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Published: Sunday, December 03, 2017 @ 8:00 AM
COLUMBUS — UPDATE @ 9:31 a.m. (Dec. 5):
The hearing at the Ohio Supreme Court for Austin Myers, 22, of Clayton, has begun. Myers stabbed Justin Back to death in Warren County in January 2014.
Myers was convicted for the murder and was sentenced to death. He appealed that decision.
On Tuesday, the Ohio Supreme Court is to preside over a legal debate over whether the death penalty should be executed on a young Clayton man - the second youngest on Ohio’s Death Row - for the murder of an even younger Warren County man at his home outside Waynesville in January 2014.
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell will personally argue for the state to continue forward toward the execution of Austin Myers, now 22, of Clayton, although another Clayton man, Timothy Mosley - like Myers 19 years old at the time - actually stabbed to death Justin Back, 18, a 2013 Waynesville High School graduate about to enter the U.S. Navy.
“Austin Myers killed Justin. Tim was his weapon of choice,” Fornshell said last week, quoting Back’s stepfather, Mark Cates, a local prison guard.
It will be Fornshell’s first appearance before the high court on behalf of Warren County.
RELATED: Ohio House passes ‘Justin’s Law’
Lawyers appointed to appeal Myers’ death sentence have identified 18 violations of law they claim should convince the state’s high court to set aside his death sentence, including his age and the lesser sentence - life in prison without parole - Mosley received in exchange for his testimony.
Three years later, Myers is still the second youngest of 140 Ohio prisoners facing the death penalty. Damantae Graham, 20, convicted of killing a Kent State University student, is the only one younger.
Myers’ lawyers also claim errors or misconduct by the judge, prosecutors and defense lawyers in the case, decided more than three years ago in Warren County Common Pleas Court, should convince the high court, including appointed Judge Cynthia Westcott Rice of Ohio’s 11th District Court of Appeals, to spare his life.
“Mr. Myers’s rights under the Constitution of the United States and the Ohio Constitution were violated and he was denied a fair trial and sentencing proceeding. Accordingly, this Court should reverse and discharge the defendant or grant a new trial. In the alternative, this Court should vacate the death sentence, remand for a resentencing hearing, and order the life sentence imposed,” lawyer Timothy McKenna said in his brief to the high court.
The appeal, pending since Oct. 27, 2014, was set for oral arguments on Oct. 20, after a second Ohio Death Row inmate was executed. These came after the postponement of scheduled executions starting in January 2014 following problems during the execution of Dennis McGuire, a Preble County man.
Rice was appointed to the high court on Nov. 6, replacing Justice Bill O’Neill, who recused himself after announcing he was running for governor.
Myers and Mosley were arrested in July 2014 after Back’s mutilated body was found in Preble County, in a wooded area outside Versailles known as Crybaby Bridge. They both gave statements during interrogation at the Clayton Police Department used by investigators in reconstructing the crime, according to police and court records.
According to their statements, Mosely’s testimony and other evidence, after a day of preparation and planning, Myers and Mosley went to Back’s home in a small neighborhood along the Little Miami River, east of Waynesvile. With a garrote - fashioned by a friend who was not charged - Mosley came up behind Back and began choking him, while Myers restrained Back. When the garrote caught on Back’s chin, Mosley pulled out a knife and stabbed Back to death.
After cleaning the home and stealing Back’s iPod and wallet, as well as a gun and safe belonging to Cates, Mosley and Myers removed Back’s body, dumping it in Preble County after dousing it with chemicals to quicken decomposition. Before leaving the body, Myers shot it twice with Cates’ gun.
At trial, prosecutors convinced the jury that Myers was the mastermind of the crime and he was sentenced to die. Mosley, in exchange for his testimony, was sentenced in a plea bargain to life without parole.
Mosley was represented by Dennis Lieberman, a lawyer hired by Mosley’s family. Myers was represented by Greg Howard and John Kaspar, appointed by the court.
But Fornshell said Mosley got the deal because - unlike Myers- he offered to cooperate. Prosecutors needed one or the other to “put in the back story,” Fornshell said.
In addition, Fornshell said Mosley accepted responsibility and Myers was “exponentially more dangerous,” pointing to evidence indicating Myers handled the bulk of the planning and wanted to go back and kill Cates.
“He’s a serial killer who got caught the first time,” Fornshell added.“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind.”
McKenna and co-counsel Roger Kirk did not respond to requests for interviews.
But their 110-page brief indicates they will emphasize Myers “was a 19 year-old immature adolescent with behavioral issues” who should be spared the death penalty, in part because Mosley’s sentence spared his life, although he wielded the murder weapon.
In addition, they claim prosecutors rendered Myers’ lawyers “admittedly ineffective” by withholding evidence until “on the Friday eve before the Monday trial,”as well as the fact that Mosley was to be a witness.
The appeal is to be the first of a series of cases heard on Tuesday and Wednesday.
All arguments are streamed live online at sc.ohio.gov and broadcast live and archived on the Ohio Channel, according a release from the high court.
Published: Sunday, June 17, 2018 @ 5:42 PM
A wreck in Middletown on Sunday afternoon sent a motorcyclist to the hospital via helicopter.
Officials were not immediately able to provide many details about the crash, which happened at Grand Avenue and Burton Road, according to an Ohio State Highway Patrol dispatcher. The patrol was assisting Middletown police at the scene.
Officials believe it involved a collision with a vehicle, and the motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet, a dispatcher said.
Published: Sunday, June 17, 2018 @ 4:05 AM
Updated: Sunday, June 17, 2018 @ 12:00 PM
SPRINGFIELD — UPDATE @ 12 p.m.:
Jahream Beard, 35, died at the scene of the shooting outside of the Wagon Wheel in Springfield Sunday morning, according to Springfield police.
UPDATE @ 8:31 a.m.:
The two male victims injured in the shooting at Wagon Wheel were taken to Springfield Regional Medical Center with apparent non-life threatening injuries, according to Springfield police.
One man in his 30’s died at the scene, according to officials.
Police confirmed an altercation occurred outside the Wagon Wheel when someone pulled a gun at one point.
It’s not known who fired the gun or how many shots were fired at this time.
The deceased victim’s body was transported to Clark County Coroner’s Office.
South Burnett Road was reopened as vehicles are being towed.
The incident is still under investigation, police said.
UPDATE @ 5:12 a.m.:
Bureau of Criminal Investigation units arrived on scene at Wagon Wheel bar on 1005 S. Burnett Rd. after a fatal shooting left a male dead and two injured.
The injured victims were transported to an area hospital for unknown injuries. Police confirmed they are both male.
Police have not released the victims’ identities.
At this time, S. Burnett Rd. has been closed off.
UPDATE @4:30 a.m.:
Police have confirmed crime units and an investigator are on scene of a fatal shooting at Wagon Wheel bar in the 1000 block of S. Burnett Road.
The shooting took place early Sunday around 2:30 a.m. leaving one person, confirmed as a male, dead and two others injured.
Yellow crime scene tape has been placed around the deceased victim’s body that was found laying in the parking lot next to a vehicle.
Police have not released any information on the victims’ identities or if any suspects have been named.
A fatal shooting at Wagon Wheel bar located in the 1000 block of S. Burnett Rd. has left one dead and two others injured.
Conditions of the injured victims are unknown.
The shooting may have occurred some time early Sunday around 2:30 a.m. but is unconfirmed by police at this time. Police have also not confirmed if there are any suspects.
We are on scene and will update this story as more details become available.
Published: Saturday, June 16, 2018 @ 3:37 PM
— A major drug bust last week resulted in a seizure of $3.6 million worth of fentanyl in Clark County, which officials said continues the important work of the task force that was involved.
Following the surveillance of a Butler Twp. hotel, four men were arrested and face conspiracy to posses with intent to distribute more than 400 grams of fentanyl, a count that carries with it a minimum 10-year sentence with conviction.
Observations made by the Miami Valley Bulk Smuggling Task Force of activities on and near the hotel led to a consented search and retrieval of 50 pounds of marijuana in the garage, nine bricks of fentanyl and U.S. currency in “bands” or “stacks” in a closet.
A federal prosecutor said additional charges could be added to the 10-year minimum that all four men face. Detention hearings are scheduled for Monday.
This bust, which was reportedly linked to Mexican cartel activity, is the latest in the Miami Valley.
Here are four more notable stings that have occurred in the Dayton-area within past year:
Drug crackdown sting on Main Street
March 2018 — A major crackdown was carried out with connections to drug deals along North Main Street in Dayton and into other parts of the county.
One of the goals of the operation is to cut down on the drug-dealing that affects both sides of Main Street, officials said. Locations that were raided included a home off Gettysburg Avenue near Hoover Avenue, an apartment in the 4300 block of Old Riverside Drive and a home on Old Riverside Drive.
Montgomery County cocaine and heroin bust
February 2018 — Officials seized more than 50 pounds of cocaine and 1,100 grams of heroin. An undisclosed amount of cash and guns were also confiscated.
The seizures and arrests were the culmination of an 11-month investigation into a drug trafficking operation in and around Dayton, said Montgomery County Sheriff, Phil Plummer during a news conference.
The bust involved two operations carried out on two separate days— one resulting in the arrest of two men who had been selling large amounts of meth, heroin, cocaine and marijuana throughout the Miami Valley and another with the arrest of four people in possession of 20 pounds of cocaine.
Major carfentanil raid following investigation
August 2017 — A sting that occurred in August 2017 was significant due to the potential harm that could have come from a large quantity of carfentanil seized from a home in the 4500 block of Queens Avenue in Dayton, officials said. Detectives found approximately nine ounces of carfentanil, two handguns and about $20,000 cash, according to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
Carfentanil is a synthetic narcotic produced from morphine. It is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and had led to hospitalizations for police and paramedics who had come into contact with it while responding to overdose patients.
“A seizure of this quantity of carfentanil has the potential of saving hundreds of lives,” Plummer in a news release.
Dayton police arrest five in Dayton home raid
July 2017 — Five people were arrested in Dayton when neighbors complained about drug use and sales occurring at the suspected residence.
Sgt. John Sillivan from the Dayton Police Department Drug Enforcement Unit said the tips allowed police to get the search warrant that led to the seizure of a large amount of heroin, fentanyl and cocaine.
Published: Friday, June 15, 2018 @ 10:45 PM
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2018 @ 2:43 PM
— A Harrison Twp. man arrested after a shooting last month was indicted Friday on a weapons charge unrelated to the shooting.
Kenneth Wilson, 33, is charged with carrying concealed weapons, according to a Montgomery County grand jury report.
He is accused of carrying a concealed weapon May 7 when Montgomery County deputies were investigating the shooting of a woman in the 5200 block of Embassy Place in the Creekside Townhomes in Harrison Twp. The woman’s injuries were not life-threatening, deputies said.
Wilson is ordered to appear for arraignment June 28 in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.