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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.

Tour de Donut to bring ‘wall to wall bicycles’ to downtown Troy

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 7:11 AM

A participant in a previous Tour De Donut gets into the spirit of the event by downing a donut. CONTRIBUTED
A participant in a previous Tour De Donut gets into the spirit of the event by downing a donut. CONTRIBUTED

Troy will be hosting Tour de Donut for the second time this August.

The inaugural event in Troy last year brought 2,300 riders, and went through 14,000 donuts.

“The best part is when the cyclists start lining up, there are some just out for fun, but a lot of them are serious cyclists,” said Diana Thompson from the Miami County Visitor’s Bureau. “It’s wall to wall bicycles, singles and tandems.”

Organizers expect about 3,000 participants this year.

Tour de Donut has been running for 12 years in Illinois. It’s a unique bicycle event in which riders visit several donut stops along the course. For each donut the rider eats, and keeps down, five minutes will be deducted from their time.

That’s right — the more donuts a rider eats, the faster their time is.

The event has partnered with Be the Match this year as their official charity partner.

“It was a perfect match,” said Tour de Donut organizer Roger Bowersock. “We try to add something new every year.”

Be the Match is putting on its Bukeye Donut Dash, a 5k beginning in downtown Troy. The Buckeye Donut Dash raises funds to help patients in need of a bone marrow transplant.

“This is a big partnership, everybody wins,” Thompson said. “Because the Tour be Donut has so many followers, many more have donated (to Be the Match).”

The run and the bike event will begin simultaneously, then go their separate ways. All runners and cyclists will then merge back together on Market Street Bridge.

Riders have a choice of riding a 16-mile, 32-mile and 64-mile course through Miami County.

“Our event is casual, it is a lot of fun,” Bowersock said. “It’s something you have to experience to really understand. Most of the people who do it come back.”

Bowersock said the organization will start inviting donut shops in March to compete to be a special stop on the trail, “the Glazer.”

The Glazer serves riders an “over-the-top, overstuffed with goo, etc.” donut worth a 10-minute time reduction. The winning donut shop will be picked at the Troy Strawberry Festival in June.

Before Tour de Donut was held in Troy, it was hosted in Arcanum.

VIDEOS: Meteor spotted in Ohio, Michigan, Canada

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 10:06 PM

Meteorite spotted over midwestern states

The fireball lit up the sky Tuesday just after 8 p.m.

>>Bitter cold temperatures to continue

The dashboard cam video was shared by Mike Austin as he was driving north on I-75 near Bloomfield Hills, north of Detroit, Michigan. 

>>2017 fireball caught on WHIO-TV weather camera

The fireball was also seen from northwest Ohio and southwest Ontario, Canada. 

It is not known whether the meteorite dissipated in the atmosphere or made it to the ground or into Lake Michigan.

Dashcam video shot by WWMT/Kalamazoo photo journalist Zack Lawler in Battle Creek, Michigan.

MONTAGE: Beams of light caused by meteor in Michigan

Washington State University quarterback Tyler Hilinski found dead with apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 12:06 AM

WSU Quarterback Found Dead Found Apparent Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound

Police in Pullman, Washington, say officers have found Washington State University quarterback Tyler Hilinski dead Tuesday in an apartment with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

>> Read more trending news

At about 4:30 p.m., officers responded to an apartment to check on the welfare of a football player who did not show up for practice earlier in the day. 

When officers arrived, they found Hilinkski, 21, deceased with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. 

Police said a rifle was recovered next to Hilinski and a note was found. 

Washington State president Kirk Schulz tweeted, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hilinski family.”

Former Washington State linebackers coach Roy Manning, who recently left for a position at UCLA, tweeted , “Words can’t describe what I’m feeling right now. My heart is beyond saddened. Please pray for the family and all of us affected!”

Hilinski, from Claremont, Calif., recently finished his redshirt sophomore season for the Cougars.

He started in place of Senior Luke Falk in the Cougars loss to Michigan State in the Holiday Bowl. 

Hilinski played 11 games in his Cougars career, passing for 1,149 yards and seven touchdowns.

Hilinski was the presumptive starting quarterback going into next season. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Changes promised at local school district in wake of racially insensitive basketball jerseys incident

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 10:31 PM

Change coming to Kings School board

Changes are being promised for Kings Schools in the wake of last week’s racist incident that drew national attention, but Tuesday evening district officials said details about those changes will come later.

That was the message from Kings’ leader and school board members, who took the resignation of their board vice president in the wake of some white, local teens wearing basketball jerseys that displayed racist slurs.

 MORE: Kings and Mason schools facing outcry in wake of racial incidents

The Kings Board of Education voted 4-0 to formally accept the resignation of member Kerry McKiernan, who previously cited his own failure in stopping some of the boys on the recreational league basketball team – not affiliated with Kings -- from wearing jerseys with names that appeared to slur African-Americans.

The names on the backs of the jerseys included "Knee Grow" and "Coon." The team played in the Cincinnati Premier Youth Basketball League.

McKiernan, whose son played on the now banned team that used Kings’ facilities, did not attend Tuesday’s board meeting and has not responded to requests for comment.

Last week McKiernan emotionally announced his intentions to resign, citing his failure to stop the team from wearing the jerseys during its first four games.

 MORE: Kings board member and father said he shares responsibility for failing to report racist jerseys

Superintendent Tim Ackermann told this news outlet he will soon be proposing systemic changes design to raise student, school staffers and community members’ awareness of the importance of racial and other diversity for the predominately white Warren County district.

“It’s really important to move forward and sustainable change is extremely important to us so that we can work to create a more loving, acceptable tolerant society,” said Ackermann. “We believe this is a community and societal issue around racism … intolerance, hate and bigotry and we all need to work together to make Kings the best place for all of our kids.”

He declined, however, to give details as to what district efforts are coming, saying the changes are still being studied.

“I don’t want to create something just to create something. Sustainable change doesn’t happen overnight,” said Ackermann.

Tom Squires, an African-American parent at Kings, was among the more than a dozen residents who attended the board meeting.

Afterward, Squires said the jersey incident, which has drawn national media attention, was “unfortunate.”

“We didn’t pay that close of attention as parents and we should have. We have to react swiftly and we have to make sure that people understand that this is not a district that condones that kind of thing,” said Squires, who has lived in the Deerfield Twp. school community for more than a decade.

“When you make a mistake you have to make sure you correct that mistake. Sometimes it’s not always fast but we have to make sure we make the right correction,” he said. 

“This thing (reaction to the incident) is still evolving so it’s kind of hard for me to be critical of the district. They are still trying to make the correction and I think we should give them the opportunity to do so,” said Squires.

Under Ohio school law, the board now has until Feb. 9 to appoint a new board member and agreed during its meeting to accept applications until 4 p.m. on Jan. 24. 

Applications will soon be available on the Kings Schools website.

The board will then vote at its Jan. 31 meeting – after interviewing all applicants – on who will fill McKiernan’s seat through his term, which ends December 2019.