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Castro's attorney prefers to avoid 'unnecessary trial'
Other headlines: Derecho a no-show in overnight storm; Bipartisan Medicaid bill to be introduced today; Ohio maintains third-highest foreclosure rate
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
  • Defense suggests plea in Castro case
  • Overnight storm results in power outages across multiple counties
  • Trial ends for bridge bomb-plotting suspect
  • Local CIA deputy director steps down
  • Budget committee sets to work on separate versions
  • State budget negotiations to exclude Medicaid
  • Task force looks at Ohio's capital punishment law 
  • Ohio foreclosure rate falls but still one of the nation's highest
  • Akron priest retires after serving prison sentence
  • Ohio House asks president, congress to process veterans' claims faster
  • Cleveland police training emphasizes pursuit education
  • Purchase of Ohio tire maker won't cut jobs at manufacturing plants
  • Defense suggests plea in Castro case
    The defense for a man accused of holding three women captive in his Cleveland home for about a decade is hinting a trial can be avoided with a plea if he escapes the death penalty.

    Defense attorney Craig Weintraub addressed the death penalty issue Wednesday after 52-year-old Ariel Castro pleaded not guilty to hundreds of charges, including rape and kidnapping.

    Weintraub says the defense is working to avoid an "unnecessary trial" involving the death penalty. Current charges involving an alleged forced miscarriage don't include death penalty specifications, but the prosecutor says that's under review.

    A statement on the behalf of the three women says the arraignment day was "not easy" and the women are hoping for a just and prompt resolution.

    Overnight storm results in power outages across multiple counties
    Storms overnight caused minor damage in the Buckeye State, although a flood warning remains in effect.

    The much-feared derecho winds were a no show, but two tornadoes are believed to have touched down south of Mansfield in Morrow County, no injuries were reported.

    Utility crews are restoring scattered power outages.  FirstEnergy reports a few thousand outages remain throughout its service area, mostly in Portage, Lake, Cuyahoga, and Geauga Counties.

    Around 5,000 AEP customers in Stark County are without power this morning.

    Central Ohio was hardest hit last night -  but about half the 20,000 homes without electricity have had power restored in the Columbus area.

    Trial ends for bridge bomb-plotting suspect
    The government has rested its case in the trial of a man accused of plotting to blow up a Cleveland-area bridge by using a cell phone to trigger explosives.

    Prosecutors' final witness, lead investigator Ryan Taylor of the FBI, identified defendant Joshua Stafford on Wednesday as a key member of the conspiracy.

    Stafford, who is representing himself, tried to downplay his role in his cross-examination of Taylor.

    No bomb went off and no one was injured in the plot. The intended target was a highway bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park between Cleveland and Akron.

    Four co-defendants previously pleaded guilty.

    Local CIA deputy director steps down
    A northeast Ohioan who served as number two at the CIA is stepping down.  Cuyahoga Falls-native Michael Morell announced his retirement Wednesday.

    Morell was passed over as CIA director when White House adviser John Brennan was tapped to lead the spy agency.

    Morell had been acting director after the January resignation of David Petraeus.

    During his 33-year stint at the CIA Morell defended harsh interrogation techniques and was involved with the fallout after the attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya.

    Morell graduated from the University of Akron with a degree in economics.

    He’s expected to take a seat on the presidents board of security advisors.

    Negotiators to work through House, Senate versions of the state budget
    A legislative panel of negotiators is scheduled to meet in Columbus today to begin sorting out differences between the House and Senate versions of the state budget.

    The six-member conference committee will gather this afternoon as legislators face a June 30 deadline to approve the spending bill.

    Taxes are among the top issues the committee expects to debate. The Senate 's version strips out a 7 percent statewide income-tax cut passed by the House in favor of small-business exemptions.

    The Ohio House on Wednesday unanimously rejected the Senate's changes to the almost $62 billion, two-year state budget.

    State budget negotiations to exclude Medicaid
    Senate President Keith Faber says Medicaid reform will not be part of the state's budget negotiations.

    The Celina Republican said Wednesday that a separate bipartisan bill for potential changes to Medicaid will be introduced today.

    Faber said majority Republicans in the Senate have long held that changes to Medicaid would not be part of the budget.

    Medicaid expansion is one of the key components of the federal Affordable Care Act.

    Roughly 366,000 Ohioans would be eligible for coverage under the expansion beginning in 2014 should it be approved.

    The panel meets today to hear updated state revenue and Medicaid caseload projections for the budget.

    Task force looks at Ohio's capital punishment law 
    A state Supreme Court task force is reconvening today to finish its work analyzing the effectiveness of Ohio's capital punishment law.

    The committee has examined everything from racial bias in death penalty cases to ways to improve the legal representation of capital defendants.

    Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor convened the task force while making it clear it won't debate whether the state should have the death penalty.

    The group includes judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and academic experts.

    Ohio foreclosure rate falls, remains one of the nation's highest
    The number of foreclosures in Ohio fell sharply in May, but the state still has one of the highest rates in the nation according to RealtyTrac.

    The number of foreclosures filed last month fell 27 percent from April, but Ohio still posted the third-highest rate in the country behind Florida and Nevada.

    Home sales are up in Cleveland, but Cuyahoga County still has the most foreclosure in the state with the highest concentrations in Maple Hts., Bedford, and Euclid.

    Summit County and the Toledo area also remain hard hit by foreclosures.

    Akron priest retires after serving prison sentence
    A northeast Ohio priest who embezzled money from an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center he founded has retired after serving a six-month prison sentence in a tax fraud case.

    The 70-year-old Rev. Samuel Ciccolini cited health reasons in his May retirement request.

    Ciccolini was a beloved figure around Akron, where people were shocked by his 2010 arrest. He admitted embezzling more than $1 million, but the money was repaid and he wasn't charged for that.

    A diocese spokesman says Ciccolini is banned from public ministry.

    Ohio House asks president, congress to process veterans' claims faster
    Ohio lawmakers want federal officials to reduce the processing time for veterans' disability claims.

    The Ohio House approved a resolution Wednesday urging President Obama, Congress and the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs to take prompt action to help veterans get needed treatment.

    Speaker William Batchelder says it’s "tragic" that many veterans are unable to get the treatment.

    The average time it takes for the VA to complete a disability claim increased from 161 to 260 days since 2009.

    The Governemnt Accounting Office says the number of backlogged claims awaiting a decision for more than 125 days has more than tripled.

    Cleveland police training emphasizes pursuit education
    Safety officials say the annual in-service training for Cleveland police is focusing more on handling pursuits in the wake of a November chase that ended with officers fatally shooting a driver and passenger.

    The Plain Dealer reports an attorney for the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association raised concerns about the quality of training after 12 supervisors were punished in connection with that chase. One supervisor was fired, two were demoted, and nine were suspended.

    Attorney Patrick D'Angelo says police chases are complicated and require comprehensive instruction. He says the November chase involving 60 patrol cars revealed a lack of training.

    City safety officials say a commander is now teaching a class on pursuits as part of officers' in-service training. That class had not been offered recently.

    Purchase of Ohio tire maker won't cut jobs at manufacturing plants
    The head of Ohio's Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. says a $2.2 billion deal that puts the company under new ownership won't result in the closings of its three U.S. manufacturing plants.

    Cooper chief executive Roy Armes says India's Apollo Tyres Ltd. also plans to retain Cooper's management operation in Ohio.

    Apollo announced Wednesday that it's buying Cooper and creating one of the world's largest tire makers.

    Armes says there is little overlap between the two companies and that will create more opportunities for growth in the U.S., China and Africa.

    Apollo's price of $35 per share represents a 43 percent premium over Cooper's Tuesday closing stock price.

    Armes says the deal is good for shareholders and workers because of Apollo's commitment to operations in Ohio, Mississippi and Arkansas.

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