2021 in review | Legal and Law Enforcement • News from Yellow Springs


Zyrian Atha-Arnett stood alongside his defense lawyer Jon Paul Rion during his July 21 conviction in the stabbing death of Leonid “Lonya” Clark in 2019. Atha-Arnett a pleaded guilty to manslaughter under a plea deal with the Greene County District Attorney’s Office and was sentenced to 15 years in prison on this and other counts. (Photo by Carol Simmons)

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Atha-Arnett doomed

In July, Zyrian Atha-Arnett, originally from Yellow Springs, accused of the stabbing death of Leonid “Lonya” Clark, pleaded guilty to manslaughter under a plea deal with the County Attorney’s Office. Greene. Atha-Arnett also pleaded guilty to separate charges of corpse abuse and tampering with evidence related to the January 13, 2019 murder of his friend and former classmate.

Atha-Arnett was sentenced to 11 years for manslaughter, 36 months for body abuse 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. He was sentenced to 18 months on each count, to be served concurrently with the 15 years associated with Clark’s death.

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On Friday, November 12, village director Josué Salmerón appointed Sgt. Paige Burge (left) as Acting Chief of the Yellow Springs Police Department. Burge succeeds Brian Carlson (right) after 12 years of service. (Photo by Matt Minde)

Carlson resigns, Interim Chief Burge

In August, Chief Brian Carlson resigned from the village police service, saying the resignation was a personal decision he made alongside his wife. Carlson had worked for the department since 2010, as a leader for the past five years. He said implementing a “social justice plan” for the police services, adding a social worker to the department and launching more bicycle and foot patrols were among his biggest. accomplishments during his tenure as Chief.

Carlson’s last day as leader was November 12; on that day, the village manager Joshua Salmerón appointed the recently promoted Sgt. Paige Burge as interim chef until a new full time chef is found. The appointment gave the police chief‘s search committee more time to find a chief 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 Naomi Watson left. A native of Fairborn, Burge will be the first female leader of the YSPD and LGBTQ +.

At the Greene County Commissioner’s July 29 hearing on the construction of a new prison, Kathryn LeVesconte, clinical psychologist from Yellow Springs, said prisons are not the solution to addiction and mental health crises that our county is facing. She wants rehabilitation services to be part of the prison’s plans and the proposed tax hike. Greene County District Attorney David Hayes, left, spoke out in favor of the new facility. (Photo by Jessica Thomas)

Prison tax has been rejected again

In November, Greene County voters rejected Issue 1, a proposal by the Greene County Commissioners’ Council to increase the county’s sales tax by 0.25% to build a new jail, with 13,334 voters 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 tax was also rejected in 2020.

Sheriff Gene Fischer dies

Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer died suddenly on November 16. Fischer was 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 power through county voters in the following election. Prior to his tenure as sheriff, Fischer served as Xenia’s police officer for 20 years.

CRB talks continue

In December, Council voted to approve the allocation of $ 15,000 for the creation of a Village Citizen Review Board, or CRB, to deal with 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 under discussion.

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