Ohio News Notebook


Canadian man sentenced in drug case

COLUMBUS — A Canadian passenger on a plane forced to make an emergency landing in Ohio with 290 pounds of cocaine onboard has been sentenced to just over five years in federal prison.

The Columbus Dispatch reports 46-year-old David Ayotte was sentenced to 63 months Thursday in Columbus after pleading guilty to a drug charge in June.

Ayotte was aboard a twin-engine plane that landed at Ohio University’s airport in March after an engine began smoking. The plane was met by local and federal authorities. The Windsor, Ontario-bound plane had been tracked by U.S. authorities after leaving the Bahamas.

Ayotte apologized in court through a French interpreter. His defense attorney said the criminal case has caused hardship for Ayotte’s family

The plane’s Canadian pilot, 48-year-old Sylvain Desjardins, awaits sentencing.

Mother pleads insanity in daughter’s death

CANTON — A woman has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity after her 5-year-old daughter’s body was found hidden in the family’s restaurant.

Mingming Chen, of Jackson Township, entered her plea during a court hearing on Thursday. The 29-year-old woman is facing charges including murder, tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse.

Authorities say Chen repeatedly punched her daughter, Ashley Zhao. Prosecutors say Chen’s husband, Liang Zhao, tried to revive his daughter before helping hide the body.

Police say the two falsely reported the girl missing on Jan. 9. Investigators found her body inside Ang’s Asian Cuisine in North Canton the next day.

Zhao pleaded guilty in September to charges including obstructing justice and gross abuse of a corpse. A murder charge against him was dropped.

Suspected thief’s mom reports him to police

COLUMBUS — Authorities say an Ohio mother called police after she recognized her son and another teen in surveillance photos taken during an alleged theft.

Police say security camera footage from a Columbus home captured the teens taking more than $6,000 worth of musical instruments, an iPad, Xbox and other electronics on Sept. 27.

Authorities posted the footage on social media last week asking for help in identifying the teens.

Columbus police said in a Facebook post on Thursday that one of the suspect’s mothers called with their names.

Police say charges are pending, and they thanked the mother for doing the right thing.

Officials: House explosion under investigation

DAYTON — An explosion has leveled a home in the Dayton area.

Authorities say the explosion was reported around 7 p.m. Thursday in Bethel Township near Dayton. Investigators with the township fire department say the home’s occupant was out of town at the time of the blast.

No injuries were reported, and there are no reports of damage to nearby homes.

Fire Lt. Andrew Porter says propane has been identified as the source of the explosion, but the cause is still under investigation.

Nearby residents say the blast knocked photographs off the wall, and a mushroom cloud was visible.

An investigation is ongoing.

Man arrested after random 911 calls

SEBRING — Police in Ohio say they’ve arrested a man after receiving random 911 calls for months from his apparently malfunctioning cellphone.

The Review in Alliance reports Sebring police arrested 33-year-old Nathan Hawkins Oct. 5 on a felony charge of disrupting public service. Hawkins’ attorney didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment Thursday.

Dispatchers in the northeast Ohio village say they received at least 20 emergency calls from Hawkins’ cellphone from January through August.

Police say they told Hawkins that he could have found ways to prevent the calls from continuing. Police say Hawkins told them that he sometimes sleeps with the phone in his pocket and it just calls 911.

Police indicate Hawkins was warned previously that he would be arrested if they continued receiving 911 calls for no reason.

Concrete slab falls, kills worker

CLEVELAND — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the death of a construction worker who police say was killed when a concrete panel fell on him from an aerial lift in Cleveland.

The worker has been identified as 56-year-old Joseph Matulis, of Akron. He was pronounced dead at the construction site at Cleveland State on Wednesday.

An OSHA spokesman said Thursday that Matulis was working for a Cleveland company called Coleman Spohn that’s involved in work on a building on the campus located on the edge of downtown. The project’s general contractor, Rhode Island-based Gilbane Building Company said Wednesday that Matulis was a pipefitter.

A police report says the man operating the aerial lift told officers the panel slipped as it was being removed and struck Matulis on the head.

Man gets life sentence for park shooting

AKRON — Federal authorities say an Ohio man who pleaded guilty to attempted murder for shooting a woman at a national park has been sentenced to life in prison.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Ohio’s northern district says 28-year-old DeZay Ely was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Akron in the July 2016 shooting at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The judge sentenced the Akron man to 20 years for attempted murder and a life sentence for discharging a weapon during a crime of violence.

Prosecutors say Ely test-fired a gun before shooting the woman in the head, leaving her with “lifelong, serious injuries.”

Authorities had said Ely wanted to kill the woman to prevent her from revealing robbery plans.

Ely’s public defender didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.


Associated Press

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