A refusal to prosecute?

Published: Friday, February 24, 2017 @ 5:25 PM

Elizabeth Davis' family
Elizabeth Davis' family

Andrea Davis will likely never see any justice for her mother's brutal murder in 2006. 

"We've just been patiently waiting, having faith in our justice system," said Davis.  

Her mother, Elizabeth, was shot and killed in her Dayton home.  

"We had the believed killer's fingerprints in the house," said retired Dayton homicide Detective Dan Hall. 

Her friend, Felicia Goodson, ran next door for help. 

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"When she beat on the door and pleaded for someone to help her, he got up on the porch and shot and killed her," said Hall. "We had his fingerprints at that scene." 

Detective Hall arrested the suspect, identified as Velis Nelson. Hall went to the Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office to try and get a murder charge on Nelson. 

"It was presented and refused by a 3-prosecutor panel," said Hall.   

Every detective in Montgomery County investigating a violent crime has to come to the Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office to present their evidence to a panel of three prosecutors. It's that panel that decides if the case moves forward to a Montgomery County Grand Jury for a possible indictment on charges, or a no true bill, which means no charges. 

In the Davis-Goodson murders, at the time of Nelson's arrest, the case didn't go to a grand jury.

"I didn't really realize how much we didn't know," said Andrea Davis.  

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The case was idle for nine years, until 2015, when a cold case detective took the evidence back to prosecutors and a grand jury heard the case. The grand jury did not issue an indictment. The Davis and Goodson families were devastated.

Velis Nelson was a free man for a second time. One week later, Nelson was arrested in the shooting death of his cousin and later committed suicide in an Indiana jail. 

Davis felt if a grand jury had heard the case much sooner, near the time of Nelson's first arrest, when witnesses memories were more fresh, the outcome would have been different.

"It takes away the trust that I have in our system," Davis said. 

Now retired Dayton Police homicide Sgt. Gary White has worked on more murder cases in 20 years than anyone in Montgomery County. He said the 3-prosecutor panel works some of the time, but too often the panel is a roadblock to justice. 

Retired Dayton Police Sgt. Gary White and Detective Dan Hall

"Are you confident that there are killers, murderers walking around Montgomery County today who should be in prison?" I asked. "Yes, without a doubt," answered White.

In the late 1990's, Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck announced, "No criminal charges can be brought with the evidence available at this time." Heck was referring to the suffocation deaths of four children, all members of the Moreland family. 

Sgt. White and Det. Hall both said there was strong evidence in the case, including a partial confession from one of the older juvenile children in the family. They said that one person had access and was present at all four scenes.

"In my opinion, and in a lot of peoples' opinions, there was enough to take to a grand jury," said White. "The case was denied at a prosecutor panel." 

The four child deaths remain unsolved today. 

The unsolved murder of one of their own, haunts them too. In November, 1999, Dayton Police Officer Kevin Brame was shot and killed outside his estranged wife's home after returning their children to her house. 

Detective Hall said he is disappointed that no one has ever been charged in Brame's death. 

"I've struggled and fought with the prosecutors office to let a grand jury hear their testimony and was confident we had enough for an indictment. It needed to be tried in Montgomery County," said Hall. 

"I spent three years of my life working on that case, that case alone," said Hall. I asked Hall if he felt confident about who did this, he answered, "Yes, I know who the contractor is." 

Hall went on to say the longer cases like these languish, witnesses die, get killed in other crimes, or get frustrated when nothing has been done.

Hall added, "As a case proceeds through the court, it can get better when citizens see someone is in jail and they are more willing to help out. When they don't see that, they aren't going to help, they get scared." Hall also said suspects get more confident they may have gotten away with something.

I sat down with the Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias Heck and Leon Daidone, Heck's lead prosecutor in the Violent Crimes Division.

Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck said there are respectful disagreements between his office and detectives, but they will always work to find common ground. He said he was surprised to hear criticism from the former detectives about trouble getting cases past his prosecutor panel and in front of a grand jury. 

"Give me the case. Tell me a case that we've had here in the last week, the week before," Heck said. 

In December 2016, Gregory Moses of Trotwood was shot and killed at a home on Haney Road in Harrison Township. 

Soon after, detectives arrested Deandre Dixon, who had been out of prison three years for shooting another man that survived. The new homicide case was presented to a 3-prosecutor panel but charges were refused and Dixon was released from jail. 

According to a statement emailed to me from Heck's office on February 23, 2017, Prosecutor Lynda Dodd stated "This was a homicide that occurred on December 3, 2016. The reporter's information you have is incorrect. Just two days after the crime, on December 5, 2016, a three prosecutor panel met with investigators and provided them with an extensive, detailed list of additional investigation that needs to be completed before a decision can be made. This case remains a pending and active investigation."

Shortly after this newsroom received the above email statement, Dixon was arrested again and charged with the murder of Gregory Moses.

I asked Heck for his reaction to Sgt. White and Det. Hall's statement that violent criminals are being sent back in to the community because of 3-prosecutor panel not approving charges. 

Heck said, "I've not seen that. We and my prosecutors take this job very seriously and they work with these officers everyday. We are always willing to sit down and talk to them to see if there is a better way of doing it." However, Heck said detectives cannot bypass the panel.

"The purpose of the prosecutor is not to just convict someone," Heck said. "The purpose is to do justice and make sure we have the evidence so we can charge that person with the highest degree the evidence supports and that we have the right person charged." 

Sgt. White said the frustration over 3-prosecutor panel refusals got so bad in 2006, he received approval from his Chief at the time to conduct a survey of all 26 police agencies in Montgomery County. White said 22 responded they too were dissatisfied and had similar stalled cases. White said 15 police chiefs in Montgomery County agreed to take part in a secret meeting at Dayton's Police Academy in 2006 to discuss the issue.

White said Heck was confronted by some of the Chief's and changes did take place, but for only about one year.

I asked Heck if he recalled being contacted by Chiefs in 2006 and he said he did not recall. 

Andrea Davis still questions why evidence in murder cases can't go straight to a jury jury like in other Ohio counties.

"There should be nothing in between a crime being committed and the grand jury," said Davis. "Let them do their job." 

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Police: 2 suspected metal thieves caught red-handed in Dayton

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 11:17 PM

Jacob Schiessler, left, and Scott Schiessler
Jacob Schiessler, left, and Scott Schiessler(MONTGOMERY COUNTY JAIL)

A Tipp City man told police he was nearly run over this evening after he tried to confront two suspected metal thieves.

The 56-year-old man dialed 911 to report a theft in progress around 5 p.m. at the old Hewitt Soap Factory, 300 Linden Ave. He said he was on his way home from work when he saw a red pickup truck on the property. He walked up to the truck to get its license plate number when he spotted a man later identified as Jacob Schiessler come out of a vacant building, and saw another man, later identified as Scott Schiessler, load metal into the bed of the pickup, according to a Dayton police report.

>> Man tells officer: ‘I’ll bite your nose off and spit it in your face’ during arrest

The man said when he confronted the men about the theft, Jacob Schiessler threatened him and he backed away at the urging of the 911 operator.

Then, he said Jacob Schiessler got into the driver’s seat of the pickup, accelerated and tried to run him owner. The victim said he was able to run out of the way to avoid being struck, the report stated.

Police found the pickup at First Street Recycling, 1400 E. First St.

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The victim identified Jacob and Scott Schiessler as the men involved in the incident at the soap factory property, the report stated.

Both men were booked into the Montgomery County Jail on suspicion of felony breaking and entering, and Jacob Schiessler also faces a felonious assault charge. They are due to be arraigned Friday afternoon in Dayton Municipal Court, online jail records show.

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

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5 restaurants that closed near the Mall at Fairfield Commons

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

Restaurants in and around the Mall at Fairfield Commons that have closed

The area in and around the Mall at Fairfield Commons in Beavercreek has been a hotbed of restaurant activity in recent years, mostly focusing on new restaurants.

>> 12 of the best restaurants in Dayton

>> 10 restaurants opening in Dayton in 2018

And that’s not surprising, because in 2015, the parent company of the Fairfield Commons mall actually demolished a portion of its building that had previously housed anchor department-store space to pave the way for the addition of restaurants and other entertainment-themed retailers.

>> 6 restaurants that shut down at The Greene

>> Demolition underway of a portion of the Mall at Fairfield Commons

But the area where Beavercreek, Fairborn, Wright State University and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base-related businesses all come together has seen a large number of restaurant closings in recent years as well.

>> Fairfield Commons restaurant makes list of ‘fastest growing’

In most — but not all — cases, the spaces left behind haven’t remained empty for long, as successor restaurants have moved in quickly. And several new restaurants have opened in the area in recent months and years, including MELT Bar & Grilled, Flyboys Deli, Fusian, Primanti Bros., MacKenzie River Pizza Grill Pub and Wandering Griffin, to name a few.

>> Fusian opens at Mall at Fairfield Commons

Here are some of the higher-profile restaurant closings in and around the Mall at Fairfield Commons.

1. Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant in Beavercreek closes abruptly after 13 years

Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant shut down its only Dayton-area location at the end of 2017. Staff file photo by Jim Witmer(Staff Writer)

Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant was a Beavercreek dining option since it opened in 2005 at 2420 N. Fairfield Road, just south of the Mall at Fairfield Commons. The restaurant shut down permanently and with apparently little warning at the end of 2017.

“We don’t currently have plans to open another location in the Dayton area,” Melanie Carroll, marketing director for Abuelo’s corporate parent, Food Concepts International, told this news outlet shortly after the closure.

2. Logan’s Roadhouse shuts down its Beavercreek restaurant

Logan’s Roadhouse has emerged from bankruptcy, its parent company announced today. FILE PHOTO(Staff Writer)

Logan’s Roadhouse closed its Beavercreek location at 2819 Centre Drive near the Mall at Fairfield Commons in September 2016. Employees were told high rent and the upcoming renegotiation of a lease was a factor in the decision to close the Beavercreek location.

A month before the closure, Logan’s Roadhouse Inc. filed for reorganization bankruptcy and said it would close 18 “underperforming” locations in the 256-unit chain as it restructured its debt. No Dayton-area location was among the that first wave of closings, however.

Logan’s still operates two Dayton-area steakhouse restaurants: near the Dayton Mall in Miami Twp. and in Troy.

3. Don Pablo’s closes Beavercreek location

Don Pablo’s wants to see you in a stache.A mustache can get you a free sopapilla on Thursday. (Source: Don Pablo’s Facebook)Don Pablo’s burritto. Which restaurant sells the best burrito in Dayton? ActiveDayton.com wants to know.

Don Pablo’s closed its restaurant at 2745 Fairfield Commons Blvd. in September 2016. The Tex-Mex chain, which got its start in Lubbock, Texas in 1985, has only one remaining restaurant in Ohio, on Madison Road in Cincinnati.

4. Max & Erma’s Beavercreek to close; new pub already in works

Max & Erma’s will close its restaurant at the front of Bridgewater Falls in Fairfield Twp., but will then convert the space to a different restaurant concept, MacKenzie River Pizza, Grill & Pub, later this year. CONTRIBUTED

The Max & Erma’s restaurant chain’s corporate owner closed its restaurant in front of the Mall at Fairfield

Commons in April 2017, and said the space would be converted to a different restaurant concept, MacKenzie River Pizza Grill Pub. And that’s exactly what happened in the ensuing months.

“We wanted to give the Beavercreek community a new exciting dining option,” James Blystone, vice president of franchising and communication for Montana-based Glacier Restaurant Group, told this news outlet. “This location worked fine for Max & Erma’s, but as we continue to expand the MacKenzie River Pizza Grill Pub, we look for opportunities that we feel are a great fit for this brand.”

“We are confident the Beavercreek location and the community will embrace MacKenzie River’s scratch kitchen, extraordinary service and mountain ambience.”

In February 2018, Glacier made a very similar announcement for its Liberty Twp. restaurant.

5. Quaker Steak and Lube restaurant abruptly closes in Beavercreek

Quaker Steak & Lube off of Colonel Glenn Highway shut down in 2015, and became the Wandering Griffin Brewpub the following year. MARK FISHER/STAFF(Staff Writer)

The Dayton area’s only Quaker Steak and Lube restaurant location at 3725 Presidential Drive off Colonel Glenn Highway up the street from the Mall at Fairfield Commons shut its doors rather abruptly in September 2015, after nearly 13 years in business.

The restaurant’s franchise owner-operator, Russell Berner, said at the time that he was selling the restaurant and real estate. “We appreciate the patronage of the last 13 years,” Berner said. But he said the offer for the property “was too good to refuse.”

It didn’t stay vacant for long. The Wandering Griffin Brewpub opened in the space in November 2016.

>> Wandering Griffin brewpub now open

These are some of the higher-profile closings in the last three years in and around the Fairfield Commons Mall. There have been other closings in the mall’s food court, including Phantom Pizza, Cajun Ming, Subway and Designer Dogs, but those spaces were filled, usually quite quickly, with restaurants that include Sbarro, Gyro King and Asian Too.

And if we want to talk restaurant closings in the “Way-Back” times, we could mention Boulevard Grille or California Pizza Kitchen — but that may be a story for another day.

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Bomb at FedEx facility targeted Austin Med Spa employee, worker’s mom says

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 11:01 PM

A Texas state flag flies outside a FedEx facility following an explosion on March 20, 2018 in Schertz, Texas. A package exploded while being transported on a conveyor shortly after midnight. 
Scott Olson/Getty Images
A Texas state flag flies outside a FedEx facility following an explosion on March 20, 2018 in Schertz, Texas. A package exploded while being transported on a conveyor shortly after midnight. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A bomb found at a FedEx facility in Southeast Austin on Tuesday morning was addressed to an employee at Austin Med Spa, according to spa workers and the employee’s mother. 

>> Read more trending news 

Anita Ward, a nurse at Austin Med Spa, said FBI agents and Austin police told her Tuesday morning that her daughter, who also works at the spa in downtown Austin, was to be the recipient of the unexploded bomb at a FedEx sorting facility at 4117 McKinney Falls Parkway near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. 

Ward, who did not want to give her daughter’s name, said her daughter does not know Mark Conditt, who police say terrorized Austin with a series of bomb attacks that left two people dead and five injured.

Anita Ward said Conditt also did not look familiar to anyone who works at the spa.

>> Related: Austin bombings: Click here for complete coverage

“We’ve been trying to just keep it in the down low just for the FBI and police,” Ward said. “All of us here are just very thankful for the FBI and police and the work they’ve been doing.”

“I got to see a little bit of the inside of (the investigative process) and they were very quick at checking and stopping this package, and so we completely 100 percent credit this to them for stopping this from being delivered to our office,” she said.

>> Related: Austin bomber on recording: ‘I wish I were sorry but I am not’ 

Ward’s daughter attends Austin Community College, but did not attend the school from 2010 to 2012, when Conditt was pursuing a business administration degree but did not graduate.

They’re still investigating, we’re still providing them information,” Ward said. “We pretty much know as much as (authorities) can release to us. We still have a lot of unanswered questions.”

For now, Ward said she and her daughter are scared but thankful for the work of the FBI and Austin police. “We’ve both been very actively concerned and involved with this, her being targeted.”

Common Traits Of A Serial Bomber

Police said the unexploded package at the FedEx facility in Southeast Austin was one of two sent from a Sunset Valley FedEx Office store. Authorities determined it was a bomb and detonated in a controlled manner, they said.

>> Related: Austin bomb victim's father thanks authorities in letter, questions son's death

The first three victims, all in East Austin, were two black men who were killed in the attacks and a Hispanic woman. Two white men were injured on Sunday when they accidentally triggered a trip wire attached to a bomb in Southwest Austin. Ward and her daughter are white.

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National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster out; former U.S. ambassador John Bolton in

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 6:37 PM

Who Is H.R. McMaster, Trump’s National Security Adviser

National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster is resigning from the Trump administration and will be replaced by former U.S. ambassador John Bolton, according to a tweet Thursday afternoon from President Donald Trump.

>> Read more trending newsWho is H.R. McMaster, Trump's national security advisor

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster attends a meeting between President Donald Trump and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office at the White House on March 20, 2018 in Washington, D.C.(Pool/Getty Images)

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