Legislation inspired after man accused of attempted murder escaped from Heath nursing facility

Following an incident in which a man accused of attempted murder roamed a Licking County community for hours after escaping from a nearby nursing facility, State Representative Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) has introduced House Bill 576, legislation that will require law enforcement officials to be notified whenever an individual accused of a violent offense is released on bail and takes up residence outside the jurisdiction where the crime occurred. Senator Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) has introduced companion legislation in the Ohio Senate.

The accused offender, originally from Scioto County, was injured during a standoff with law enforcement. He was sent to a nursing facility located in Heath, Ohio to receive medical care for his injuries and as a condition of his being released on bond. Heath law enforcement officials were not told by Scioto County officials that a potentially dangerous accused offender was being housed in the nursing facility when he escaped. Once word reached the public, panic gripped the Heath area, and nearby schools were forced to cancel classes and initiate lockdown procedures.

“Senator Schaffer and I crafted this legislation in response to the unfortunate situation that occurred in Heath, Ohio,” said Representative Hottinger. “This incident created awareness of a potential risk to our communities, and we hope that this risk will decrease and ultimately be eliminated as a result of this legislation.”

“Had our local law enforcement officials been aware of this man’s criminal accusation, they could have taken measures to ensure security over the accused offender and be better prepared to protect the community,” Senator Schaffer said. “This legislation will encourage greater communication between law enforcement agencies in order to prevent another incident like this from occurring in Ohio.”

Under the legislation, a county clerk of courts would be required to provide written notice to a county sheriff if a person accused of a violent offense is released on bail and is directed to live somewhere other than the community where the crime took place. Similar notices would also be submitted by the Adult Parole Authority whenever an individual is released on parole.

House Bill 576 and Senate Bill 358 will now be assigned to committees in the House and Senate for consideration.


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