Man convicted in local murder fights ‘cruel and unusual’ court costs

Published: Thursday, February 08, 2018 @ 9:53 AM

A man convicted in a Montgomery County murder is arguing in court that the garnishment on his prison wages is cruel and unusual punishment, prohibited by the constitution. FILE
A man convicted in a Montgomery County murder is arguing in court that the garnishment on his prison wages is cruel and unusual punishment, prohibited by the constitution. FILE

Convicted murderer James L. Dunson makes about $40 a month at his state prison job — money that he’d like to spend on medical co-pays, deodorant and other personal items — but every cent of it is garnished by Montgomery County to whittle down the bill for his court costs.

Dunson is arguing in court that the garnishment is cruel and unusual punishment, prohibited by the Constitution. The American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law agree with Dunson and are lending him support in his case before the Ohio Supreme Court.

RELATED: Chief justice to Ohio judges: Courts aren’t ATMs to collect fees

The trio of civil rights groups filed an amicus brief in the case this week and cited a recent letter from Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor sent to judges statewide last month, reminding them that “courts are centers for justice, not automatic teller machines whose purpose is to generate revenue for governments, including themselves.”

“It would violate the U.S. Constitution to require indigent criminal defendants who exercise their right to trial to pay court costs they cannot afford,” the ACLU and others said in their supporting brief filed in Dunson’s appeal.

Prisoners earn between 21 cents and $1.23 an hour.

RELATED: Third defendant in 2012 Riverside slaying sentenced to prison

Dunson and his legal team want the Ohio Supreme Court to uphold a 2nd District Court of Appeal ruling that trial courts must evaluate a defendant’s ability to pay before assessing court costs. Mongtomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck appealed that decision to the supreme court, arguing that there is no law requiring a trial court to consider an inmate’s ability to pay court costs. Heck also argues that inmates can apply for waivers from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to exempt them from garnishment.

RELATED: New death date set for man after state halted his execution

Dunson, now 27, has been serving a 18-years to life sentence since his 2013 conviction in Montgomery County in June 2012 murder of Geoffrey Andrews in Riverside. Dunson and another man waited in a getaway car. Dunson is being held at Warren Correctional Institution.

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Self-proclaimed white nationalist banned from Seattle gym

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 12:07 AM

A Seattle gym banned Greg Johnson, a self-proclaimed white nationalist. (Photo: KIRO7.com)
A Seattle gym banned Greg Johnson, a self-proclaimed white nationalist. (Photo: KIRO7.com)

A self-proclaimed white nationalist was banned from a Fremont gym after the owners learned he is a leader in the alt-right community.

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The owners of Northwest Fitness Project say Greg Johnson is longer welcome there.

“The trainer terminated his contract and we banned him from the gym,” said Kyle Davis, a co-owner of the gym.

It's a move that has some people wondering if it violates a city ordinance that says "places of public accommodation" can't discriminate based on a person's beliefs.

But the owners of the gym say that ordinance doesn't apply -- because it’s not a public space. To use the space, you must be the client of a trainer.

“There’s no open gym membership, it's not like people can come and go as they please,” Davis said. “Trainers come and run their own businesses out of this location."

“There's a right of first refusal of the independent trainer. And (the trainer) chose to not work with him anymore due to the harm it would cause his reputation, and not wanting to be associated with those views,” Davis said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Greg Johnson an "international figure for white nationalism” and “one of the leading voices of the far-right.”

In September 2017, the New York Times interviewed him undercover and posted it on its website.

In the interview, Johnson says, “I would identify myself as a white nationalist. That states the goals I have politically.”

When asked about people who are Jewish, Johnson says, “The solution would ultimately (be) to expel them.”

Davis said he’s disturbed to hear Johnson’s views.

“I would feel threatened, yes,” he said. “I'm converting to Judaism, my fiancée is Jewish and we want to raise our kids Jewish.”

The owners say after Johnson was banned, a white nationalist publication told followers to post negative reviews on the gym's Yelp and Facebook pages.

“We were at a five (star average review); it went down to a three,” said Matthew Holland, the other co-owner of Northwest Fitness Project.

But hundreds of people supported the gym on social media, helping it bounce back.

“Now we're to like a 4.8,” Holland said. “We have a great community and we didn't realize how awesome they all were. Going through a rough time like this, it was just so encouraging.”

The Puget Sound Anarchists first published last week that Johnson lives in Seattle. It’s also how the gym owners found out about Johnson’s beliefs.

Johnson did not comment.

The gym said it heard Johnson left the area.

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WPAFB Monday Forecast: Soggy day with heavy rain

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 11:40 PM

A false alarm in a building led to a temporary gate closure Wednesday night in Area B, a base spokeswoman said.
Staff Writer
A false alarm in a building led to a temporary gate closure Wednesday night in Area B, a base spokeswoman said.(Staff Writer)

A soggy start to your Monday is expected.

Widespread showers will be around during the morning, some of which could be heavy at times. There is even the chance for a few rumbles of thunder.

>> WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

Ponding on the roads will be a concern through the morning. Even though we’re expecting a lot of rain and clouds Monday, temperatures will warm into the 60s in the afternoon.

> County-By-County Weather

There will be some breaks in the rain during the afternoon and evening.

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Several sinkholes open in Florida neighborhood, threaten homes

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 11:24 PM

Several sinkholes opened in a Florida neighborhood. (Photo: WFTV.com)
Several sinkholes opened in a Florida neighborhood. (Photo: WFTV.com)

Several sinkholes opened in The Villages Thursday, threatening several homes, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said. 

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Four homes have been evacuated. Officials said the largest of the three holes is 35 feet deep and 18 feet wide. 

One of the sinkholes that opened up is outside Frank Newman’s home.

He said he heard strange sounds and wasn’t sure what was going on.

“At about 12:30 I was watching the Olympics when I heard something that I thought was thunder,” Newman said.

Hours later, he found out what was actually going on.

“My front door bell rings about 3:10. It was a policeman saying, ‘You got to get out of your house,’” Newman said.

Marion County Emergency Management was also at the scene and said that utilities to the four closest homes have been disconnected as a precaution.

The sinkholes go beneath two of the homes.

Photos: Sinkholes open in Villages neighborhood

Cracks formed outside Newman’s neighbor’s home and a hole opened up near her front door.

“In her house, she is seeing cracks inside the house on the floor and stuff,” Newman said. “She can’t get her car out of the garage because the garage door won’t open.”

Signs have been placed outside some of the homes warning the houses have been condemned.

Golf course officials are draining a lake to help the situation. Utilities officials said that if a water main break occurs, they will be able to handle it, but 20 homes could potentially lose water service if that happens.

Residents were allowed to briefly return to their homes to pick up some belongings.

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Rain returns this week, flooding a concern

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 4:27 AM
Updated: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 10:34 PM

Multiple chances for rain this week are leading to some flooding concerns in the Dayton area.

Clouds will be on the increase overnight tonight as rain approaches toward daybreak Monday. Temperatures overnight will be steady in the upper 30s and lower 40s.

  • Rain returns tomorrow
  • More rain mid-week
  • Flooding possible the next few days

MONDAY: Rain returns, and it could be heavy at times. While the chance for storms is not all that high, it can’t be ruled out. Highs will be in the lower to middle 60s.

TUESDAY: More dry time is expected, but storms will be possible later in the evening. Highs will be near 70 degrees.

WEDNESDAY: Rain showers are expected with highs near 60 degrees.

THURSDAY: The chance for rain continues mainly south. Highs will be in the middle 40s. 

FRIDAY: The chance for rain returns again Friday. Highs will be in the middle 50s.

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