News from around Ohio

Associated Press

Columbus graduates new cops as violence continues

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s largest city has graduated its latest class of police recruits at a time of soaring street violence.

Columbus recorded 143 homicides last year, four more than the number of people killed in 1991 during the crack cocaine epidemic.

The city saw its first homicide of 2018 just 14 minutes into the New Year when police say a man shot his wife who later died at a hospital.

Later the same day a shooting killed a pregnant woman whose baby doctors were able to save.

Police spokesman Sgt. Dean Worthington said the 33 officers who graduated Friday brings the total number of Columbus officers to about 1,880.

Jason Pappas, president of the union representing Columbus officers, says an additional 200 personnel are needed.

Delivery driver finds man who froze to death

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Authorities say a 64-year-old Ohio man whose body was found on the front porch of his home by a meal delivery driver froze to death.

The Akron Beacon Journal reports the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office on Thursday confirmed that Darnell Wilson, of Akron, died of hypothermia.

His body was found Tuesday by a woman delivering food for the Mobile Meals program. The high temperature in Akron reached just 14 degrees that day.

It’s unclear how long Wilson had been on the partially enclosed porch before his body was found.

Lawyer: Man thought host directed him to kill mother

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio man who reportedly believed “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak instructed him to kill his elderly mother has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

The Akron Beacon Journal reports that a judge made the ruling Thursday in the murder case against 48-year-old Derrick Williams.

Defense attorney Brian Pierce says the Williams believed he was getting messages from the TV game show when he heard his hometown mentioned. He thought Sajak was telling him to kill his mother when Sajak said, “Do it.”

Pierce says Williams was off his medication and “clearly was psychotic.”

Williams’ sister called 911 after discovering her mother’s body in December 2016 and told dispatchers her brother was mentally ill and likely responsible.

‘Safe Ride’ driver jailed for violating bond

HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) — A man who has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexually assaulting two female college students in Ohio in the vehicle he drove for his “Sherman’s Safe Ride” taxi service has been jailed following claims he violated terms of his bond.

Sherman Jackson II was taken into custody Wednesday in Butler County.

A judge previously set bond at $65,000 and ordered Jackson not to operate his taxi service. Prosecutors say Jackson was reportedly riding in the passenger seat while an employee operated the taxi. Oxford police allege Jackson harassed employees at a gym that terminated his membership.

A message was left for Jackson’s attorney.

Jackson was charged with rape and sexual battery after two Miami University students alleged he assaulted them in his vehicle when they used the taxi service.

Judge orders treatment for man fixated on belly buttons

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio judge has extended the probation of an autistic man who fixates on belly buttons, ordering him to attend an in-patient treatment program for sexual offenders.

Graig Burrier pleaded guilty to sexual battery in 2012 and received probation for attacking a 19-year-old pregnant woman in a stairwell and insisting he had to touch her belly button to pledge a fraternity. Authorities say he has continued asking to touch women’s belly buttons during his probation.

The Akron Beacon Journal reports Summit County prosecutors had pushed to send the 29-year-old from Stow to prison for violating probation.

Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands extended Burrier’s probation Thursday by ordering him to attend a residential program in Minnesota followed by supervision at a halfway house there.

Burrier’s attorney says Rowlands’ decision makes “perfect sense.”

Associated Press