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Published: Friday, March 02, 2018 @ 1:51 PM
MIDDLETOWN — While there are no statistics on the number of times a trial court judge might opt to order the parties in a case not to make public comments or set other limitations, there are few instances from Butler or Warren counties that actually reach the state appellate court for a ruling.
In Ohio, judges may decide to issue a “gag order” to anyone associated with the case, such as the defendant, family members, lawyers and law enforcement, from making public comments so that it does not impede the defendant getting a fair trial or tainting the potential jury pool from the pre-trial publicity.
Bennett Manning, administrator for the 12th District Court of Appeals in Middletown, which oversees 52 trial courts in Butler, Warren, Preble, Clermont, Brown, Clinton, Fayette and Madison counties, believes other judges may have issued orders similar to the one issued last August by Warren County Common Pleas Judge Donald Oda II in the case of Brooke Sklyar Richardson, the Carlisle teen accused of burning and burying her newborn baby last May.
“This is the only one called a ‘gag order’ that I can remember that has got to the Court of Appeals,” said Manning, the court’s administrator since 1991. “It’s kind of unusual that one was put in place.”
On Monday, the 12th District Court of Appeals in Middletown lifted Oda’s gag order in the case against Richardson.
The teen was indicted last year on charges of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and child endangering.
Richardson has a hearing scheduled for 1 p.m. on Monday. A five-day jury trial has been scheduled to start on April 16 in Warren County Common Pleas Court.
Court said lesser alternatives were not sought
While the appellate court understood Oda’s concerns and believes he acted with his best intentions at heart, it also agreed with the appellant that Oda’s “sweeping conclusion” that a gag order is necessary in this case serves as nothing more than “an impermissible leap from his findings that the case has garnered media attention,” according to the opinion.
“To presume that there may be news coverage that threatens the administration of justice, whether that be against the state or the defendant, is nothing more than pure speculation,” the court opinion reads.
The appellate court also said there was little evidence indicating Oda fully considered any less restrictive alternatives than the gag order at issue, nor any evidence in the record to support Oda’s finding there was “no lesser restrictive alternative” available in this case, according to the opinion.
The appellate court opinion said, “Nothing about this decision, however, should be considered an invitation for either the state or the defendant to try this case in the court of public opinion as opposed to the court of law, nor does this court’s decision bar Judge Oda from revisiting this issue in the future if justice so requires.”
Richardson remains free on a $50,000 bond and under court-ordered house arrest that was a condition of her release.
In a text message to this news outlet, Charles M. Rittgers, Richardson’s attorney said, “There is a lot we could say about the case but we understand Judge Oda’s concern about publicity. The Judge wants a fair trial for Skylar and we want to abide by his desire to limit pretrial publicity.”
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell declined to comment on the appellate court’s decision when contacted Thursday.
A phone message seeking comment from Oda was not returned.
Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 1:05 AM
— A group of students from the Dayton area left Friday night, headed to Washington, D.C., to march in the nation's capital Saturday in the name of gun control.
The students have a grueling itinerary, leaving from Englewood by bus Friday night, riding by bus through the night and arriving in Washington around 9 a.m. They’ll return early Sunday after another overnight bus ride.
“We want action and we want prevention,” said Sammy Caruso, an Oakwood High School student who coordinated the trip.
NOW: Oakwood students making signs, preparing to leave tonight for tomorrow’s “March for our Lives” in Washington, advocating for gun control pic.twitter.com/25jLSp1YBO— Sean Cudahy (@SCudahyWHIO) March 23, 2018
Oakwood students spent their Friday night making signs in preparation for their trip. They’ll join other teens from all over the country in what’s being called the “March for our Lives.”
It’s a push for tougher gun laws in the wake of the most recent mass shooting last month at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
“I think marches are one of the best ways we can get people involved,” said Caruso.
Students from several schools in the Miami Valley boarded the bus, along with some parents and teachers who also are along for the trip.
Caruso said he lost a friend in the Parkland shooting, so he said this issue is personal for him.
“I really felt like I needed to do something about it, I couldn’t just watch this happen, see something that happened to my friend ... I need to do as much as I can,” he said.
“We want our congressmen to know that we’re sick of it, and if they’re not going to have any action, we’re going to demand it.”
In Dayton, a March for Our Lives event is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Courthouse Square downtown.
Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 1:03 PM
— A winter weather advisory remains in effect until 2 a.m. Sunday throughout Butler County, according to the National Weather Service.
The area is receiving snow right now, but it’s not sticking to most roads. Area police agencies are reporting no major accidents or delays. Traffic along Interstate 75 through Butler and Warren counties was traveling at the speed limit as of noon.
The NWS said wet snow is expected through the region with accumulations of 1 to 3 inches.
Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 5:37 AM
Updated: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 12:45 PM
— A Winter Weather Advisory remains in effect until 2 a.m. Sunday in Butler County.
Today: Highs will be in the low 40s on this mostly cloudy day with gusty winds of around 25 mph. Passing showers move in during the day mixing with snow and possibly some rain in the afternoon. Best chance for this is south of Interstate 70. Snow totals will be limited and MOST of the Miami Valley will see nothing stick today. Butler County is under Winter Weather Advisory where 1 to 3 inches could fall. The Dayton area might see a dusting on grassy surfaces and north of that will have a pretty quiet. Looks like the Miami Valley dodges the heaviest bands of snow, which will stay to our south. Temperatures climb to around 40 degrees. Clouds decrease tonight and we drop to the mid-20s.
Sunday: It will be a beautiful end to the weekend. We will see highs in the mid to upper 40s. Dry and sunny!
Monday: We see a nice start to the new week with temperatures close to normal with highs in the low to middle 50s. Clouds increase in the evening.
Tuesday: Scattered rain showers will develop with highs in the upper 50s feeling mild and breezy.
Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 12:45 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A domestic dispute led to a woman's arrest in Albuquerque Thursday, police said.
Davona Chavez, 21, was allegedly upset because her ex-boyfriend accused her of damaging his girlfriend's car, KOB reported. She allegedly told police that she had a few shots of Hennessy, put her three children in the backseat of her car and drove off.
At some point, Chavez allegedly stopped the car in the middle of the road and fired a shot in the air, police said. No one was injured. An officer who heard the shot followed Chavez and arrested her, KOB reported.