Morning Headlines: Bill Outlines Proper Disposal of Ohio Flags; Former death row inmate files suit

Feb 19, 2018

Here are your morning headlines for Monday, Feb. 19:

  • Chardon school administrators cleared in school shooting;
  • Ohio man who narrowly escaped death row files suit against prosecutors;
  • CSU opts out of consulting fee for new president;
  • Cuyahoga County officials seek answers in corruption probe;
  • Man accused of killing two Westerville officers transferred to jail;
  • Cleveland's East Side has three weekend homicides within 24 hours;
  • High winds complicate shutdown of natural gas well that caught fire;
  • House lawmakers approve bill for proper disposal of old Ohio flags;

Chardon school administrators cleared in school shooting
A judge has ruled that five former administrators at Chardon High School are not liable for a shooting there six years ago. The administrators, including the district's superintendent, were the last remaining defendants in a lawsuit filed after student T.J. Lane opened fire in the school cafeteria in February 2012. Three students — Daniel Parmertor, Russell King Jr. and Demetrius Hewlin — were killed. Another student was permanently disabled. A lawsuit filed on the second anniversary of the shootings claimed that Chardon schools, the school board and the five administrators failed to provide security that could have prevented the shootings while Lake Academy Alternative School, where Lane was a student, didn't properly evaluate the risks he posed. None of the administrators still work for the Chardon schools.

Ohio man who narrowly escaped death row files suit against prosecutors
A Canton man who narrowly escaped execution is suing Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, police, prosecutors and the forensic investigator in his case. Kevin Keith is demanding that they revisit key evidence he says would have led to his acquittal. The federal civil suit claims Keith's 1994 aggravated murder conviction was based on "bad faith" actions that are now coming to light.

CSU opts out of consulting fee for new president
Cleveland State University says it will no longer pay its new president a consulting fee before he takes office. Harlan Sands, 54, was originally going to be paid $125,000 which the university claimed was for services to ease the transition. Cleveland.com reports CSU will instead begin Sands’ appointment a month early and avoid the fee. Sands is replacing retiring CSU president Ronald Berkman.

Cuyahoga County officials seek answers in corruption probe
The president of Cuyahoga County Council is seeking answers about an ongoing corruption probe involving the county executive and a Westlake software contractor. The county prosecutor’s office last month subpoenaed County Executive Armond Budish’s office, seeking records involving contracts with Hyland Software. Investigators also sought information about Budish’s outgoing chief of staff, who was the county’s head of information technology. Investigators have not made any allegations or revealed the reason behind the probe. County Council President Dan Brady tells Cleveland.com he expects to learn more at this week’s human resources committee meeting.

Man accused of killing two Westerville officers transferred to jail
A Franklin County man accused of fatally shooting two officers has been sent to jail. Quentin Smith, 30, was being treated at a local hospital for injuries sustained in a shootout with police earlier this month. Smith was taken to the Franklin County Jail on Sunday. He’s charged with two counts of aggravated murder in the shooting deaths of two Westerville police officers. The county’s top prosecutor says Smith’s case is eligible for the death penalty.

Cleveland's East Side has three weekend homicides within 24 hours
Cleveland police are investigating three separate homicides within 24 hours on the city's East Side over the weekend. The owner of Priceless Consignment Boutique Store in Collinwood was shot and killed during a robbery early Saturday. Later in the day, a 32-year-old man was found dead at the scene of a shooting. That evening, officers discovered a body burning in a rubbish fire. No names have been released.

High winds complicate shutdown of natural gas well that caught fire
A company whose natural gas well exploded and caught fire in eastern Ohio says high winds are hindering experts from shutting down the well. XTO Energy spokeswoman Karen Matusic says outside experts managed to clear debris from the well pad Saturday morning but had to retreat because of high winds. The newly drilled well being readied for production exploded Thursday morning in Belmont County sending a plume of gas and brine into the air before igniting. Matusic says the experts brought in from Texas and Oklahoma must wait for the wind to subside to begin shut-down work. Residents from around 30 homes evacuated after the explosion haven't been able to return. Two dozen XTO workers were on the pad when it exploded. No injuries were reported.

House lawmakers approve bill for proper disposal of old Ohio flags
The Ohio House has approved a bill creating procedures for properly retiring the Ohio flag in similar fashion to the U.S. flag. Republican Representative Dick Stein of Norwalk says the idea for the legislation came from Brandon Tolle, a Boy Scout pursuing Eagle Scout rank in Stein's district. The representative credited Tolle for noting that Ohio didn't have a similar system for the state flag. The bill sets out procedures for dividing up the flag, reciting a preamble and pledge, and then burning the pieces. The bill goes now to the Ohio Senate.