Prison for Dayton pastor, wife in foster son’s death

Published: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 @ 4:00 PM
Updated: Friday, May 05, 2017 @ 9:02 AM

Torace Weaver sentenced

UPDATE @ 11:19 a.m. (May 5)

Torace Weaver was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison.

UPDATE @ 11:11 a.m. (May 5)

Shureka Weaver was sentenced to 36 months in prison with 18 days jail credit.

UPDATE @ 10 a.m. (May 5)

Prosecutors called for maximum and consecutive sentences for Torace Weaver, which they calculated at 18 years to life.

“The 20 separate blunt force injuries to Stanley’s head, face and neck, in conjunction with the disfiguring burns to his arm and buttock, and the fatal injury to the back of his skull represent a depraved disregard for the life of a child that needed the care, protection and support that this Defendant, as his foster father, was supposed to provide,” wrote assistant prosecutor Kelly Madzey. “Nothing less than a severe sentence is warranted in this case.”

 Madzey asked for a three-year sentence for Shureka Weaver.

A jury says Torace Weaver killed his two-year-old foster son.

 “She, whether for status or financial gain, posed as a place of refuge for a child in need of her care, protection and support,” Madzey wrote. “But when that child suffered two separate, horrific burns to large areas of his body, this Defendant not only failed to seek medical attention or care for Stanley’s injuries, but worked to conceal his injuries from his caseworkers and then lied about it to investigating detectives.” 

UPDATE @ 8:59 a.m. (May 5)

A sentencing hearing for Torace Weaver, 38, is scheduled for today.

In April, Weaver, a Dayton pastor, was convicted on murder and other charges related to the death of his 2-year-old foster son Stanley Karl Thomas III.

Weaver’s wife Shureka was convicted on child endangerment and obstructing official business charges.

UPDATE @ 9:05 p.m. (April 20)

A Dayton pastor accused of killing his 2-year-old foster son was found guilty tonight as charged by a Montgomery County jury.

Torace Weaver, 38, was indicted on counts of murder, reckless homicide, involuntary manslaughter, felonious assault, endangering children and obstructing official business. His wife, Shureka, 40, was indicted on one count of endangering children, a third-degree felony. She also was found guilty as charged by jurors during their trial.

The couple’s foster son, Stanley Karl Thomas III, was fatally injured November 2015 at the King of Glory Worship Center on Genesee Avenue in Dayton.

Montgomery County Assistant Prosecutor John Amos spoke after the verdict was reached.

“This was a very emotional case ... for a lot of people,” he said. “Without any witnesses to this case, it really was a medical case.”

Prosecutors said the foster child suffered a fractured skull, bruises, scars and burns. Initially, Weaver told police the boy fell off a table. Later, he said they had been playing “Superman” when the 2-year-old slipped and hit a wall.

“There’s no doubt he was abused. There’s no doubt he was assaulted violently,” Amos said.

The case against Shureka Weaver was largely because she did not seek medical attention for what were described as second-degree burns on the boy, prosecutors said.

Carl Norton, a superintendent for the Weavers’ church and several others, said what happened was an accident.

“The jury made a decision and that is something they will have to live with,” he said.

The Weavers, who were tried together, will be sentenced May 5.

UPDATE @ 7:31 p.m. (April 20) 

The Montgomery County Common Pleas jury is reporting that it has a verdict in the case against Torace and Shureka Weaver. 

RELATED: Pastor’s foster son had 20 head injuries and burn mark, autopsy shows

UPDATE @ 5:25 p.m. (April 20)

It’s now up to a jury to decide what’s next for the pastor accused of killing his 2-year-old foster son. Torace Weaver claims the 2015 death of Stanley Thomas was a terrible accident.

RELATED: Pastor accused of murder gave conflicting statements in 911 call

EARLIER REPORT (April 19)

Two-year-old Stanley Karl Thomas III died of a catastrophic skull fracture but had other internal and external injuries that were consistent with suspected abuse, a doctor said Wednesday in the Torace Weaver murder trial.

“The child had so many extensive injuries I can’t recall them all,” testified Dr. Lori Vavul-Roediger, a child abuse pediatrician and medical director for child advocacy at Dayton Children’s Hospital, adding that her opinion is that Stanley died of “fatal physical abuse.”

Jurors saw multiple videos of interrogations of Weaver, including that he explained how he was playing “Superman” with his 2-year-old foster son when his he lost his grip and Stanley’s head hit a concrete wall in November 2015.

In one span, Weaver changed his story from saying he was in the bathroom and heard a “thud” and came out to see Stanley face down on the floor to the Superman story.

Vavul-Roediger testified that neither scenario Weaver explained was plausible. She said the type of head injuries and hemorrhages Stanley had were more consistent with a fall from several stories or an automobile accident.

Weaver said he had hold of one arm and one foot, lost his balance and that’s when Stanley hit the wall and a shoe flew off another direction. At times in the video, Weaver cried and emotionally explained that it was an accident.

“I loved that little boy like my own son,” Weaver said.

EARLIER: Wife of foster father accused in child’s death now in custody

Weaver, 38, was indicted on counts of murder, reckless homicide, involuntary manslaughter, felonious assault, endangering children and obstructing official business.

Weaver’s wife, Shureka, 40, was indicted on one count of endangering children, a third-degree felony. In video of her interrogation, she told police she didn’t know how Stanley got the burn on his arm, but that she treated it with salve, hydrogen peroxide and wrapped it.

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Vavul-Roediger testified that the burns on Stanley’s arm were so extensive that they would have been classified as second-degree burns that would have been painful and require medical attention. The doctor also said hydrogen peroxide on such a wound may be painful and not promote healing.

The trial is scheduled to resume this morning in the courtroom of Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Mary Katherine Huffman.

Sheriff’s deputy arrested, accused of stealing cash, credit cards from crime scene

Published: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 @ 11:00 PM

An Orange County deputy was arrested on allegations he stole cash, credit cards and a wallet from a crime scene.
WFTV.com
An Orange County deputy was arrested on allegations he stole cash, credit cards and a wallet from a crime scene.(WFTV.com)

An Orange County deputy was arrested Tuesday on allegations he stole cash, credit cards and a wallet from a crime scene Sunday.

Deputies said the deputy, Joseph Haddad, responded to a burglary. The case evolved into a narcotics investigation in which the person who reported the burglary, Sammy Shehata, was arrested for allegedly possessing marijuana.

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Shehata asked deputies if he could gather his belongings and while doing so noticed his wallet, $1,750 and credit cards were missing.

Shehata said Haddad was inside the house when he went to retrieve his things.

“He even said, ‘Well, I don’t have it.’ It’s not like I asked him if he had it,” Shehata said.

An investigation was launched against Haddad, and Osceola County deputies discovered the cards had been used in their jurisdiction.

Shehata said that, when he got out jail, he had notifications from his bank that his credit cards had been used, so he reported it to the sheriff’s office.

Osceola County deputies assisted with the investigation, which led to Haddad’s arrest after a search of his home.

He was booked into the Osceola County Jail on a grand theft charge.

According to the charging affidavit, Haddad and his wife were seen on camera using Shehata’s cards at Target and Walmart in Osceola County.

The report said they bought a baby crib, baby monitor, clothing, household goods and other baby supplies.

When questioned, Haddad told investigators he accidentally took the wallet while processing evidence and that it wasn’t until he got to Target that he realized he was using someone else’s credit card.

Haddad was relieved of duty without pay and was stripped of his law enforcement authority.

He was hired by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in April 2016.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings released a statement about the incident Wednesday.

“The facts in this case are troubling to me. The Orange County Sheriff's Office is not a place for a liar or thief to work. I am committed to ensuring that such individuals are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and that they will be fired.”

No charges in Mason hot car baby death: Mom ‘made a horrible mistake’

Published: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 @ 11:18 AM
Updated: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 @ 7:19 PM

WATCH: Warren Co. prosecutor discusses charges in Mason baby death

No criminal charges will be filed in connection with Sofia Aveiro’s death on Aug. 23 after the 14-month-old girl was left for nine hours in her mother’s car in the parking lot of the P&G Mason Business Center.

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said he didn’t believe the potential charges matched the legal standard.

“The closest charge that might be applicable is involuntary manslaughter … and the closest felony is endangering children, where parents create a substantial risk,” he said Wednesday during a press conference to explain his decision. “However, in both of these, the mental state of a parent must be reckless.”

“Recklessness is more than a mistake, even if it’s a deadly mistake,” Fornshell said. “And there’s no evidence that she acted with heedless indifference.”

Evidence mother Karen Osorio-Martinez knew Sofia was in the car would have met the heedless indifference standard, Fornshell said.

Osorio-Martinez and her husband still must live with the realization that her negligence caused the toddler’s death from hyperthermia, Fornshell added.

“There’s nothing any law is going to do more than they are going to punish themselves for the rest of their lives,” he said.

MORE: ‘She was adorable’: Neighbor recalls Mason baby left in mom’s hot car

Osorio-Martinez left their Mason home with Sofia, intending to drop her at day care, but forgot and drove to work at the corporate complex on Mason-Montgomery Road, arriving about 7:30 a.m.

Leaving work, she was walking to the car when her husband, Henrique Aveiro, called to alert her that Sofia was not at day care when he went to pick her up. The mother realized their only child had been left strapped into her car seat.

Osorio-Martinez called 911 about 5 p.m., and the child was pronounced dead after emergency workers arrived.

RELATED: Butler County nurse invents iPhone app to prevent hot-car deaths

Prosecutors found her actions failed to meet the legal standard for involuntary manslaughter or child endangering.

Both charges required more than negligence, Fornshell said.

“There is no doubt Sofia’s mother made a horrible mistake,” Fornshell said.” We found no evidence that the mother acted with heedless indifference.”

Fornshell said he talked with the parents on Wednesday morning and detected a “mild amount of relief.”

Osorio-Martinez, a native of Puerto Rico, was also upset having lost contact with family as hurricanes pummeled the island.

“This was something that was weighing heavily on her,” Fornshell said.

“They are extraordinarily emotional,” he added.

The parents could not be reached for comment, but P&G issued a brief statement.

RELATED: Federal law change could mandate warning systems to prevent hot car deaths

“We are continuing to support the family through this difficult time. We do not have additional information to share,” Tressie Rose of P&G Company Communications said via email. “We also do not have a statement from the family to pass along.”

Neither P&G nor Fornshell elaborated on his comments that the parents planned to work with the company to prevent other babies from dying in hot cars.

Police conducted an investigation, seizing her cell phone and car, as well as a shopping bag and purse-style bag to check for “any medications or illegal narcotics that could show an altered mental state of Karen Osorio-Martinez.”

On Wednesday, Fornshell said they also watched more than eight hours of surveillance video from the parking lot.

A search warrant affidavit filed by Mason police indicated Osorio-Martinez left Sofia inside her 2011 Nissan Cube for about nine hours. The rear-facing car seat was located in the back of the vehicle behind the driver’s seat, according to court records.

EARLY REPORT: Mason mother was running late in child’s hot car death

“Upon speaking with Ms. Osorio-Martinez, she advised that she was running late to work and usually drops Sofia off at daycare. It was also determined that Sofia’s father, Aveiro, attempted to pick up Sofia up at daycare and was advised she was not there, so he contacted his wife as she was leaving work,” the affidavit said.

On Wednesday, Fornshell said Osorio-Martinez wasn’t actually late, but was later than usual, after letting her daughter sleep in and working from home before heading toward the day care center.

MORE: Mason child left in vehicle for more than 10 hours

Fornshell said he sided with Ohio lawmakers who had considered toughening the law, but left the reckless disregard standard.

He questioned if Ohioans wanted to “criminalize negligence.”

Fornshell said most parents have been guilty of negligence on occasion, sometimes resulting in harm to their kids.

“Are we going to criminalize every time a child gets hurt?” he concluded.

New vehicles would be outfitted with a warning system to help prevent children from dying in hot cars under legislation passed with bipartisan support this month in the U.S. House.

If the bill becomes law, drivers turning off their cars would be reminded by an alarm to check the back seat for children. Thirty-nine children died of heat stroke, and one died of hypothermia, in cars in the U.S. last year, according to KidsAndCars.org, a group that tracks such deaths.

Judge revokes probation, orders teen to serve at least a year for role in Ronnie Bowers’ death

Published: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 @ 5:21 PM

Judge revokes probation, orders teen to serve at least a year for role in Ronnie Bowers’ death

A 15-year-old who violated probation the day he was released from a juvenile facility now must serve at least one year behind bars for his role in the shooting death last September of Ronnie Bowers in Kettering.

Malik Devon Harris in February pleaded guilty to one count of robbery, tampering with evidence and aggravated menacing in the 16-year-old Fairmont High School junior’s death. Today, his probation was revoked and Harris was sentenced to serve a year up to age 21 at the Department of Youth Services, according to the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office.

Releated: Murder indictment issued against Kylen Gregory in Ronnie Bowers’ death

Bowerswas fatally shot Sept. 4, 2016, after leaving AlterFest with a group of friends. One of his friends had an ongoing dispute with another group, and words were exchanged when they saw each other at the Alter High School festival. After Bowers and his friends left AlterFest, they were trying to drive away. Harris and two other teens were with Kylen Gregory, who is accused of shooting at the back of Bowers’ car, hitting him. Bowers succumbed to his injuries two days later.

Related: Teens who testify against shooter get maximum sentences

Harris served seven months at the Center for Adolescent Services. He was released Sept. 5 and placed on probation with electronic home detention. He also was ordered not to use social media. However, the same day he used social media at home and his probation officer reported it, according to the prosecutor’s office.

“Obviously, this defendant did not appreciate the leniency he received when the judge granted him probation and did not act responsibly in violating the terms of his probation the very same day he was released,” Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. stated.

Woman pleads to lowest count in case involving 26 pounds of meth

Published: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 @ 6:31 AM
Updated: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 @ 3:46 PM


            Haley Bigelow
Haley Bigelow

UPDATE (3:25 p.m.)

Haley N. Bigelow pleaded and was found guilty Wednesday in Dayton’s U.S. District Court of interstate traveling to support a business enterprise involving controlled substances.

Bigelow, 21, is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 12 for a crime that carries a zero- to 5-year sentence. “Guilty,” Bigelow said when asked by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rose for how she pleaded to the lowest of three indicted counts.

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors dismissed counts of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine. Rose said a pre-sentence report will be compiled.

RELATED: 26 pounds of meth found in vehicle on I-70

Defense attorney Aaron Durden said his client may qualify for a “safety valve” provision in federal sentencings.

That definition is for low-level participants in drug cases in which no one was harmed, the person has little or no criminal history, the person did not use violence or a gun and the person did tell the prosecution everything they knew about the offense, according to the Families Against Mandatory Minimums website.

Assistant U.S. attorney Laura Clemmens read a summary of the statement of facts, which indicated Bigelow was recruited to drive from Arizona to Ohio for redistribution. Law enforcement said they seized 26 pounds of methamphetamine from a car occupied by Bigelow and co-defendant Dennis Olinger.

Bigelow also admitted to bond violations for testing positive for drugs three times. Rose ordered Bigelow to take part in a 7-day detox and 28-day in-patient program.

RELATED: DEA used GPS tracker to arrest suspected local drug trafficker

Rose said it was a glass half full or half empty situation.

“If you do mess up, you will be in jail that fast,” the judge said, snapping his fingers.

After Bigelow’s hearing, co-defendant Waiman Yu was granted a continuance of his trial, which was to begin Sept. 25.

Instead, the date was pushed back to Nov. 13 to allow for a possible resolution.

(ORIGINAL STORY)

A 20-year-old woman federally indicted on three counts related to law enforcement finding 26 pounds of methamphetamine in a vehicle is scheduled to change her plea today.

Haley N. Bigelow and co-defendant Waiman Yu were to go to trial Sept. 25 in Dayton’s U.S. District Court.

But Bigelow now is scheduled to appear for a change of plea, while Yu is scheduled for a meeting hearing, both today.

MORE: Read other stories from Mark Gokavi

In a motion to continue, Yu’s attorney wrote that plea negotiations are ongoing, but likely wouldn’t be completed before trial.

Another co-defendant, Dennis Olinger, pleaded guilty of knowingly and intentionally possessing with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine. Olinger is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 12.

Olinger, 40, and Bigelow were charged after a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency task force wrote in a criminal complaint that the two were stopped on Interstate 70 after speeding.

Assistant U.S. attorney Brent Tabacchi has said 26 pounds of meth could have a street value of nearly $400,000, though prosecutors say values vary greatly depending on several criteria.

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The criminal complaint said that after the Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper stopped the blue Volkswagen Passat in the eastbound lane of the highway in Preble County, Olinger could not provide a driver’s license.

Olinger said he and Bigelow, whom he identified as his girlfriend, were on their way back from a fair in Missouri, according to the complaint.

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The DEA officer wrote that Bigelow could not provide Olinger’s name to the trooper and that she said they were just friends.

Within two “traps” or hidden compartments in the car, the officer wrote, troopers found 26 pounds of crystal methamphetamine and also located about $2,000 in Bigelow’s purse.

Yu, 39, was arrested July 17 after the DEA put a GPS tracking device on his car and stopped him with drugs in his Hyundai Elantra, according to a federal search warrant affidavit and return. Yu had been driving the Passat before Olinger and Bigelow were stopped in it.