GREENE COUNTY — Greene County had a variety of memorable news in 2017 from the announcement of Cedarville’s Mike DeWine running for governor to a double homicide in Yellow Springs. The following were just some other important news in Greene County for the year:
5. County man sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Jevon Russell, 27, was found guilty of burglarizing a Fairborn home with a deadly weapon during a trial in August. He was charged with the crime after he and another male forced their way into an apartment in April. Russell was accused of carrying two guns into the residence and stealing two hunting knives and a wallet off the coffee table.
The first-degree felony and firearms specification earned Russell 16 mandatory years in prison. During a later bench trial, the court found Russell guilty of having weapons while under disability and for being on post-release control at the time of the offense, which added four more years to his sentence.
4. Area man gets 20 years for robbery, kidnapping and abduction.
A jury found Bryan Goney, 39, guilty of robbery, kidnapping and abduction after a three-day trial in April. Goney was arrested in November 2016 after a masked man robbed a woman at gunpoint at the Circle K on East Dayton-Yellow Springs Road in Fairborn. He was found outside a white U-Haul van at the Circle K on Progress Drive in Xenia.
While waiting for sentencing in the county jail in July, Goney broke the glass of his isolation cell window and fell three stories onto the sidewalk, sustaining multiple fractures. At sentencing, Judge Michael Buckwalter determined the man to be a repeat violent offender.
3. Beavercreek schools pass levy.
Voters in Beavercreek approved a 6 mill, $10.4 million substitute emergency levy for Beavercreek City Schools 55.11 percent to 44.89 percent Nov. 7.
Normal operations will continue at the schools, thanks to the levy. Dollars generated from the levy, which amounts to approximately 13 percent of the district’s operating revenue, will fund necessary day-to-day expenses for the schools such as utilities, bus fuel, classroom supplies, technology and personnel. The renewal tax levy will not increase taxes for existing residents and businesses. Without any additions, taxpayers will continue to pay an estimated $210 per year for each $100,000 of appraised property value.
The levy substitutes the emergency levy that voters originally passed in November 2013, set to expire in December 2018.
2. DeWine announces run for governor.
In front of nearly 2,000 at his annual ice cream social this year, Cedarville resident and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that he is making a run for Ohio’s governor seat. Most recently, he announced that Secretary of State Jon Husted would serve as his running mate.
“I run for governor because there are challenges,” he told the Gazette. “There are problems that we have to face. Sometimes as attorney general, I felt like I was almost picking up the pieces after the crash. I think a lot of our problems we really need to get ahead of.”
DeWine, who was born in Springfield and grew up in Yellow Springs, was elected Greene County prosecutor in 1976. In 1980 he was elected to the Ohio Senate. Two years later he was elected to the US House of Representatives, a seat he held until 1991 when he was sworn in as lieutenant governor under George Voinovich. He was elected to the US Senate in 1994 and served until 2006, when he was defeated by Democrat Sherrod Brown. DeWine was elected attorney general in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014.
1. Double homicide in Yellow Springs.
William “Skip” Brown, 44, and Sherri Mendenhall, 63, both of Yellow Springs, were found dead at their duplex-style home Jan. 15. Authorities were called to the property on the 4400 block of East Enon Road just outside of the village after a jogger found Mendenhall’s body in the driveway. Authorities later found Brown’s body inside the home.
Brothers Dustin M. Merrick, 26, of Xenia and Bret S. Merrick, 25, of Centerville were arraigned Jan. 25 for allegedly committing the crime. They are currently being held in the Greene County Jail. A $5 million bond has been set for each of the brothers.
Dustin Merrick pleaded not guilty April 7 to nine charges — two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of murder, two counts of aggravated burglary, felonious assault, tampering with evidence and obstructing justice. Bret Merrick was also indicted and pleaded not guilty to eight charges.
Most recently, Greene County Common Pleas Judge Michael Buckwalter heard arguments in his courtroom concerning whether evidence should be suppressed. A gun was confiscated by authorities without a search warrant during questioning at Dustin Merrick’s home five days after the crime occurred. The indictments carry firearm and capital specifications, which means the defendants could face the death penalty if convicted.
Dustin Merrick is scheduled for a jury trial Jan. 16, 2018. Bret Merrick’s trial is scheduled for March 19, 2018.
Contact these reporters at 937-372-4444.