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Oct
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2022
Police
Zyrian Atha-Arnett stood with his defense lawyer, Jon Paul Rion, during his sentencing Wednesday, July 21, in the 2019 stabbing death of Leonid “Lonya” Clark. Atha-Arnett pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter as part of a plea deal with the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison for that and other charges. (Photo by Carol Simmons)

Zyrian Atha-Arnett stood with his defense lawyer, Jon Paul Rion, during his sentencing on July 21, in the 2019 stabbing death of Leonid “Lonya” Clark. Atha-Arnett pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter as part of a plea deal with the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison for that and other charges. (Photo by Carol Simmons)

2021 in Review | Legal & Law Enforcement

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Atha-Arnett sentenced

In July, Yellow Springs native Zyrian Atha-Arnett, accused in the stabbing death of Leonid “Lonya” Clark, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter as part of a plea deal with the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office. Atha-Arnett also pleaded guilty to separate charges of abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence related to the Jan. 13, 2019, killing of his friend and former classmate.

Atha-Arnett was sentenced to 11 years on the involuntary manslaughter charge, 36 months for abuse of a corpse and 12 months for tampering with evidence, to be served consecutively for a total of 15 years and ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution. Atha-Arnett also pleaded guilty to 10 counts of child pornography charges. He was sentenced to 18 months on each count, to be served concurrently with the 15 years tied to Clark’s death.

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On Friday Nov, 12, Village Manager Josué Salmerón appointed Sgt. Paige Burge (left) as acting chief of Yellow Springs Police Department. Burge succeeds Brian Carlson (right) after his 12 years of service. (Photo by Matt Minde)


Carlson resigns, Burge acting chief

In August, Chief Brian Carlson resigned from the Village police department, saying the resignation was a personal decision he made alongside his wife. Carlson had been with the department since 2010, serving as chief for the last five years. He said that implementing a “social justice plan” for policing, adding a social worker to the department and starting more bike and foot patrols were among his biggest accomplishments during his tenure as chief.

Carlson’s last day as chief was Nov. 12; that day, Village Manager Josué Salmerón appointed recently promoted Sgt. Paige Burge as acting chief until a new full-time chief is found. The appointment allowed more time for the police chief search committee to find a chief who is in line with the village’s values, according to Salmerón. Burge has been with YSPD since 2019, when she joined as a foot patrol officer. She was promoted to sergeant in August after the departure of Naomi Watson. Hailing from Fairborn, Burge will be YSPD’s first female and LGBTQ+ chief.

At the July 29 Greene County Commissioner’s hearing on building a new jail, Kathryn LeVesconte, a clinical psychologist from Yellow Springs, asserted that jails are not the solution to addiction and mental health crises facing our county. She wants to see rehabilitation services as a part of the plans for the proposed jail and tax increase. Greene County Prosecutor David Hayes, left, spoke in favor of the new facility. (Photo by Jessica Thomas)


Jail levy voted down again

In November, Greene County voters rejected Issue 1, a proposal from the Greene County Board of Commissioners to increase the county sales tax by .25% to build a new jail, with 13,334 voting against the measure and 10,807 approving it. The result is in part a victory for members of the Greene County Coalition for Compassionate Justice, who campaigned against the proposal. A similar levy was also voted down in 2020.

Sheriff Gene Fischer dies

Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer died unexpectedly on Nov. 16. Fischer had been attending an Ohio sheriff’s convention in Sandusky where he suffered a “medical emergency.” Fischer, 65, was first appointed sheriff in 2003 and returned to office by county voters in subsequent elections. Prior to his tenure as sheriff, Fischer served 20 years as a Xenia police officer.

CRB talks continue

In December, Council voted to approve the allocation of $15,000 for the establishment of a village citizen review board, or CRB, which would address police misconduct. The funds will cover the cost of establishing the CRB in 2022. Details such as the size, scope, policies and procedures of the proposed CRB are still being discussed

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