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Final report: Cleveland kidnapper intended to commit suicide
Other morning headlines: Ohio Attorney General taking over in judge poisoning case; Bill would reduce number of teacher evaluations; Democrats pick new leaders in Ohio Senate
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ
and LAUREN SCHMOLL


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
  • Final report: Cleveland kidnapper intended to commit suicide
  • Ohio Attorney General taking over in judge poisoning case
  • Bill would reduce number of teacher evaluations
  • Democrats pick new leaders in Ohio Senate
  • New Medicaid oversight committee created
  • Murder suspect could face death penalty with new charges
  • Rep. Tim Ryan recruiting for Clinton campaign
  • Funeral directors could face 20 years in prison
  • Woman who posed as veterinarian released from prison
  • Akron will stop responding to security alarms without need verification
  • Confirmation hearing expected for former Youngstown mayor
  • Student loan debt a concern in Ohio
  •  

    Final report: Cleveland kidnapper intended to commit suicide
    Investigators confirm Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro committed suicide by hanging back in September, just weeks into his life prison sentence.

    The Ohio State Highway Patrol completed the final report into Castro’s death.

    The report rejects a theory that the 53-year-old Castro might have died accidentally while seeking a thrill through a sex act.


    Ohio Attorney General taking over in judge poisoning case
    The Ohio Attorney General's Office will appoint an outside prosecutor in the case of a county judge whose wife allegedly tried to poison him with antifreeze. The Ohio Supreme Court will pick a judge to preside over the case.

    Carla Hague is the 71-year-old wife of Ashtabula County Common Pleas Juvenile-Probate Judge Charles Hague.

    Investigators say she tried to poison him with antifreeze in September.

    A grand jury is now looking at the case to decide if she should be charged with attempted murder.


    Bill would reduce number of teacher evaluations
    Public school teachers who have a good rating may not have to undergo as many state-mandated evaluations. A bill lowering the required number of evaluations has unanimously cleared the Ohio Senate.

    Educators had expressed concern that Ohio's new evaluation rules would use too many resources.

    The new bill would require evaluations every three years for teachers with the top two ratings. It also makes adjustments to intervening evaluation measures.


    Democrats pick new leaders in Ohio Senate
    Two top Democrats in the Ohio Senate have been replaced as they prepare their bids to run for statewide office.

    State Senator Joe Schiavoni of Boardman will become the next minority leader in the Senate following a vote by his fellow Democrats Wednesday afternoon. He will replace Senator Eric Kearney of Cincinnati who is running for lieutenant governor.

    Senator Edna Brown of Toledo is moving up to minority whip, a job held by Senator Nina Turner of Cleveland. Turner is vying for secretary of state.

    Joining the leadership team are Senator Charleta of Columbus as assistant minority leader, and Senator Lou Gentile of Steubenville as assistant minority whip.

    New Medicaid oversight committee created
    A new oversight committee in Ohio will now take steps to limit the cost growth of the federal-state health program for the poor and disabled.

    The Ohio Legislature passed a bill yesterday creating the committee. It also has the governor’s support.

    The bill is intended to curb future cost increases in Medicaid. The growth targets in the proposal are tied to the lesser of the three-year average medical inflation rate for the Midwest or the projected inflation rate determined by the oversight panel. Lawmakers on the panel would work with an actuary to analyze Medicaid's costs.

    The joint legislative panel also could investigate the state agencies that administer Medicaid.

    Oil, gas industry supports tax changes
    Ohio's oil and gas industry says it supports newly introduced tax changes that include a rate hike on horizontally drilled shale wells in a compromise struck with the Ohio House.

    An earlier proposal by Governor John Kasich would have raised severance taxes on drillers and used the proceeds for income tax cuts for taxpayers.

    An alternative proposal from House Speaker William Batchelder was introduced Wednesday, with the support of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association.

    Batchelder said the bill encourages gas exploration, environmental protection and regulatory reform. It proposes raising the severance tax rate on horizontally drilled wells by 1 percent, then 2 percent, while rolling back similar taxes on traditional wells.


    Murder suspect could face death penalty with new charges

    A new indictment against a Cleveland man accused in the 1984 killing of a 14-year-old girl could result in the death penalty if convicted.

    A Cuyahoga County grand jury returned the new aggravated murder, rape and kidnapping indictment against 58-year-old Hernandez Warren on Wednesday.

    Investigators say DNA evidence linked Warren to the killing of Gloria Pointer. She went missing while walking to school in Cleveland.

    Authorities say Warren lived in the same neighborhood as Pointer.


    Rep. Tim Ryan recruiting for Clinton campaign
    Democratic Representative Tim Ryan, of Niles, is throwing his support behind a 2016 presidential bid for Hillary Clinton.

    Ryan will be a keynote speaker at fundraisers hosted by the “Ready for Hillary” Super PAC this month.

    The Super PAC has already raised more than $1 million. Ryan says he was the first member of Congress to publicly support the Super PAC, and it claims it has more than one million supporters if Clinton decides to run. Other notable supporters include George Soros, Mack McLarty and Ellen Tauscher.


    Funeral directors could face 20 years in prison
    The owners of two funeral homes in Trumbull County are accused of defrauding the elderly through faulty funeral contracts.

    Robert McDermott and brothers Patrick and Robert McClurkin face up to 20 years in prison each, if convicted on charges of racketeering, grand theft and theft from an elderly person of more than $150 thousand.

    The three men allegedly accepted pre-payments for future funeral services and then spent the money, instead of saving it for the customers’ needs, the Plain Dealer reports.

    Ohio law states that any pre-payment funds must be placed in annuities, insurance policies or trusts. The money cannot be used by the funeral home until the person dies.

    The McClurkins are accused of defrauding customers out of $400 thousand. McDermott is accused of $150 thousand in fraud. All three have lost their funeral licenses.


    Woman who posed as veterinarian released from prison
    Attorneys for a woman who was convicted of posing as a veterinarian say their client learned her lesson while in prison.

    A judge yesterday granted Brandi Tomko early release, after serving half of her 18-month sentence.

    Tomko was convicted of two felonies and six misdemeanors back in February, after pretending to be a veterinarian at the former C&D Animal Hospital in Akron back in 2011.

    Tomko had been accused of causing the death of a service dog, but that charge was dismissed.

    Tomko will be on probation for two years, and must undergo a substance-abuse assessment. She is not allowed to contact the victims of the case.


    Akron will stop responding to security alarms without need verification
    False alarms can cost police and fire departments thousands of dollars, which is just one of the reasons Akron’s police department is adopting a new policy that delays response until a need is verified.

    The Beacon Journal reports that the program will be implemented in early 2014 because depleted police ranks, economic concerns and a nearly 99 percent false alarm rate.

    Thus far, there has been little opposition to the plan in Akron, but other cities like Dallas have repealed similar policies because of public outcry and safety concerns.


    Confirmation hearing expected for former Youngstown mayor
    A former mayor of Youngstown will have a confirmation hearing on his presidential appointment later this morning.

    Jay Williams was nominated as the U.S. Department of Commerce assistant secretary for economic development back in September.

    The Vindicator reports that Williams is expected to have a hearing before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on December 17. If the committee agrees on his appointment, the full Senate will then hold a vote on his confirmation.

    The confirmation is expected to go through without a problem.


    Student loan debt a concern in Ohio
    Ohio now ranks ninth in the amount of student-loan debt for new graduates.

    Students who borrowed money and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2012 had an average of $29 thousand dollars in student-loan debt. That’s up slightly from the year before, but less than the national average of $29,400.

    Ohio actually moved down from seventh in the nation in 2011 when it came to amount of student loan debt, but up when it comes to the percentage of students with debt.

    69 percent of graduates have at least some student-loan debt. That’s the sixth highest amount in the country.

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