I-Team Investigation: OVI offenders who keep driving

Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013 @ 11:27 AM
Updated: Thursday, April 25, 2013 @ 11:27 AM

Police and prosecutors have found a growing number of people with multiple drunk driving convictions who continue to drive even though they have lost their license.

In some extreme cases, people have even gone to prison for DUI and continued to drive once they are released.

Lisa Fannin, Assistant Clark County Prosecutor, identified their top offender as William Newman. Newman had already done time in prison for multiple DUI's and now is facing his 14th case. He was arrested less than a year after this stint in prison. "Obviously that did not deter him," Fannin said.

Tops on the list in Montgomery County is Michael Whalen, according to prosecutors in Dayton. Whalen is now in prison for his 15th DUI conviction.

While most DUI arrests involve no injuries, family members of people who have lost their lives in alcohol-related accidents would argue that the state needs to be much tougher on repeat offenders. Ella Hix lost a sister to one drunk driver and then lost a cousin in another crash. Hix said repeat offenders who continue to drive will only respond to punishment from judges. "They need to stay away from the low end of the spectrum and medium and move to the maximum."

Offenders are told up front by judges that driving again while on suspension is illegal. Yet some people continue to drive without a valid license.

At a recent court hearing in Dayton, Magistrate Colette Moorman questioned one offender who was caught driving under suspension after his first DUI. "Do you understand that you do not have a license to operate a vehicle in the state of Ohio?" He calmly replied "Now I understand."

Warren County is home to the top repeat offender overall. Curtis Sears, with a last known address in Franklin, racked up 24 convictions.

Police and the the Ohio Highway Patrol are constantly on the lookout for drunk drivers night and day. On a recent Monday afternoon, the I-Team went on patrol with trooper Steven Ilo. After stopping two cars for speeding, Ilo noticed another car not only going over the speed limit, but also swerving in traffic. After pulling the car over, the woman behind the wheel was put through a roadside sobriety test.

Her inability to complete the tasks,  coupled with her slurred speech, landed her in the back of the cruiser under arrest for DUI. Trooper Ilo said many drunk drivers are caught going too slow in traffic. According to Ilo, some even sit at traffic red lights for several minutes, while the lights go from red to green to red again.

Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck said since 2010 his office has convicted 31 people who were sent to prison for drunk driving. Six of those 31 cases involved fatalities.

What will it take to get repeat offenders off the road? Ella Hix, who loved a loved one because of a drunk driver, said tough enforcement and tough action by prosecutors and judges is necessary.

Assistant Prosecutor Lisa Fannin said the worst of the offenders may never stop driving. She believes the only way to protect other drivers is to send those people to prison.

Truck loses top beneath 'Graffiti Bridge'

Published: Saturday, January 14, 2017 @ 10:52 PM
Updated: Saturday, January 14, 2017 @ 10:52 PM


            Truck loses top beneath 'Graffiti Bridge'

A box truck lost its top driving beneath a bridge -- and an artist’s video camera caught the accident as it happened.

Artist Roger Fine was working on a “Happy Holiday” mural at the Graffiti Bridge, a former train trestle turned artistic landmark, when a rental truck careened down the street and lost its top on the low-clearance overpass.

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The video was seen live a few weeks ago by followers of The Graffiti Bridge Facebook page but a clip of the impact was posted Friday.

A “Here’s Your Sign” T-Shirt, emblazoned with the image of a 10-foot, 8-inch yellow clearance sign, is for sale through the landmark’s website.

“We all know the inspiration behind this shirt, and well... It happened again,” the description reads. “It seems another truck driver ignored the signs and wanted to test the strength of his truck, and #TheGraffitiBridge won again.”

Truck drivers who hit the bridge can get a shirt for free. And while the bridge has been hit numerous times, no one has yet to take them up on the offer.

Police: Elderly woman hears grandson stab her daughter to death

Published: Tuesday, December 20, 2016 @ 10:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday, December 20, 2016 @ 10:00 AM


            Police: Elderly woman hears grandson stab her daughter to death

An elderly Texas woman listened helplessly over the phone Friday night as her grandson stabbed her daughter to death, police said.

Dedré Jefferson and her mother, Ella Jefferson, were worried about Blake Jefferson, a 22-year-old student at Texas Southern University, according to police. ABC 13 in Houston reported that Blake had begun having “spiritual visions” and, on a recent Sunday, ran into a local church and interrupted services to tell the congregation about those visions.

Dedré Jefferson, a former longtime teacher who last year was elected to the Alief ISD’s board of trustees, had made an appointment for her son to talk to someone about his mental health on Friday, a family friend told the news station.

That appointment came too late.

The Houston Chronicle reported that Ella Jefferson, 73, got a phone call around 2 a.m. Friday from her 48-year-old daughter, who told her that Blake Jefferson was acting strange. She said she thought her son had taken some pills.

Ella Jefferson told her daughter to run away and find help.

“I can’t. He’s stabbing me,” Dedré Jefferson told her mother just before the phone went dead, the Chronicle reported.

Ella Jefferson called police and drove to the townhouse that her daughter and grandson shared. She also called the family’s minister, Gregg Patrick, who met her in front of the home.

“She was screaming, ‘I think he killed my daughter,’” Patrick told the newspaper.

When sheriff’s deputies arrived, they and Ella Jefferson found Dedré Jefferson’s body in the garage of the home. She had been stabbed multiple times.

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Blake Jefferson was arrested for murder a short time later in a neighboring townhouse after breaking into the unit and hiding in a closet, the Chronicle said.

Family and friends are left trying to figure out why the young man, who had no criminal record, attacked his mother.

“At this point, we have no idea what the argument was, or if there was even an argument,” Harris County sheriff’s Sgt. Ben Beall told the Chronicle.

KHOU reported that Blake Jefferson sobbed loudly Monday morning during a brief court appearance in his case. He is being held without bond in the Harris County jail.

A candlelight vigil was held Monday night to remember Dedré Jefferson, who Alief ISD Superintendent H.D. Chambers described as a “proud Alief ISD graduate, former employee and current board member.”

School board members also released a statement in which they said they are “devastated by the tragic loss” of their friend and colleague.

“You will not find a bigger advocate for public education than Dedré Jefferson,” the statement read. “She made a lasting impression on everyone she met in the community. Her impact will be felt for a very long time in Alief. She will be missed by many.”

Jefferson’s funeral is set for Thursday. 

New restaurants, retail shops coming to Oxford

Published: Friday, October 28, 2016 @ 2:25 PM
Updated: Saturday, October 29, 2016 @ 4:37 PM

New restaurants and retail shops are coming to a development on the former Walmart site in Oxford.

Bishop Square — a 50,000-square-foot mixed use development at 419 Locust Street that currently includes 272 units of student housing — is adding Marco’s Pizza, Tim Hortons, a Sprint retail store and a bank.

“The final stage is important because we’ll be building the outlots that sit along Locust, which will serve as the front door to the whole project,” said Josh Rothstein, of Blue Ash-based OnSite Retail Group, which is handling marketing and leasing for the project. “The retailers and restaurants are excited to open their locations here because being across from Kroger, TJ Maxx and Dollar Tree provides tremendous exposure, great visibility and easy access to the shoppers already passing through this part of town.

“It’s also easily in walking distance to not only the concentration of Miami’s campus, but also the off-campus housing population,” Rothstein said.

Two other storefronts on the site are being are in the process of being leased, he said.

Existing Bishop Square tenants include Oxford Lane Library, Mercy Health - Orthopaedics and Sports Rehabilitation, Great Clips and Cloud 9 Vapor Lounge. A second-floor above some of those tenants includes office space.

Alan Kyger, Oxford’s economic development director, said the community is excited to see the Bishop Square project moving into its final phases.

“In 2005, when Walmart moved away from this site, the abandoned building that was left behind was a large eyesore for the Tollgate Business District, as well as for the whole community,” Kyger said. “Developer Robert Fiorita is to be commended in providing such a good-looking redevelopment project.

“The addition of these merchants will provide the citizens of Oxford additional shopping options. I expect each of these new businesses to be very successful in this new development.”

Marco’s Pizza has 700 stores in 35 states, doubling in size over the last five years and on track to 1,000 stores by the end of 2017, according to the company. Area locations include Middletown, Monroe, Hamilton and Liberty Twp. in Butler County.

Tim Hortons has more than 4,400 locations in the United States, Canada and the Middle East. Area locations include Monroe, Springboro and Maineville in Warren County.

Mother, 25, sent to prison in infant’s death

Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012 @ 5:11 PM
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 @ 7:06 PM

A 25-year-old mother convicted of involuntary manslaughter and child endangering in the 2009 death of her 6-month-old son was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison.

Amber Gipson was convicted on Sept. 4 on single counts of each crime, the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office said.

Her son was found dead July 29, 2009, in a laundry basket beside a bed in which she was sleeping, according to police. Toxicology tests found cocaine in the blood streams of Gipson, who was 23 at the time, and the baby.

The county coroner ruled the cause of death as positional asphyxia.

“This mother utterly failed to protect her child from harm,” Heck said. “Parents have a responsibility to care for their children and cannot do that when they are high on cocaine, as this mother was.”

According to court records, Gipson has a long arrest record, including for prostitution-related offenses. In 2005, she served six months for grand theft auto. In 2006, she served six months for drug trafficking in crack cocaine.