiday decorations and activities. There was the Christmas tree lighting on Courthouse Square and across the street, the Dayton Arcade had reopened temporarily with pop-up shops and eateries for the holiday season. As people shopped and celebrated, they would have never imaged what was about to happen.

A band of teenagers were looking for trouble. Laura Taylor, Marvallous Keene, Heather Matthews and Demarcus Smith called themselves "The Downtown Posse." They were estranged from their families and looking for trouble. 

>> MAP AND TIMELINE: The notorious ‘Christmas killings’ of 1992

"Let's get some drama in our lives," Taylor, a 16-year-old runaway, said to the group. 

On Christmas Eve, they began the worst crime spree in Dayton history. The first victim was Joseph Wilkerson. The girls lured their way into his Prescott Avenue home promising sex, and the 34-year old General Motors worker was shot and killed. The posse then partied in Wilkerson's house over the next three days. They ate his food and drove his cars while he lay dead in a bedroom. 

>> PHOTOS: Infamous killing spree shook the community 25 years ago

That same night, they shot Danita Gullette, 18, who was using a pay phone outside a neighborhood market in West Dayton. She was pronounced dead at the hospital. Police said Gullette was robbed of her gym shoes, jacket and book bag. 

"All she said was, 'Don't shoot me' and they shot her anyway," said Rhonda Gullette, the victim's sister. "She gave them everything that she had. I just wish that they would have spared my sister." 

Danita Gullette, 18, was killed while she stood at a pay phone on Neal Avenue in 1992. Her murder was part of a spree over the Christmas holiday weekend in Dayton that left 6 dead and injured two. COURTESY OF GULLETTE FAMILY

On Christmas day, the body of 19-year-old Richard Maddox was discovered in a car. He had been shot in the head. Detectives later found out that Maddox was the former boyfriend of Laura Taylor. Jeffrey Wright was also shot that day outside a home on Yuma Place. Despite, 4 bullets, he survived. 

The posse went into the Short Stop Mini Mart on December 26, and shot Sarah Abraham who was working in a family business that holiday weekend. The 38-year-old mother died 5 days later in the hospital. A store customer who was shot, Jones Pettus, survived . 

At first, Dayton homicide detectives did not know that these crimes were all connected. 

"Really the first thing that made the connection for us was the ammunition," said retired Dayton Homicide Detective Doyle Burke. "Then you start to worry and you figure out that we've got a person or persons that are probably not going to stop." 

Burke said they had no idea who they were looking for. 

"The fact that it was truly stranger on stranger crime, which is the most difficult homicide to solve…there was not even a motive," Burke said. 

Later on December 26, former Dayton Police Sgt. John Huber, spotted a stolen car on Kumler Avenue. At the time, he did not know that he was stopping Dayton's spree killers. 

"They all cooperated and put their hands up. I was later to find out from the detectives that Laura Taylor told Marvallous Keene to shoot me and he wouldn't.," said Huber. 

After the four members of the posse were behind bars, Taylor got a visit from a local minister who was concerned that she was only sixteen and accused of such terrible crimes. During their visit, Taylor told him about two more victims. Police found the bodies of Wendy Cottrill, 16 and Marvin Washington, 19, in a city-owned gravel pit on Richley Avenue. Taylor said they were shot because the group thought that they would snitch to the police. 

Keene confessed and was sentenced to death. After 17 years of appeals, he was executed in 2009. The other three got life prison sentences. During a prison interview in 2000, Heather Matthews explained why she got into in the crime spree. 

"I wanted to be like them. I wanted to do what they was doing," Matthews said. 

Detective Burke said that once the killing started, he believes they were all willing participants. 

"They enjoyed it. They lived it. It made them somebody," Burke said. 

Rhonda Gullette admits that even after 25 years, the holidays are very difficult. 

"I grieve for my family but I continue to grieve for the other victim's families and also the people who are incarcerated," said Gullette. "Anybody's life can either go to the left or the right, so I do, I think about them very often." 

Gullette said the murder of her sister had a huge impact on her life. The crime led to the break-up of her engagement, the loss of a child and her mother. 

"Six years later my mother passed away prematurely," said Gullette. "My mother passed away at 51-year's old and she passed away because of grief. My mother absolutely died of a broken heart." 

Gullette is now an advocate for victim's rights and is working on her master's degree. She said she gets through the holidays by serving her church and feeding the homeless. 

John Huber, retired from the Dayton Police Department, is the Public Safety Director at Sinclair Community College. Doyle Burke is Chief Investigator for the Warren County Coroner and has written a book about the homicide cases that he has investigated, including this one. 

A book called, "The Christmas Killings," was written by retired Dayton Police Officer Steve Grismer, Detective Dennis Murphy and Dr. Judith Monseur. Both books will be published early next year.

Kettering murder case: 3 to testify about Fairmont teen’s killing

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 6:44 AM

Friends gathered in Oak Park Monday night.

Three people believed to be in the car driven by a Fairmont High School student last year when he was fatally shot are being ordered to testify against the 17-year-old facing murder charges in adult court.

Subpoenas have been issued for one teenage male and two teen females who court witnesses have said were in Ronnie Bowers’ car when the 16-year-old was shot while fleeing a confrontation on Willowdale Avenue Sept. 4, 2016, shortly after AlterFest.

RELATED: Judge restricts media access in Kettering homicide case

Kylen Gregory of Kettering faces murder charges in the holiday weekend shooting of Bowers, whose death two days later from a gunshot wound to the head was ruled a homicide, Montgomery County Coroner’s Office staff have testified.

Kettering’s first gun-related homicide since 2007 resulted in Gregory being indicted in August on two counts of murder, four counts of felonious assault with a deadly weapon and two related charges, court records show.

RELATED: How Kettering 17-year-old came to be tried as adult

The next court date is set for Dec. 28, when the subpoenaed Kettering teens who were with Bowers are scheduled to testify, court records show.

Gregory is being held in Montgomery County juvenile detention on a $1 million bond.

RELATED: 3 Supreme Court rulings on local cases alter fates of juveniles statewide

-MORE COVERAGE OF THE CASE:

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RELATED: Key points in homicide of Fairmont student

RELATED: Kettering teen indicted on adult charges in homicide of Fairmont student

RELATED: Prosecutor seeks mandatory transfer to adult court

RELATED: 2 teens strike plea deal to testify in Kettering homicide

RELATED: Two teens sentenced for role in Kettering homicide of Fairmont student

Woman evicted days before her 94th birthday, jailed when she refuses to leave, police say

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 9:21 AM

Woman Evicted and Jailed Days Before Her 94th Birthday, Police Say

93-year-old Eustis woman was in jail Wednesday night after being arrested for allegedly refusing to leave her home at National Church Residences’ Franklin House after being evicted, police said.

>> Read more trending news

Juanita Fitzgerald was jailed just days before her 94th birthday on Friday.

According to a Eustis Police Department arrest report, Fitzgerald had been “made well aware the day prior of her being evicted (Tuesday).”

She was being evicted after falling behind on her rent, police said.

When officers arrived at the senior living facility in the 2400 block of Kurt Street, Fitzgerald was in the lobby.

“After several times telling Juanita to get her belongings and leave, she refused officers’ commands and stated, ‘Unless you carry me out of here, I’m not going anywhere,’” the report said.

Fitzgerald was warned that she would be arrested if she did not leave, but continued to refuse to move.

“Juanita still did not listen and refused to leave, stating again to ‘carry me out of here,’” the report said.

The 5-foot-tall, 100-pound woman purposefully slid onto the floor as officers tried to escort her from the building and allegedly resisted officers’ attempts to lift her up, investigators said.

Fitzgerald was eventually escorted to an officer’s patrol vehicle and taken to the Lake County Jail.

The officer noted that due to her age and possibility of injury, Fitzgerald was not handcuffed.

The Eustice police report said that Franklin House staff offered to help her move, but she refused.

She also refused assistance from the Department of Children and Families, The Homeless Coalition, Department of Elder Affairs and eight other agencies, officers said.

Fitzgerald was being held at the Lake County Jail in lieu of a $500 bond on a charge of trespassing.