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Castro appears in court, pleads not guilty
Other morning headlines: Disciplined officers plan appeals, excessive force investigation continues; VA says Cleveland office not to blame; Push continues for Medicaid expansion

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
  • Castro appears in court, pleads not guilty
  • Disciplined officers plan appeals
  • Push continues for Medicaid expansion
  • Wind, hail and thunderstorms forecast for tonight
  • VA says Cleveland office not to blame for mass deletion
  • Bridge bomb-plotting suspect denies planning to push detonator
  • Exotic animal regulations up for debate today
  • Veterans' experience counts in state licenses and education
  • Gay teacher will not be rehired
  • Lou Reed thanks Cleveland Clinic for new liver
  • Ohio gas prices should head back down
  • Castro appears in court, pleads not guilty
    A Cleveland man pleaded not guilty in his first court appearance today on charges of holding three women captive in his home for a decade and raping them.

    Fifty-two-year-old Ariel Castro faces more than 300 counts following an indictment charging him with murder, kidnapping and rape.

    The murder charge involves Castro's allegedly starving and punching a pregnant woman in captivity until she miscarried.

    A Cuyahoga County grand jury returned the indictment Friday against the former Cleveland school bus driver, who was fired last fall.

    Disciplined officers plan appeals, excessive force investigation continues
    Appeals are planned by 12 Cleveland police supervisors disciplined for their roles in the chase in which officers fired 137 shots, killing a fleeing driver and his passenger. A sergeant was fired Tuesday, a captain and lieutenant were demoted and nine sergeants were suspended for up to 30 days.

    Union president Brian Betley calls the discipline heavy-handed and the dismissal extreme. Police don't know why the driver refused to stop. Some officers thought the car's occupants were armed, but no weapon or shell casings were found. Union leaders say police were justified in firing on the fleeing car because the driver tried to ram officers. 

    Meanwhile, Federal officials investigating use of force by Cleveland police are encouraging residents to share relevant stories about interactions with officers. About 200 people attended a community meeting yesterday with the U.S. attorney in Cleveland. Some said police had abused or neglected them.

    The Justice Department's civil rights investigation into the department's use of force looks beyond the chase to analyze several years of excessive force claims and police policies and training.

    VA says Cleveland office not to blame for mass deletion of home loan files
    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says human error is to blame for the accidental deletion of 464,000 electronic data files related to home loans. The VA says the problem originated at its IT center in Austin, Texas.

    A spokesman says earlier reports that the problem took place at the VA's regional office in Cleveland were incorrect.

    The VA says no personal information was jeopardized when the files were deleted last month. Deleted records included loans, grants and applications.

    The agency said staff will be retrained to help prevent the error from occurring again.

    Push continues for Medicaid expansion 
    Supporters of expanding Medicaid to include more low-income people are urging Ohio lawmakers to restore the proposal to the state budget.

    The group Advocates for Ohio's Future said Tuesday that it's open to separate legislation that achieves the same goal, as long as it's passed by June 30, the same deadline the budget faces.

    The governor's original budget proposal called for an expansion of Medicaid. But the Republican-led Legislature has kept the idea out of the budget bill.

    State lawmakers continue to examine ways to change the federal-state program for the poor and disabled, but leaders haven't set a deadline for action.

    The state's Medicaid director has said an expansion of the program would take six months to implement.

    Wind, hail and thunderstorms forecast for tonight
    A line of powerful thunderstorms will rumble through the Midwest tonight, with forecasters predicting hail, lightning and tree-toppling winds.

    Meteorologist are warning that the continuous line of storms may even spawn an unusual weather event called a derecho, which is a massive storm of strong straight-line winds spanning at least 240 miles.

    The risk of severe weather in Columbus and Cincinnati is roughly 45 times higher than on a normal June day.

    The storms are moving at about 40 mph and should hit Ohio this evening.

    Gay teacher will not be rehired at Columbus Catholic school
    The superintendent for a Columbus Catholic school district will not reinstate a gay teacher who is challenging her firing.

    Teacher Carla Hale says she was fired from Bishop Watterson High School after her partner's name was revealed in her mother's obituary notice.

    The local bishop says Hale was fired because she violated the church's moral teaching by having what he describes as a "quasi-spousal relationship" with a woman.

    Hale has filed a discrimination complaint with the city of Columbus.

    Exotic animal regulations up for debate today
    Owners of exotic animals in Ohio would be required to meet new caging, safety and caretaking standards under proposed rules slated for review today by a legislative panel.

    The regulations come as the state prepares to begin issuing new permits this fall to owners, who must obtain the permits by 2014 in order to keep their dangerous wildlife.

    The proposed rules are part of a state law that took effect last year.

    Owners will have to pass a background check, pay permit fees, obtain liability insurance and show inspectors they can properly contain the animal.

    Ohio officials could seize the animals if owners don't meet the state's requirements or are found housing an animal without a permit.

    Bridge bomb-plotting suspect denies planning to push detonator
    A prosecutor says an Ohio bridge bomb-plotting suspect planned to use a phone to detonate what he thought were real explosives.

    The phone and fake explosives were shown to jurors at the beginning of Joshua Stafford's federal trial Tuesday in Akron.

    No bomb went off and no one was injured in the plot last year. The intended target was the Rt 82 bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

    Stafford, who is representing himself, acknowledged that he can be seen in an infrared video taken by the FBI at the base of the bridge.

    But the 23-year-old Stafford said the evidence will show he did not intend to blow up the bridge.

    Veterans' experience counts in state licenses and education
    Gov. John Kasich has ordered veterans' military skills and service be taken into account for civilian job licenses and college credits.

    The order signed Tuesday by the governor requires state boards and commissions to consider military training when licensing and certifying veterans for civilian jobs. Kasich also is requiring that Ohio's Board of Regents work with the state's university system to find ways of awarding more college credit for military training and education.

    Kasich's order also requires state commissions and boards along with the Regents and universities to identify any state and federal barriers that might hurt veterans' efforts to get job licenses and college credits.

    The order notes the annual unemployment rate among Ohio's nearly 900,000 veterans was 7.6 percent last year.

    Lou Reed thanks Cleveland Clinic for new liver
    Rocker Lou Reed is confirming news that he came to Cleveland for a new liver.

    The 71-year-old founder of the Velvet Underground underwent a liver transplant at the Cleveland Clinic early last month.

    Reed’s wife, performance artist Laurie Anderson, says he’s back at work, and feeling “strong and energetic.”

    The Cleveland Clinic has one of the largest transplant programs in the nation, doing 143 liver transplants last year.

    Ohio gas prices should head back down
    Gasoline prices could be heading down again just ahead of the summer driving season. 

    Analysts say gas prices in the Midwest have spiked because of reduced supplies from two major refineries. 

    But an Illinois refinery is back online, and one in Indiana is ramping up production.

    Average prices for a gallon of regular have hovered near $3.90 in Ohio.

    Analysts say the worst may be over. 

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