Chris Keppler

Chris Keppler

Chris is the regular news anchor on WQMX's Wynn and Wilson in the Morning and WONE's Tim and Christi in the Morning programs. He first opened a microphone at WZIP-FM at The University of Akron in 1990 but got his first paid radio job delivering weekend news on WZKL-FM & WDPN-AM in Alliance. Chris then moved to WJER AM & FM in Dover where he reported on Tuscarawas County, including stories that made national headlines. Chris has been honored by his peers with first place awards from the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters including Best Reporter, Best Feature Story, and Best Broadcast Writing among others. In addition to his work as a broadcast journalist Chris has also worked in public relations and as an instructor at the University of Akron teaching Broadcast News Writing. Chris enjoys volunteer work, and has served on the boards of the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters, Public Relations Society of America (Akron Area Chapter), American Cancer Society Hope Gala Committee and currently serves on the Green Baseball/Softball Federation Board. Contact Chris through the newsroom 330-864-6397 or email at ckeppler@rcrg.net

Friday, 23 May 2014 12:29

Akron Teacher Placed On Leave

An Akron teacher is on administrative leave for allegedly shoving a sixth grade student at Innes CLC. 

District officials say the 62-year old career eduction teacher has been with the district since 1999. 

Administrators plan to conduct formal interviews with the student, the teacher and anyone else who may have seen something.  They will also review any surveillance video that could provide clues.  

Thursday, 22 May 2014 12:26

Prison For Child Rape

Press Release:

Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh announced that late yesterday Judge Tom Teodosio sentenced Jacob L. Singleton, 33, of Ott Drive in Clinton, and Cecilia D. Lower, 30, of 31st Street NW in Barberton, to life in prison.

Lower and Singleton pleaded guilty on May 2 to three counts of Rape, felonies of the first degree with Sexually Violent Predator specifications; Corrupting a Minor with Drugs, a felony of the second degree; Pandering, a felony of the second degree; and Endangering Children, a felony of the second degree. Lower also pleaded guilty to Illegal Use of a Minor in Nudity Oriented Material, a felony of the second degree;

Lower and Singleton conspired to drug and sexually abuse a four-year-old girl and abuse a seven-year-old boy. They exchanged several photos of the abuse through Facebook.

“What Cecilia Lower and Jacob Singleton did to these two children is truly sickening,” said Prosecutor Walsh. “Thanks to the hard work of Barberton Detective Matt Hudak and my prosecutors, these two will be out of the community for a very long time.”

Lower and Singleton will be eligible for parole after serving 25 years in prison. They were also classified as Tier III Sex Offenders, which requires they register their places of residence and employment with the Sheriff’s Office every 90 days if they are ever released from prison.

 

Information provided by the Summit County Prosecutor's Office

Monday, 19 May 2014 12:39

AUDIO New Principal Coming To Kenmore

Akron's Kenmore High School will be under new leadership next school year.  Principal Ginelle Rasnick resigned from the post just weeks after a massive brawl that resulted in more than two dozen arrests.  Superintendent David James says Rasnick will be a better fit somewhere else in the district.

"There were some challenges at Kenmore and I think everyone can really conclude that there should be a different kind of leader there," said James.

Rasnick only resigned as principal but James says she will likely be placed in another administrative position.  He says school officials are currently in the process of determining administrative posts throughout the district. 

Is Kenmore unique?  Yes, but not necessarily in a bad way, according to James.  He says every school building has its own culture and each set of variables brings challenges.  The trick is to find people who can understand those variables and mold them into an education-focused atmosphere.

"At Kenmore, with some of the issues of kids coming from different areas of Akron, there will be friction," said James.

James says most students at Kenmore are interested in their education and work toward graduating from high school.

 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 13:05

Akron Murderer Appeals Rejected

The 9th District Court of Appeals is supporting a trial court decision to deny an Akron murderer post-conviction relief.

Denny Ross, convicted in 2012 for the 1999 murder of Hannah Hill, thinks the jury was biased against him. Here's why: Ross's dad was checking out the Remember Hannah Hill website just after the guilty verdicts in his son's retrial and spotted a picture of a woman who appeared to be the jury foreperson listed as a "friend" of the site. Ross then asked for a hearing and for the court to order the website administrators to disclose when the person joined the site.

The trial court turned down him down and did not allow a hearing.  The appellate judges say a hearing is not required for post-conviction relief requests.  The opinion also stated that Ross offered nothing outside of an affidavit by his father, such as a screen shot or a printed version of the web pages they questioned.  

The appeals court says the lower court did nothing wrong. Ross is serving 19 years to life. 

13th District Congressman Tim Ryan says he's anxious to work with all three new university presidents in his district. 

"You're constantly reinventing yourself as a university and you have these strategies that you've got to push but they're based on collaborations and I think all three of them being big thinkers are going to provide a lot of collaboration."

Dr. Scott Scarborough becomes the new president at The University of Akron in July. Jim Tressel leaves his position as the executive vice president of student affairs at Akron to take the presidency at Youngstown State University.  Kent State University recently hired Dr. Beverly Warren to replace Dr. Lester Lefton.  Ryan says building relationships with Scarborough, Tressel and Warren is important for all three entities and for the regional economy.

"I want to see what they're doing and then we'll partner and leverage the federal resources that we can bring back from the appropriations committee to try to make these projects to," said Ryan.

Ryan publicly lobbied for a connection between YSU and Tressel, a coach that Ryan played under when he was in college. 

"My concern was making sure he was in northeast Ohio," said Ryan. "My concern was that maybe Akron would not offer him the job and that Youngstown was going pass altogether as they were looking for a new president and we just wanted to make sure that we got him on their radar screen."

 

Friday, 09 May 2014 12:50

Murderer's Appeal Denied

The 9th District Court of Appeals is striking down claims from a convicted murderer from Rittman.

Chad Cobb is in prison for beating and strangling his former girlfriend, Ashley Biggs, 25. Cobb, who has three other children, also had custody of the child he shared with Biggs and they were having some disputes. Biggs was lured to a location in New Franklin through her pizza delivery job. Her body was found in Rittman, which prompted one of Cobb's appeals. He says it was not a Summit County matter because it was never proven that Biggs was killed in Summit County. He also claimed ineffective counsel -- the appellate judges disagreed across the board.

Friday, 09 May 2014 12:43

Hit-Skip Driver Arrested

Summit County sheriff's deputies say they have caught the person believed to have run down a deputy and a college student in a parking lot near The University of Akron. 

Artemus Blanding, 23, of Bedford Heights is charged with attempted murder, aggravated vehicular assault and felonious assault.  Deputies say Blanding struck both people with his vehicle at the McDonald's on East Exchange Street about a month ago, then took off.  Neither victim suffered life threatening injuries.

Sheriff Steve Barry says investigators had some surveillance video to help them get started but he credits Sgt. Chris Lappin and deputies Ryan Knight and Bron Thomas for working hundreds of hours, sometimes on days off, to solve the case.

Thursday, 08 May 2014 12:41

AUDIO Ohio Measles

The Summit County Health Department is reminding people to make sure their immunizations are up to date, now that there's an oubreak of measles in Ohio. 

There are 42 confirmed cases.  Most of them are in Knox County.  The health department's Dr. Margo Erme says even though measles was eliminated 14 years ago, the highly infectious disease has re-emerged.

"There were a group of people who went to the Philippines, where they are having a very large measles outbreak," said Erme.  "They were not vaccinated and while they were there one of them was exposed."

Erme says a lot of people who have vaccinations should be protected, but others may need a booster because they were under-vaccinated in the 1960's. 

 
She says the case of measles connected to a Hudson student remains unconfirmed by the Ohio Department of Health.  Erme says state health officials prioritize those cases so information can be pushed out toward the appropriate communities to ward off bigger problems.

The 9th District Court of Appeals is helping out an Akron man who got in trouble for allegedly selling heroin at Grace Park in 2012. 

James Cunningham was arrested after police got an anonymous tip about a black man wearing jeans and a neon green shirt selling drugs.  Police spotted Cunningham - a black man wearing jeans and a neon green shirt - in the park.  According to the opinion, one officer approached Cunningham and the other parked behind Cunningham as he started to back away.  Cunningham did not agree to a pat down, and he was arrested for obstruction of justice, which allowed a search.  That search yielded some heroin inside a gum wrapper.  

However, the appeals court agreed with Cunningham that the description was not reason enough for police to stop and subsequently search him in the park. Here's one small part of the opinion:

"Mr. Cunningham argues that the trial court should have granted his motion to suppress because Officers Hughes and Woolley did not have sufficient reasonable, articulable suspicion to conduct a stop. We agree."

The case is being sent back to Summit County Common Pleas Court.

To top it off, Cunningham's sentence of probation and a driver's license suspension was stayed because of the appeal but that message didn't make it to the probation department, so Cunningham got picked up and thrown in jail for violating a probation order that wasn't in effect.  It took a judge to get it straightened out. 

Law enforcement and lawyers are reacting to the now-public disclosure of more than 1,700 files on a former Akron cop's computer - some of which could have been considered evidence in criminal cases.  The city tried to fire Don Schismenos and wound up negotiating a resignation but the furor over the files lingers three years after they were discovered.

Here are perspectives from people who represent some of the stakeholders: 

Attorney Eddie Sipplen - Sipplen represents at least a couple of clients who were arrested by Schismenos, leaving him to question whether they got a fair shake by the justice system.  If any  files were evidentiary, they should have been turned over to prosecutors, who would then have made them available to defense teams.

"As a defense attorney, my job is dependent on the quality of the information I receive so I can make sure a fair process," said Sipplen.  "It's not to get the guilty off, but to make sure it's a fair process." 

Sipplen understands that Schismenos was the only one who knew about the files, so he doesn't blame the police department or anyone else involved for not knowing about them but he does want to know why, after three years, he's the only attorney contacted about the information.

"Who knew? How long did they know?  And what have they done?," asks Sipplen.    
 

 Akron Police Chief James Nice:  Nice says he immediately sent Shismenos home and got internal affairs involved but quickly realized that there was potential for a conflict of interest. At that point, the Ohio Attorney General's Office was contacted.

"And at the exact same time, we brought in the FBI who shared the egregious tapes with the United States Attorney's Office because, frankly, I was concerend, is there a problem with civil rights?" said Nice.

Nice says there was no wrongdoing in the police department, other than that of Shismenos. 
 

 Akron FOP President Paul Hlynsky: Some of the video footage make Schismenos look somewhere between nasty and violent, but his union president, Paul Hlynsky, that despite some obvious mistakes by Shismenos, the videos and the way Shismenos is portrayed need some context.

"He did not commit some of the criminal behavior he's being accused of but I certainly don't condone any bad behavior," said Hlynsky.

As for any of the files that may have been considered evidence, Hlynsky says it probably won't make a difference.

"I don't believe that there's going to be the massive amounts of appeals that some people speculate that there's going to be because there was wrongdoing on the part of some of these people," said Hlynsky. 
 

 Assistant Summit County Prosecutor Brad Gessner:  Gessner says his office immediately found about 25 pending cases that were associated with Schismenos, when they uncovered about 400 resolved cases, then sat down with police, BCI and the FBI, calling further investigation.

"Because if there's anything in the file that is helpful to someone accused of a crime, we turn that over," said Gessner.  "That's our obligaton and we take that very seriously."

Gessner says the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is the agency in charge of determining future action in the case.
 

The Summit County Prosecutor's Office issued a statement late Tuesday afternoon:

Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh today released the following statement regarding the Schismenos investigation.

"The Akron Police Department first notified our office of a problem involving Officer Donald Schismenos in late June 2011. We worked very closely with APD's Internal Affairs and the Ohio Attorney General's Office and met with the FBI to address any issues stemming from the discovery of Schismenos' secret recordings.

"In August 2011, APD Chief Nice requested an investigation by BCI due to a potential conflict of interest. Prosecutors and law enforcement identified several issues for review, including whether Schismenos had engaged in any criminal conduct and whether there were any recordings of arrests related to cases handled by the Summit County Prosecutor's Office. Additionally, the FBI was asked to investigate whether the recordings demonstrated any federal violations by Schismenos.

"In September 2011, our office identified 25 pending and 345 closed cases between 1999 and 2011 involving Schismenos. We sent that list to the Attorney General's Office to see if any of Schismenos' recordings were connected to those cases. Videos connected to a few pending cases were discovered, and we turned over those videos to the defense counsel as we received them.

"My office conducted a thorough review of all of our cases two years ago, and we continue to examine any cases that may be linked to any video to ensure that no defendant's rights were violated. Should a new case be discovered in which Schismenos did not turn over evidence, we will review it."