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2 guilty in firefighter’s death: ‘While we were planning a funeral, they were gambling in Las Vegas’

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 1:55 PM

Lester Parker and William Tucker found guilty in Hamilton firefighter murder trial

Nearly two years after a fire killed a Hamilton firefighter, homeowner Lester Parker and his nephew, William Tucker, were convicted of aggravated arson and murder and sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after 15 years.

The jury of five women and seven men deliberated a little more than two hours before delivering the verdict Wednesday morning. The courtroom was packed with the family and fellow firefighters of Patrick Wolterman, who died on Dec. 28, 2015, when he fell through the floor of Parker’s burning home on Pater Avenue in Hamilton.

MORE: Tears, screams fill courtroom in Hamilton arson trial

Parker, 68, stood first with his attorney, David Washington, when the verdict was read. Then Tucker, 50, of Richmond, Ky., stood with his attorney, Tamara Sack. Neither defendant showed emotion when he heard the guilty verdicts.

Many in the courtroom cried, including Wolterman’s widow, Bre, and several family and friends. Parker’s wife, Bertha, and Tucker’s mother, Mae, also sobbed.

Parker was convicted of conspiring with Tucker to set his house on fire for insurance money and Tucker was convicted of setting the blaze for payment in pain pills.

Washington told Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Greg Stephens before sentencing: “It’s a sad day, but we respect the process.”

MORE: Hamilton homeowner, nephew take stand in firefighter murder trial

Sack also expressed a similar sentiment. “We respect the verdict,” she said. “It wasn’t an easy case by any means.”

Both defense attorneys indicated they would file appeals. Parker and Tucker declined to make a statement before sentencing.

Bre Wolterman told the judge she was 31 when firefighters knocked on her door two years ago and told her her  husband Patrick had fallen through the floor. They couldn’t tell her if he would live.

“We had been married not even seven months,” she told Judge Greg Stephens. “These two men robbed me of my whole future. They not only took my husband from me they took my life away. We didn’t even have children, they took that away. I ask you to impose the maximum sentence on them.”

MORE: Experts testify about ‘burner’ phones, Facebook messages in Hamilton arson trial

Patrick Wolterman’s mother, Debbie, also addressed the judge before sentencing.

“I wish I could asked for leniency, I can’t,” Debbie Wolterman said. “While we were planning a funeral, they were gambling in Las Vegas. They have shown no remorse. It think the only thing they are sorry about is that they got caught.”

Cheryl Sullivan, Parker’s daughter, testified during the trial that she drove her parents to the airport on Dec. 27, 2015, for the couple’s trip to Las Vegas. She testified that she noticed things missing from the house that had been there on Christmas Eve.

“Some things were moved around, some things not where they were supposed to be,” Sullivan said, adding that angel figurines had replaced family photos in the living room and a “butler” statue was gone.

Prosecutors say Parker packed up items he held dear, including pictures of his two daughters, and removed them from the house before the fire.

Sullivan testified that her father handed her four envelopes with bills in them, including the mortgage and insurance, and told her to “hold them.”

Before boarding the plane, Sullivan said her father called her and told her: “The important papers are in the garage if something happens.”

Weeks later, when her parents moved to another home in Hamilton, Sullivan said she found a bag that her parents had taken to Las Vegas and in it were several framed family photos, including those that she and her sister had noticed missing from the Pater Avenue home’s living room.

MORE: Daughter of man on trial in Hamilton firefighter death testifies about missing items

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser also addressed the judge before sentencing.

“This was never a case where the state of Ohio suggested there be payback or vengeance for Patrick Wolterman,” Gmoser said, referring to an argument made earlier by a defense attorney. “He is indeed an American hero. He went into that house with the full understanding in his mind that he was was going to save a life — or lives — of occupants. Unknown to him, they were in Las Vegas.”

Gmoser said Wolterman lost his life for a few “lousy, miserable pills by a couple drug dealers and for gain.”

While the men were each convicted of two arson charges for igniting the house and for causing serious physical harm in the act, by law they could only be sentenced for murder because the aggravated arson led to the murder.

MORE: Woman tells jury she gave ride to Hamilton arson suspect for $300 in pills

Judge Stephens then sentenced the men with the mandatory sentence required by law — life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years.

OVI check: Passenger zooms off in car, crashes as driver takes sobriety tests

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 10:47 PM

Dayton OVI crash

A passenger in a car detained at an OVI checkpoint Friday night hopped in the driver’s seat, took off and crashed into a pole while the driver was taking a sobriety test.

The driver was held for testing around 10 p.m. at a Montgomery County OVI Task Force check in the area of Salem and Hillcrest avenues in Dayton.

That’s when one of his two passengers got in the driver’s seat and drove off, Sgt. Matt Robinson of the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Dayton Post said.

The four-door sedan then crashed into a pole in the 3300 block of North Main Street. The car glanced off the pole into the middle of the street, blocking the southbound lanes of North Main Street, which was covered in debris.

The two occupants bailed and evaded capture. However, the detained driver provided police with their names.

Law enforcement that responded to the scene included the highway patrol, Dayton police and Montgomery County deputies.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com.

SPCA: Animal abuse calls spike in Clark County

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 7:59 PM

Rising number of local animal abuse calls

The SPCA averages a call a week for possible animal abuse cases. But in the last two weeks, there’s been almost nine times the number of cruelty complaints.

“As soon as the weather started changing it started getting cold and the phones have been ringing off the hook,” Krissi Hawke, director and animal cruelty officer for the Clark County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said.

The SPCA takes every call seriously to watch out for house pets and livestock.

>> Man first to be charged with felony animal abuse in Greene Co. after law change

The dogs at the shelter are mostly strays picked up by the dog warden. The shelter tries to reunite the pets with owners on Facebook.

“The biggest problem that we’re seeing right now are that they are being left outdoors. In the cold,” Hawke said.

Breeds with short coats are particularly susceptible to the elements, she said.

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“A lot of it is just educating the public on what’s proper and what’s not proper,” she said. “The best outcome would be for the animals to be kept in the home.”

Typically calls from community members are concerns about a lack of food, water and shelter for animals outdoors.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com.

2nd trial in Miami County child rape case ends in hung jury

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 1:05 PM
Updated: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 5:52 PM


            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

The second trial in the child rape case of Charles Hiser, 37, of Troy ended in a hung jury.

Jurors in Miami County Common Pleas Court sent a note to Judge Christopher Gee around 2:45 p.m. Friday saying they were unable to agree on a verdict. The jury foreman told the judge a short time later in court that additional deliberations would not likely end the disagreement.

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

Earlier Friday deliberations were interrupted by a family emergency of a juror who was replaced by an alternate juror. The jury deliberated 4½ hours Thursday followed by around six hours on Friday. They were told after the alternate juror arrived that deliberations needed to start from scratch.

Lawyers for the prosecution and defense declined comment after the hung jury was declared.

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.

Gee said a pretrial hearing will be held Wednesday, Dec. 20, to determine the next steps in the case.

Hiser will remain in jail in lieu of $550,000 bail.

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

Gee said he would consider a request for a reduced bond next week.

Public defender Steve Layman asked for reduced bail or a recognizance bond for Hiser, saying he had been jailed since Feb. 9. Layman said Hiser was willing to follow whatever conditions were set by the court. “It is difficult. He has been incarcerated quite some time.”

Janna Parker, assistant county prosecutor, opposed the request for reduced bail. She cited the “severe nature” of the allegations and the possible penalty faced by Hiser, if convicted.

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

Hiser is a registered sex offender following a 2007 conviction for misdemeanor sexual imposition. The jury was not permitted to hear that information.

In closing statements Thursday, Parker said the girl may have said she assumed why the sexual acts began and could not provide specific dates and times for the alleged 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.

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.

2 arrested, accused of Dayton porch package thefts

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 8:19 AM
Updated: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 5:30 PM

2 arrested after packages stolen off Dayton porches

UPDATE @ 5:30 p.m.:

One of two suspects arrested at 2500 John Glenn Road in Dayton is in the Montgomery County Jail.

Lawrence J. Pulaski(MONTGOMERY COUNTY JAIL)

Lawrence J. Pulaski, 55, was arrested at 2:50 p.m. and booked into jail on suspicion of five misdemeanor counts of receiving stolen property. He is schedule to appear Monday in Dayton Municipal Court.

UPDATE @ 3:54 p.m.:

Police said they’ve arrested two people they believe are involved in a series of package thefts from porches in East Dayton Thursday.

The suspect’s identities were not released, however officers tracked the men down after a person reported a suspicious vehicle in their neighborhood.

The two men were arrested on John Glenn Road in Dayton and police said they found packages in their vehicle.

Doorbell camera captures thieves stealing packages from Dayton porches

INITIAL REPORT

A bearded man in a red hooded sweatshirt is stealing packages off of porches in Dayton. 

The man struck around 5:10 p.m. Dec. 14 in the 1600 block of Rosemont Boulevard. 

Minutes later around 5:24 p.m. he reportedly hit a second house around in the 3500 block of Cleveland Avenue. Both homes are within blocks of each other.

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In both cases the victims were alerted via phone applications to activity on their porches — backed up by video of the acts, according to police reports.

At the first house the caper got away with three packages — containing a pair of Giani Bernini boots, Christmas ornament and a Nike gym bag — valued at about $100.

The 27-year-old woman whose packages were stolen on Rosemont told police she received a phone notification of activity on her front porch. She reviewed video that showed a man take three packages off her porch and get into the passenger side of a red convertible, according to the report.

3 to testify in murder case where Kettering teen was shot to death

The suspect in both cases is described as a white male with a beard, wearing a gray zip jacket, red hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans. He was riding in a red, two-door convertible.

At the second home, the suspect stole a package containing only batteries

The 29-year-old male victim said he uses the phone app Ring Door Bells.