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Jurors set to visit site of Hamilton firefighter’s death

Published: Monday, November 06, 2017 @ 5:33 PM

Jury Selection for Two Men charged in arson fire that killed Hamilton Firefighter

A jury is scheduled Tuesday to visit a burned out Hamilton home as part of the trial for two men accused in Hamilton firefighter Patrick Wolterman’s death.

William “Billy” Tucker and his uncle Lester Parker are both charged with two counts of aggravated arson and murder in connection to Wolterman’s death in December 2015.

Wolterman died when he fell through the first floor of the Pater Avenue home while fighting a blaze.

MORE: Attempt to move Hamilton firefighter death trial fails

Prosecutors allege that Parker, 67, solicited Tucker, 46, of Richmond, Ky., to start the fire at his residence. Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Parker and Tucker walked into the largest courtroom in Butler County on Monday for jury selection wearing street clothes. Tucker, whose hair was nearly shoulder length while awaiting trial, had a fresh haircut that defense attorney Tamara Sack said had been cut at the Preble County Jail, where he has been housed since his arrest last winter.

Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Stephens requested 125 potential jurors for selection. Eighty showed up for duty, and of those, about a dozen said they would have difficulty serving during a lengthy trial.

Stephens has said the trial could last three weeks.

Some of the potential jurors said they knew a witness likely to be called to testify or one of the attorneys involved in the case.

A woman said she went to school with members of Wolterman’s family and another man said he was a firefighter in the Dayton area and had attended Wolterman’s funeral.

“I would be the worst possible person to be on the jury,” the man told the judge.

MORE: Possible witness in Hamilton firefighter death case

Prosecutors indicated detectives, a travel agent and an insurance expert were among those likely to testify during the trial.

Both Parker and Tucker have declined to attend Tuesday’s scheduled jury view of the home and surrounding area.

Two weeks ago, Sack filed four motions under seal, including one notice of alibi for Tucker.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said he could not comment on the sealed motions, including an alleged alibi for Tucker.

But he said he stands by the indictment.

“I plan on proving this case as if (Tucker) was there and set the fire and he did so after being solicited by Lester Parker,” Gmoser said. “I stand by our allegations and we intend to prove every single one of them.”

Other motions filed indicate there is a witness who can place Tucker at or near the scene of the fire.

EXCLUSIVE: Burglar alarm sent police to home where Hamilton firefighter died

Sack and Parker’s attorney David Washington both requested the jury view the scene at 1310 Pater Ave.

Emergency crews were alerted to the Dec. 28 fire by a burglary alarm. When police arrived at Parker’s home, they found heavy smoke pouring out of the two-story building.

Wolterman entered the burning home because he and other firefighters were told an older couple may have been trapped inside.

Parker told this newspaper that he and his wife were in Las Vegas celebrating their wedding anniversary on the night of the fire.

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Cause of vacant house fire in Piqua under investigation

Published: Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 3:23 AM
Updated: Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 4:52 AM

A fire in the 200 block of East Main Street caused the inside of the house to be completely damaged.

UPDATE @ 4:41 a.m.:

The fire in the 200 block of East Main Street is under control but the inside of the house is completely damaged, according to Assistant Chief Kennedy of the Piqua Fire Department.

>>Winter Weather Advisory in effect; slick roads likely

The house was vacant and no one was inside, Kennedy said.

All crews from Piqua Fire Department worked on the fire with assistance from Covington Fire Department and Fletcher Fire Department.

No injuries were reported.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

UPDATE @ 3:50 a.m.:

Piqua fire and police crews are battling a house fully engulfed in flames in the 200 block of East Main Street in Piqua.

The roof has reportedly collapsed but all walls are still intact, according to scanner traffic.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to


Crews are on scene of a house fire that is reportedly engulfed in flames in the 200 block of East Main Street.

The fire was reported around 2:50 a.m. Saturday.

We have a crew on the way and will update this story as information becomes available. 

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Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe fired two days before retirement

Published: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 11:10 PM
Updated: Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 7:44 AM

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 13:  Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe listens during a news conference to announce significant law enforcement actions July 13, 2017 at the Justice Department in Washington, DC. Attorney General Jeff Sessions held the news conference to announce the 2017 health care fraud takedown.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 13: Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe listens during a news conference to announce significant law enforcement actions July 13, 2017 at the Justice Department in Washington, DC. Attorney General Jeff Sessions held the news conference to announce the 2017 health care fraud takedown. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions has fired former deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, two days before McCabe was set to retire, according to news reports.

>> Read more trending news 

Sessions said in a statement released Friday night that McCabe was less than truthful while under oath several times, according to The New York Times.

“The F.B.I. expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity and accountability,” he said. “I have terminated the employment of Andrew McCabe effective immediately.”

In a statement Friday night, McCabe said his firing was politically motivated.

"This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and the intelligence professionals," McCabe said.

>> Related: Who is Andrew G. McCabe, former Deputy Director of the FBI?

In an earlier interview, McCabe rejected the allegations that he was untruthful during internal hearings, the Times reported.

>> Rex Tillerson out as Secretary of State; Pompeo nominated as replacement

“The idea that I was dishonest is just wrong,” he said. 

“This is part of an effort to discredit me as a witness.”

McCabe is a potential witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign

Shortly after midnight, President Donald Trump tweeted about the firing, calling it “a great day for democracy.”

>> Related: Who are key players in the Russia/Trump saga?

McCabe, who had been with the FBI for 22 years, resigned his position in late January, but stayed on at the agency until he was eligible to retire on Sunday.

Andrew McCabe Steps Down As FBI Deputy Director(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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Cables tightened on FIU bridge before it collapsed, possible cracks reported

Published: Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 7:11 AM

Miami Bridge Collapse: At Least Six Dead

Officials with The National Transportation Safety Board said construction workers were tightening cables on the newly constructed pedestrian bridge at Florida International University on Thursday before the structure collapsed, killing at least six people. And days before the collapse, a lead engineer reportedly noticed cracks in the bridge, according to the Florida Department of Transportation. 

>> Read more trending news

Friday night, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said their investigation is still in the early stages, but they know what workers were doing before the collapse. At this point, they don’t know if the work that was being done was the cause of the collapse. 

“Our mission is to find out not only what happened -- we know what happened, the bridge collapsed,” he said. “We want to find out why it happened.”

At about 1:30 p.m. Thursday, law enforcement responded to the intersection of Southwest Eighth Street and Southwest 109th Avenue west of Miami to the bridge collapse. Several people were taken to the hospital and six were confirmed dead as of Friday evening. Authorities said they expected to find other victims during their recovery efforts.

>> Miami bridge collapse: 6 confirmed dead, police say

On the day of the collapse, the main NTSB investigator for the said that there are 10 “diagonal members” that connect the walkway portion of the bridge to the canopy portion. He said on Thursday, construction workers were tightening cables within those diagonal supports. 

“Construction crews were applying post-tensioning force that is designed to strengthen the diagonal member,” he said.

During the news conference, officials were asked about possible cracks in the structure. They said at this time, they have not confirmed that on their own.

Friday night, the Florida Department of Transportation released the transcript of a voicemail left Tuesday by the lead engineer with FIGG, the firm that designed the bridge. The engineer, Denney Pate, said there were cracks in the concrete.

“Um, so, uh, we’ve taken a look at it and, uh, obviously some repairs or whatever will have to be done but from a safety perspective we don’t see that there’s any issue there so we’re not concerned about it from that perspective although obviously the cracking is not good and something’s going to have to be, ya know, done to repair that,” Pate said.

FDOT said in their release that no one in the office heard the voicemail until Friday, a day after the collapse. 

Additionally, FDOT said that neither FIU nor the engineering firm ever warned them of any “life-safety issue.”

NTSB investigators were also asked about the cables shown in the photo renderings of what the bridge would look like when complete. In those depictions, the cables spread across the upper portion of the bridge much like the sail of a boat. Investigators said from their understanding, those cables “were only cosmetic; they were not structural members.” They had not been installed at this point because the second part of the bridge had not been built or installed. 

Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Alejandro Camacho said that Southwest Eighth Street between Southwest 107th Avenue to Southwest 117th Avenue will remain closed indefinitely as the recovery efforts and investigation continue. 

Sumwalt said they expect NTSB investigators to spend between five and seven days at the scene. 

“That’s really just the beginning of our investigation because there’s a lot of work that goes into this,” he said. 

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Slick road conditions throughout Miami Valley

Published: Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 8:02 AM

A wintry mix of rain, sleet and snow will fall causing slick road conditions for Saint Patrick’s Day morning, according to StormCenter 7 meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs.

Roads will be icy especially on bridges and overpasses, so be sure to use caution during your commute.

>>Winter weather advisory until noon Saturday

A two vehicle injury accident was reported on West Dorothy Lane and Encrete Lane around 7:40 a.m. with heavy damage.

A van was found in a field with down power lines on 49 Gettysburg-Pitsburg Rd. in Arcanum around 7 a.m. It is not yet known if road conditions were a cause of the accident.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to

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