Murder cases set for 2014

Huron, Ottawa and Sandusky County courts will be busy
Jessica Cuffman
Jan 16, 2014
Heading into 2014, homicide cases in Huron, Ottawa and Sandusky counties are set for court action, starting with a bizarre allegation against a Fremont man who allegedly overdosed his wife on a methadone prescription.

The trial for Jason Risenburg, 38, is set in Sandusky County Common Pleas Court for a five-day jury trial starting at the end of the month.

Risenburg faces charges of murder, involuntary manslaughter and corrupting another with drugs for the death of his 31-year-old wife, Beth Risenburg, at their Franklin Avenue home in Fremont on April 2, 2012, according to court records.

Months after her death, Fremont police detectives received toxicology reports from a Lucas County coroner showing she died of a methadone overdose, police said.

At the time of his wife’s death, Jason Risenburg had a prescription for methadone, a narcotic prescribed to people trying to wean themselves off of heroin or other strong opiates.

Risenburg has been incarcerated at the Sandusky County jail on $1 million bond since February 2013, after being arrested in North Carolina following the filing of the murder indictment in Fremont.

Also pending in Sandusky County courts is a vehicular homicide case against Andrew Gans, 24, of Kent, who faces felony charges after allegedly causing the deaths of an elderly Toledo couple on Thanksgiving in a crash on the Ohio Turnpike near Ohio 53.

Gans’ Infiniti M56 reached speeds of more than 125 mph during a high-speed drive from the Cleveland area, until the sports car slammed into the rear of a minivan belonging to Wilbur and Margaret McCoy, both 77.

Gans pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in December to two vehicular homicide charges. His next hearing date is Feb. 14, pending evaluations at the Court Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Toledo to determine his competency to stand trial and his mental condition at the time of the crash, according to court records.

Ottawa County

 Randall Ross, 48, of Fremont, continues to face prosecution for the March 2013 shooting of his estranged wife, Amy Ross, 43, of Oak Harbor.

Amy Ross had recently left the Fremont home she’d shared with her husband and moved into her sister’s Carroll Township home near Oak Harbor.

Randall Ross, however, allegedly hunted her down there, forced his way into the home and chased her upstairs, where he shot her once in the chest before turning the gun on himself in a failed suicide attempt in which he shot himself twice in the head.

His case is set for trial in Ottawa County Common Pleas Court in April.

In the meantime, defense attorneys have hired a private investigator to work on the case and an expert to complete a psychological analysis in Ross’ defense, according to court records. A wrongful death lawsuit the victim’s family has filed against Randall Ross, seeking damages, is also pending.

In other Ottawa County cases:

• A Port Clinton mother and her boyfriend continue to face felony charges for allegedly allowing her 7-week-old infant to suffer injuries leading to his death in March 2012.

Kayla Henderson, 25, and Beau Hutchinson, 26, were indicted in September on charges of permitting child abuse and child endangering. The infant, Kalib Henderson, suffered a blow to the head that fractured his skull and led to his death a few days later.

Henderson and Hutchinson, who remain free on $350,000 bonds, are scheduled for trial in April, according to court records.

• Two lingering defendants accused as co-conspirators in a 2011 Labor Day homicide on South Bass Island have hearings remaining in Ottawa County Common Pleas Court.

Zach Brody, 29, formerly of Bowling Green, is serving 16 years in prison for fatally beating Phil Masterson, 25, of Westlake, when the two were at a Put-in-Bay resort. The two were strangers before they met that night. After Brody beat Masterson unconscious, he dragged his body into the woods and left him there to die.

Six months after Brody was sentenced on an involuntary manslaughter charge, Ottawa County prosecutors filed charges against Sarah Partlo, 27, of Rocky River, and Cameron Parris, 28, of Lakewood, for their alleged roles in Masterson’s death.

Partlo is scheduled to be sentenced today, after pleading guilty in November to two counts of obstructing justice. Attorneys for the final defendant, Parris, continue to fight his charges of tampering with evidence, obstructing justice, failure to report a death and falsification. Parris’ case was last in court in September 2013 for an evidentiary hearing. No other dates have been set.

Huron County

 A Massillon man accused of causing a September 2013 crash that killed a Bellevue woman is set to face trial later this month, according to court records. Morgan Jevec, 24, remains in the Huron County jail on $100,000 bond. Jevec was driving a Mercury Grand Marquis at about 80 mph when the vehicle slammed into a Blazer driven by Tracey Albright, 36, of Bellevue, whose vehicle was stopped at a light on U.S. 20 and North Sandusky Street. Jevec faces aggravated vehicular homicide charges.