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. 

RELATED: Suspect in cold cases not indicted

"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.  

RELATED: Vigil held on 10-year mark of double homicide

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." 

Miamisburg crews continue to battle garage fire 

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 12:58 AM
Updated: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 1:35 AM

Central Ave Fire

UPDATE @ 1:32 a.m: Miamisburg firefighters are still battling a garage fire that occurred in the 700 block of E. Central Ave. early Tuesday morning.

TRENDING: 2 dead in multiple vehicle crash on I-675; south lanes closed

E. Central Avenue is closed between Eighth and Ninth Street while the incident is still being taken care of, per our crew.

RELATED: Hamilton homes evacuated after gas leak

FIRST REPORT

Crews responded to a fully engulfed structure fire in the 700 block of E. Central Avenue in Miamisburg, per initial reports.

The fire was reported just after midnight on Tuesday.

Miamisburg police, fire, and medics are on scene.

We have a crew on the way to the scene and will update this story with more details as they develop. 

((Courtesy: Robert Dale))

Man accused of ‘marrying’ 11-year-old stepdaughter, holding her captive for 19 years

Published: Monday, October 16, 2017 @ 5:18 PM

Man Accused Of ‘Marrying’ 11-Year-Old Stepdaughter, Holding Her Captive For 19 Years

An Oklahoma man was arrested in Mexico earlier this month amid allegations that he “married” his 11-year-old stepdaughter in a van, abducted her and kept her captive as his “wife” for nearly 20 years. 

Henri Michele Piette, 62, is charged with first-degree rape, two counts of lewd molestation and child abuse by injury, according to Oklahoma court records. He was taken into custody Oct. 5 in Mexico, where he lived with the victim and their children for years after her alleged abduction. 

The Oklahoman reported that the now 33-year-old victim, Rosalynn Michelle McGinnis, is speaking out about her ordeal since returning to the United States. Court records show that McGinnis escaped captivity last year with eight of her nine children and found her way to a U.S. Embassy in Mexico, where she received help. 

Her oldest child, a boy, had already run away from the remote village in which they lived. McGinnis told People magazine in August that she has since been reunited with her son. 

Piette was still at large and under investigation by federal investigators when McGinnis first detailed her ordeal and subsequent escape. 

“I knew that if I didn’t get out of there, I’d either go insane or I would end up dying and leaving my kids with that man,” McGinnis told the magazine.

She alleged in her interview that she was raped, beaten, stabbed, choked and shot during her captivity.  

Piette, who has since been returned to Wagoner County for prosecution, told Fox23 News in Tulsa last week that he’s innocent. 

“Most of it are lies,” he told the news station as he shuffled into a courtroom for a hearing, surrounded by deputies. “Ninety-nine percent are lies. I’m telling the truth.”

He also denied raping McGinnis.

“I never raped any children. I made love to my wife,” Piette said. “We were married.”

McGinnis told investigators that Piette first raped her at the age of 11 at their home in Wagoner, the Oklahoman reported. He later “married” her in the back of a van, giving her a ring.

Piette’s son told FBI investigators in January that he performed the “ceremony” for his father. The son was 15 at the time.

McGinnis told People that her “marriage” to Piette took place the day before he legally married her mother. 

McGinnis’ mother later left Piette because of abuse in the home, the Oklahoman said. She and her daughter were living at a woman’s shelter in Poteau, about 100 miles southeast of Wagoner, when Piette abducted the girl in January 1997 from her new school. 

Piette introduced McGinnis to his children as their new mother, court records obtained by the newspaper showed. In the subsequent years, they moved frequently, living in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana and Idaho before moving on to Mexico.

“McGinnis stated that she was sexually assaulted multiple times a day almost every day while she was with Piette,” the court documents read.

>> Read more trending news

Piette would return to Oklahoma occasionally and make McGinnis mail letters from there so authorities would believe she was still living somewhere in the state, she told investigators. He also changed everyone’s names often to stay hidden.

McGinnis told People that, at the age of 18, she was forced by Piette to get her name and photo taken off national missing persons’ lists. 

“He parked three blocks down the road from the Phoenix Police Department, and he had three of my children,” she told the magazine. “He told me what to tell them. He said that if I didn’t come back within two hours, I would never see my children again.”

McGinnis said she walked into the police station and told officers that she had run away from home at 12 because her parents were drug addicts and that “nice people” had taken her in and raised her. Police, with no evidence to the contrary, were forced to believe her. 

She returned to Piette and her captivity, where she remained for another 13 years. In that time frame, she had another six children by her alleged abductor. 

Dayton traffic from the WHIO Traffic Center

Published: Monday, October 09, 2017 @ 1:48 AM
Updated: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 1:12 AM

SCENE: Rollover crash on Riverview Avenue
SCENE: Rollover crash on Riverview Avenue

Check this page for a full list of crashes, disabled vehicles, construction projects and other hazards impacting your commute.

Traffic issues can be reported by calling our newsroom at 937-259-2237 or tweeting @WHIOTraffic .

Traffic conditions are updated every six minutes on AM 1290 and News 95.7 FM.

RELATED: Find the lowest gas prices in your neighborhood with our Pump Patrol

Major Highway Incidents

  • On I-675 South at Wilmington Pike in Centerville, all southbound lanes are closed due to a fatal crash reported around 11:23 p.m. 

Surface Street Incidents

  • On E. Central Avenue in Miamisburg between Eighth and Ninth St, road is closed for a fully engulfed fire in the 700 block reported around 12:30 a.m. 

RELATED: Check for delays or cancellations before heading to the airport

Ongoing Construction & Other Closures 

Live look at highways on our traffic cameras here.

Latest traffic conditions are also available on our traffic map. 

MONTGOMERY COUNTY

  • Alex-Bell Road will be closed for work on the Washington Twp. bridge over Holes Creek until Nov. 30. More information, including detour information, is available here.
  • A half-mile of Stroop Road in Kettering between Woodman Drive and Glenheath/Braddox intersection will be closed until the end of the year so a bridge can be replaced. .
  • I-70 eastbound Ramp to I-75 south, Lane closure on the ramp Oct. 19 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. One lane will remain open in each direction.
  • I-70 east between I-75 and SR 202, Nightly lane closures Oct. 14 - 21 between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. These will become double lane closures between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. One eastbound lane will remain open.
  • I-75 north Ramp to US 35 west, Overnight RAMP CLOSURE Oct. 23 at 10 p.m. - Oct. 24 at 6 p.m. The official detour is: I-75 north to Second Street to I-75 south to US 35 west. 
  • I-75 north/Stewart Street Ramp to US 35 East ramp closure March 28 - Oct. 21. The official detour is: Stewart Street to Edwin C. Moses Boulevard to I-75 north to US 35 west to James H McGee Blvd. to Us 35 east
  • I-75 between I-70 and SR 571, nightly lane closures between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. through Oct. 31. The northbound side will become a double lane closure between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. One lane will remain open in each direction.
  • I-75 south between Needmore Road and Stanley Avenue, Nightly lane closure Oct. 18 - 20 between 10 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. One southbound lane will remain open.
  • Shroyer Road between Gainsborough Road and East Dorothy Lane will be repaved and reconfigured through at least October. Once the project is completed, Shroyer Road will be reduced to three lanes. 
  • SR 48 between I-70 and Phillipsburg-Union Road, Nightly lane closures Oct. 15 - 21 between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. One lane will remain open in each direction.
  • The Webster Street bridge is closed as it is rebuilt. A detour will take drivers to Keowee Street to Monument Avenue. The project is scheduled to be completed in November. 
  • US 35 between Edwin C. Moses Boulevard and Germantown Street, Nightly lane closures Oct. 19 - 20 between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. One lane will remain open in each direction.
  • US 35 eastbound Ramp  to I-75 north, Nightly RAMP CLOSURE Oct. 19 - 20 between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. The official detour is: US 35 east to I-75 south to the turnaround a Edwin C. Moses and head back onto I-75 north.

MIAMI COUNTY 

  • I-75 between CR 25A (Troy) and US 36, shoulder closures through Oct. 31.
  • I-75 between CR 25A (Troy) and US 36, Nightly lane closures Oct. 16 - 21 between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. One lane will remain open in each direction.
  • I-75 between SR 571 and Northwoods Boulevard, Nightly lane closures Oct. 16 - Nov. 10 between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. These will become double lane closures at 9 p.m. One lane will remaim open at all times. 
  • West Peterson Road at Piqua Troy Road, ROAD CLOSURE through Oct. 21. The official ODOT detour is westbound: Piqua Troy Road to Statler Road to CR 25A north to Eldean Road to Piqua Troy Road. Eastbound: West Peterson Road to Troy Sidney Road to Statler Road to Piqua Troy Road.

CLARK COUNTY  

  • I-70 east ramp to I-675 north, RAMP CLOSURE through Oct.31. The official detour is: I-675 to SR 444 to I-675 north.

DARKE COUNTY 

  • SR 721 between Childrens Home-Bradford Road and Horatio Harris Creek, BRIDGE CLOSURE Oct. 2 - 23. The official detour is: SR 185 to SR 48 to US 36.
  • SR 722 between Emrick Road and US 127, ROAD CLOSURE Oct. 9 - 30. The official detour is: SR 726 to US 40 to US 127.
  • SR 705 between Lightsville - Northern and Cochran Road, ROAD CLOSURE Oct. 30 - Nov. 10. The official detour is: SR 49 to SR 119 to SR 118.
SHELBY COUNTY  
  • SR 29 between Cisco Road and West Russell Road, shoulder closures through Nov. 17. *There could be intermittent lane closures in this area between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • SR 219 between State Street and Taylor Road, Daily lane closures Sept. 27 - Oct. 31 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. One lane will remain open  for travel in each direction through the use of flaggers.
  • SR 66 between Mason Road and Dirksen Road, Daily lane closures Sept. 27 - Oct. 31 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. One lane will remain open for travel in each direction through the use of flaggers. 
  • SR 705 between McClure Road and North Kuther Road, ROAD CLOSURE Oct. 16 - 19. The official detour is: SR 29 to SR 119 to SR 66.

Hostage shot by police nine times during bank robbery files lawsuit

Published: Monday, October 16, 2017 @ 11:57 PM

(FOX23.com)
(FOX23.com)

A woman taken hostage during a deadly bank robbery filed a lawsuit against a law enforcement agency for more than $75,000 after being injured. 

>> Read more trending news

Officers shot Julie Huff nine times while trying to take down Cedric Norris. Norris was supposed to be in prison in Texas when he robbed the Bank of Eufaula. 

Norris walked into the bank and shot and killed Randy Peterson. He shot another employee and then took Huff, who had been in the bank as a customer, as his hostage. 

Her attorneys say the gunfire from police left her disabled, unable to work and feeling that her quality of life had decreased. 

KOKI-TV tried to contact the defendants listed in the two lawsuits. Some have not returned calls, while others were advised not to comment on the pending litigation. 

Her attorneys sent the following statement:

Julie Huff was an innocent customer at the Bank of Eufaula when she was taken hostage. The Bank failed have proper security measures in place which caused her to be taken hostage and then severely injured. The Bank had multiple, unmonitored entrances and exits which encouraged this armed robbery. The Bank also failed to have an armed security guard which is in violation of proper banking standards. Further, the Law Enforcement officers knew Ms. Huff was an innocent hostage yet they deliberately shot her nine (9) times. Not one of the nine (9) bullets which hit Ms. Huff came from the kidnapper. All the bullets came from the law enforcement officers—one of whom shot her with an AR15. She was severely injured and has undergone many surgeries. Ms. Huff feels very lucky to be alive, but she has been permanently scarred and injured as a result of the failures of the Bank of Eufaula and the reckless and careless actions of law enforcement.