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This Hour: Latest Ohio news, sports, business and entertainment

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DEATH PENALTY-OHIO

Condemned Ohio man seeks mercy, points to 2nd man

CLEVELAND (AP) - Defense attorneys say a man sentenced to death for a Cleveland produce vendor's 1983 slaying should be granted clemency in part because a second defendant repeatedly admitted being the shooter.

A clemency application filed Thursday for 54-year-old Arthur Tyler also alleges that a jury was coerced into issuing a death sentence verdict and that a prosecutor and some of Tyler's defense attorneys had a conflict of interest.

A spokesman for the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office said it had no comment Thursday but plans to file a statement next week with the state parole board. The board makes a recommendation to the governor, who has the final say.

Tyler's execution is scheduled May 28.

He's arguing in a lawsuit that health problems put him at risk of suffering during lethal injection.

HEROIN DEATHS-OHIO

Ohio sees record high heroin overdose deaths

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The state says a record number of Ohioans died from heroin-related overdoses in 2012 as it released the newest available figures for a problem that's been called an epidemic and public health crisis.

The Department of Health says 680 people died of heroin overdoses in 2012, up from 426 deaths in 2011, a 37 percent increase.

The heroin increase also drove the overall number of fatal drug overdoses to a new record of 1,272 deaths in 2012, up from 1,154 the previous year.

The state said Friday the number of fatal prescription painkiller overdoses decreased for the first time since 2003, a drop attributed to a statewide crack down on pill mills.

Heroin addiction has been increasing as addicts turn to the cheaper and more readily available drug.

FISHING BOAT SEARCH

Woman, teenager found dead in Lake Erie; 2 missing

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - The Coast Guard says it has suspended its search for the remaining two boaters missing after a fishing trip on Lake Erie.

The bodies of two of four missing people were recovered Thursday, a day after the group left for an afternoon of fishing and sent pictures to relatives.

Searchers found a partially submerged boat on a reef near the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant and later spotted the bodies of a teenage girl and a woman. Both of the victims were wearing life jackets.

The Coast Guard said Thursday night it has suspended the search pending any new developments.

OHIO STATE-MUMPS

Mumps cases at central Ohio community college

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Columbus health officials say they've confirmed two cases of mumps at a local community college as an outbreak of the illness continues.

Columbus Public Health spokesman Jose Rodriguez says two Columbus State Community College students have been included in the official case count.

Rodriguez said Thursday the agency is also looking into reports of two more cases of mumps at the school near downtown.

Officials have confirmed 234 cases of the contagious viral illness in the area this year. They say 149 of those are linked to Ohio State University.

Mabel Freeman, Columbus State's interim vice president for student affairs, tells the Columbus Dispatch the school has encouraged good hygiene and vaccination since the outbreak.

SYNTHETIC DRUGS-CRACKDOWN

Ohio rule bans certain synthetic drug chemicals

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The state says a new rule has gone into effect in Ohio that permanently bans two new chemicals abused as illegal synthetic drugs.

The rule announced by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and State Pharmacy Board Director Kyle Parker attempts to outlaw the two chemicals and any variations of them.

The rule taking effect Thursday classifies the chemical compounds as controlled substances illegal under Ohio law.

Authorities say the compounds appeared after a 2012 law went into effect banning all synthetic drugs that existed at the time.

The chemicals are often sprayed on plant material to mimic the effect of marijuana. The drugs can have effects similar to, but longer-lasting, than amphetamines.

DeWine has asked for the authority to ban compounds that are a threat without the need for legislation.

GRANDMOTHER BEATEN

Ohio man gets prison time for grandmother's death

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A central Ohio man who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of his 90-year-old grandmother has been sentenced to 17 years in prison.

John Spindler of Columbus was sentenced Thursday.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the 41-year-old Spindler apologized for attacking his mother and hurting his grandmother when she tried to intervene in the dispute. He says he would take back his actions if he could.

Investigators say Spindler beat his 60-year-old mother and threw his grandmother to the floor during a June altercation at the family's home. The older woman died days later.

Spindler pleaded guilty last month to charges of involuntary manslaughter and felonious assault.

The newspaper says he'll be eligible for release after he serves half of his sentence.

PIONEERING PILOT-OHIO

Ohio statue honors woman's historic 1964 flight

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - An Ohio woman's history-making flight has been memorialized with a newly unveiled statue in Columbus.

The Columbus Regional Airport Authority and The Columbus Foundation are commemorating the 50th anniversary of Geraldine "Jerrie" Mock's solo flight around the world. She was the first female pilot to accomplish that feat.

A bronze, life-sized statue depicting Mock holding a globe went on display Thursday at Port Columbus, the airport where she landed her single-engine Cessna 180 on April 17, 1964.

Mayor Michael Coleman told some 230 people gathered for the ceremony that her "Spirit of Columbus" was a "great name" for her plane. The 88-year-old Mock was unable to attend.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that the statue in the airport ticket lobby will eventually become part of a "Legacy of Leadership" exhibit.

YMCA-SHOOTING

Police investigate shooting in YMCA parking lot

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Columbus police are investigating a fatal shooting in the parking lot of a YMCA.

Investigators say the people involved in the attack that left a 36-year-old man dead weren't affiliated with the facility on the city's north side.

WBNS-TV reports the Y was immediately locked down after Wednesday's shooting as a precaution.

Police are still looking for three or four people they say were involved in the attack on the victim, shot in the driver's seat of a car.

OHIO RIVER BODY

Woman's body found in Ohio River near E. Liverpool

CHESTER, W.Va. (AP) - Authorities in West Virginia are investigating a woman's body that was found in the Ohio River near East Liverpool, Ohio.

Hancock County Sheriff Ralph Fletcher tells media outlets that workers at the East Liverpool dry docks discovered the body on Wednesday afternoon near the Jennings Randolph Bridge.

The body has been sent to the medical examiner.

Fletcher says his department is handling the investigation because most of the river is in West Virginia.

CLEVELAND-PARK RESTORATION

Cleveland Metroparks to restore former golf course

CLEVELAND (AP) - Commissioners at Cleveland Metroparks are getting details on an ecological restoration plan for a former golf course.

The Conservation Fund, a Virginia-based private nonprofit conservation group, paid more than $14 million for the Acacia Reservation and then deeded it over to the Metroparks.

The Plain Dealer reports Thursday the arrangement includes a requirement that the park will never be used for golf and will return to nature instead.

The plan is being created by Metroparks staff and Biohabitats Inc., a company that specializes in conservation planning and ecological restoration.

COLUMBUS-HOMELESS FAMILIES

Space added as Columbus homeless families increase

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Central Ohio's homeless agency is expanding space for displaced families as the number of parents and children with no place to live increases.

The YWCA Family Center opened in 2005 with a capacity for 50 people and is now trying to serve 140 families.

The Columbus Dispatch reports Thursday that the Community Shelter Board, the area's local homeless agency, modified plans for a new adult shelter to include a second area for homeless families.

The board has long preferred getting families in permanent housing, even paying relatives to take family members in, rather than build new shelters.

But shelter board Executive Director Michelle Heritage says the system still has to get people off the streets. She says significant numbers of beds haven't been added since 2001.

TOLEDO-JAIL PROPOSAL

Study concludes Toledo jail not worth saving

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - A preliminary study has concluded that the perpetually overcrowded Lucas County Jail in downtown Toledo is not worth saving and a new facility is needed.

The study by California-based DLR Group says the jail often needs repairs which make remodeling and expanding it impractical.

Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp told The Blade for a story Thursday the jail is "inhumane."

The jail, built in 1977, reaches capacity at 342 inmates but on average holds more than 425 prisoners.

Tharp says it's common to see inmates on cots outside their cells.

The study says the current need is for 526 beds but says Lucas County commissioners should consider funding and space for up to 624 beds with the ability to expand if necessary.

UNEMPLOYMENT-OHIO

Ohio to unveil latest monthly report on jobs data

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - State officials are ready to release Ohio's latest monthly employment data.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services was scheduled to release the March figures on Friday.

Last month's announcement brought good news. For February, the state's unemployment rate dropped to 6.5 percent, the lowest rate in nearly six years. That was down from 6.9 percent in January.

The number of workers unemployed in Ohio in February was 377,000, down 18,000 from 395,000 in January.

NEW ROLLER COASTER

New roller coaster debuts at Kings Island in Ohio

MASON, Ohio (AP) - Kings Island theme park in southwest Ohio is unveiling a new inverted roller coaster more than 4,000 feet long with speeds up to 68 miles per hour.

The "Banshee" is making its debut Friday at the park north of Cincinnati.

Kings Island says the steel roller coaster named for a wailing mythological messenger from the underworld includes a 167-foot lift hill and a 150-foot curved first drop. Riders also will experience a zero-gravity roll.

Three trains containing eight cars each will be able to carry 1,650 riders per hour.

Kings Island is owned and operated by Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. The Sandusky-based company owns and runs 10 other amusement parks, three outdoor water parks, an indoor water park, and five hotels.

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