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Georgia man who set ex-girlfriend on fire sentenced to life in prison

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 10:27 PM

Man Sentenced to Life In Prison For Setting Ex-Girlfriend On Fire

A Georgia man who poured gasoline on his ex-girlfriend and set her on fire was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility for parole, according to the Clayton County District Attorney’s office. 

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Mervin Woodard, 40, was found guilty of multiple felonies in the 2016 crime, which left Melita Curtis in a coma for two weeks. Curtis was burned over 25 percent of her body, but survived the attack. Six months before burning Curtis, Woodard also beat the woman, according to prosecutors. 

In the first incident, Woodard beat Curtis, put a knife to her throat and forced her to drive to an ATM to withdraw $600, the DA’s office said. Curtis told police that Woodard threatened to burn her house down with her inside. 

Then on June 1, 2016, Curtis came home from work and Woodard was waiting for her, prosecutors said. Curtis tried to run, but Woodard pulled her inside, threw gasoline on her and set her on fire, she told investigators. Woodard put out the fire with a plastic sink sprayer, then drove Curtis to Grady Memorial Hospital and dropped her off. Woodard was later found hiding in the woman’s home and was arrested. 

Curtis, a nurse, has been a longtime advocate for domestic violence victims through the Sistah Circle organization. 

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2 suffer serious injuries in Preble County motorcycle crash

Published: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 12:35 PM
Updated: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 2:14 PM

Carly Reis/Staff
Carly Reis/Staff

UPDATE @ 2:15 p.m.: 

Two occupants of a motorcycle suffered serious injuries and were flown to an area hospital following a three-vehicle crash on Ohio 122 in Preble County, according to state troopers. 

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Two vehicles, a gold car and a white pickup truck, were traveling north on Ohio 122 near Somers Gratis Road around 12:15 p.m. Monday. The gold car attempted to turn left into a driveway and crashed into the motorcycle traveling south, Sgt. Chris Colbert of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said. 

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Both occupants of the motorcycle sustained serious injuries and were flown to Miami Valley Hospital by a CareFlight medical helicopter. Their conditions were not immediately available. 

One of the occupants of the motorcycle was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, Colbert said. 

Additional details were not available and the crash remains under investigation. 

FIRST REPORT

At least one medical helicopter has been requested to a crash involving a motorcycle on Ohio 122 south of Gratis in Preble County Monday afternoon. 

Emergency crews were dispatched around 12:15 p.m. to the intersection of Ohio 122 and Somers Gratis Road on reports of a three-vehicle crash. 

Initial reports indicate two occupants of a motorcycle suffered serious injuries. At least one CareFlight medical helicopter responded to the scene, according to scanner traffic. 

We have a crew on the way and we’ll update this page as we learn more. 

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Dayton woman killed by stray bullet ‘was my everything,’ son says

Published: Saturday, May 19, 2018 @ 6:30 PM
Updated: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 7:23 AM

Dayton Shooting on Euclid Ave.

Update@1:43 p.m.:

Antwand Warren, Wheatley’s son, said Monday that he can’t fathom why anyone would shoot his mother. She was a wholesome person who helped everyone and had no enemies or no flaws, he said. 

“That was my mom, I loved her,” said Warren, who is a quadriplegic. “She was my angel, she was my everything, and somebody snatched that away from me.”

Warren said one of the t hings he will miss most about his mother is her cooking. She cooked everything Southern style, he said she he choked up. 

“ I want justice. That’s all, I want justice,” he said.

Neighbor aids woman wounded in stabbing

Wheatley had previously been the victim of violence. Four years ago was stabbed multiple times in her neck and other parts of her body. She told police then that she and Warren were attacked by her husband Stanley Wheatley, 48, because she wouldn’t give him money to buy crack. 

Stanley Wheatley was sentenced to prison for the attacks. 

Update@12:13 p.m.:

Wheatley, a grandmother, had just fed some neighborhood dogs and was walking back to her home when she was shot, neighbors said Monday. She died about a half block from home, neighbors said. 

There’s a makeshift memorial where Wheatley died, and it continues to grow.  

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Meanwhile, a man called 911 after hearing shots fired and seeing Wheatley lying on the ground, according to the 911 recording.

“Someone just got shot on Euclid... a lady is lying on the sidewalk,” the unidentified man said, later adding that he heard 12-15 shots. 

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First report:

An innocent bystander was fatally shot Saturday evening when she was walking near a house targeted by a drive-by shooting, police said.

Sherrell Wheatley, 62, of Dayton was the woman shot and killed, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office. 

Wheatley was an innocent bystander who suffered at least one gunshot wound as she was walking in the 800 block of North Euclid Avenue around 6:10 p.m. She was taken to Miami Valley Hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries, Dayton police Sgt. Creigee Coleman said.

Police investigate a fatal shooting May 19, 2018, in the 860 block of North Euclid Avenue in Dayton.(DeANGELO BYRD / STAFF)

“A vehicle driven by a male had another male inside the vehicle, and that male fired several rounds towards an unknown house in an attempt to probably cause damage to that house,” Coleman said.

The passenger fired five or six rounds, he said.

Aaron Taylor said the woman was his great aunt.

“I just happened to pull up, see my auntie in the grass dead,” he said.

He described his aunt as a sweet lady and matriarch of his family and the community.

“Definitely innocent bystander walking up the street,” Taylor said.

Police are searching for a silver Ford Taurus or similar four-door car, and also are asking for the public’s help to come forward with any information.

>> 2 men jailed in Dayton kidnapping, sex-related case

“Now this is a situation where a person was indiscriminately firing a weapon, a large-caliber weapon from what I’ve been told, at a house and a person who was innocent just happened to be walking by and got hit by a bullet that has no eyes,” Coleman said.

>> Visitation set for victims of man’s murder-suicide

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

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Police say they were asked to check on Fairfield teen before fatal crash

Published: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 10:50 AM
Updated: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 2:12 PM

One dead after single car crash in Fairfield

UPDATE @ 1:30 p.m.:

Police were asked to check on the welfare of a Fairfield teen Friday before he was killed in a fatal crash, according to the Fairfield Police Department.

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At about 1:47 p.m., police received a request to check on Luke Minerd’s welfare. He was not located at his home, and officers began checking city parks for Minerd’s car.

“An officer was checking Joyce Park when he saw a car matching the description of Minerd’s car. The officer approached the car on foot and attempted to make contact with the driver. The car took off at a high rate of speed and crashed shortly thereafter,” according to a statement released today by police.

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A GoFundMe account has been established in Minerd’s name.

The account says the 17-year-old was “a smart, loving and kind young man.”

“As a family, we were obviously not prepared to host a funeral service for Luke, at just 17 years of age. The funds of this campaign will go towards the cost of towing/impound fees (if any), and the funeral cost and arrangements, which we are deciding on as a family,” a statement on the online fundraising page.

Minerd was a junior at Fairfield High School, according to the GoFundMe page.

EARLIER REPORT:

A Fairfield teen was killed Friday afternoon in a single-car crash on Joe Nuxhall Way, according to the Butler County Coroner’s office.

FIRST REPORT: 1 person dead after car crash in Fairfield

Luke Minerd, 17, died at the crash scene that happened about 2:06 p.m., according to the Butler County Coroner’s Office.

Minerd died of multiple traumatic injuries, but his manner of death is listed as pending by the coroner’s office.

Emergency dispatchers received a call for a single-vehicle crash in the 200 block of Joe Nuxhall Way.

A white sedan hit a tree, according witnesses. Some of the gates to Joyce Park were closed Friday while investigators were at the scene.

Fairfield police have released no additional information about the fatal crash, only saying the investigation is ongoing.

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Rain delays force Lakota track star to miss graduation. Here’s the surprise he got today.

Published: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 1:30 PM

Lakota East High School track star Dustin Horter missed his graduation due to rain delays at state meet, but school officials moved fast to fix that.

Dustin Horter watched his dreams of graduating with his Lakota East High School classmates wash away last Friday in a series of rain delays at his state-qualifying track meet.

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A half-dozen downpours kept the track state champion — and one of the most honored student athletes in Lakota East’s history — from finishing his runs and then heading to his class’ commencement ceremony at the Cintas Center at Xavier University.

Friday evening after his track meet finally finished late he learned — via a text message from school officials — that he had missed the once-in-a-lifetime event.

But over the weekend Lakota officials hatched a plan, dashing together to put on a special Monday morning graduation ceremony just for Horter as part of the school’s annual parade honoring track and other spring sports teams qualifying for state tournaments.

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School officials scrambled to assemble a stage and podium, unpacked their ceremonial graduation gowns and as thousands of cheering Lakota students lined the school’s “main street” hallway, Horter was given his own, personal graduation ceremony complete with music and confetti.

“I honestly didn’t expect to go this big with setting up a stage and put it on Main Street,” said a wide-eyed and grateful Horter, who is both a national and state champion in track.

“To have the whole student population here witnessing it was pretty darn cool,” said Horter.

Lakota wanted to make sure it was special to reflect Horter’s extraordinary career at the Liberty Twp. high school.

He is a five-time state champion in track and the district’s record holder for the 800, 1600 and 3200 meter events.

And as of May 11, Horter holds the fastest one mile time in the country at 4:04 minutes and the fastest 3200 meter time in the nation at 8:48 minutes.

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But the true measure of Horter’s high school career for the Lakota Thunderhawks can’t only be measured by a stop watch.

Earlier this school year he was selected for the prestigious Thunderhawk of the Year.

Lakota East Principal Suzanna Davis said Horter was a natural choice because the award is voted on by faculty and staff at Lakota East to determine the recipient of this award.

“The Thunderhawk of the Year recognizes a well-rounded student who is actively involved in daily life at East. They epitomize what it means to be a Thunderhawk. Quite simply, they are Lakota East,” said Davis.

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“On Friday night, Dustin was running to qualify for regional champions and, unfortunately due to weather delays, he was unable to make it to the graduation ceremony,” she said. “It is our honor and pleasure to be able to present Dustin with his diploma in front of his family, friends and Lakota East family.”

“His mark will forever be felt at Lakota East High School,” said Davis.

Horter said “everybody kind of re-enacting everything was definitely special and definitely something I won’t forget.”

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