State briefs

Gas prices up slightly compared with a week ago

COLUMBUS — Gas prices around Ohio are up slightly from a week ago, while down from the average this time last month.

Ohio’s average price for a gallon of regular gas was $2.09 in Monday’s survey from auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and WEX Inc. That’s up three cents from a week ago, but 16 cents less than the $2.25 average reported a month ago.

The national average price on Monday was $2.13, compared with $2.16 a week ago and $2.28 this time last month.

The average price in Ohio a year ago was $2.34, and the national average was $2.66.

Gas prices continue to benefit from abundant fuel supplies and declining crude oil costs.

Judge won’t dismiss claims against Pilot Flying J chain

COLUMBUS — An Ohio judge won’t dismiss breach-of-contract and other claims against the truck-stop chain owned by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and his brother, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

Several companies have sued Pilot Flying J in connection with a scheme to cheat customers out of promised discounts and rebates.

A Franklin County judge this week refused the chain’s request to dismiss claims in an Ohio suit. He concluded the companies making the allegations provided sufficient information to pursue the claims.

Jimmy Haslam isn’t charged and has denied knowing about the scheme, which came to light after federal agents raided the company’s Knoxville, Tennessee, headquarters in 2013. It led to millions of dollars in settlements and charges against some employees.

Bill Haslam has said he isn’t involved with operating the company.

Suspect in officer’s shooting wants trial moved

MOUNT VERNON — The attorney for a man accused of fatally shooting an Ohio policeman is seeking to move the trial, citing “extensive” publicity in the potential death penalty case.

Herschel Jones III pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder and other charges in the January slaying of Danville Officer Thomas Cottrell. The 34-year-old Cottrell was found behind the village’s municipal building, after Jones’ ex-girlfriend warned police that he was “looking to kill a cop.”

Jones’ attorney argues it would be impossible to get an impartial jury from Knox County because its residents have been exposed to extensive coverage about Jones, who has a lengthy criminal history.

The pretrial filing was among nearly three dozen the defense submitted last week. Others deal with determining whether the defendant has an intellectual disability and restricting victim-impact evidence.

Trial set for mayor, stand-up comedian

HILLSBORO — A judge on Monday scheduled a Nov. 7 trial for the mayor of a small Ohio city who’s also a veteran standup comedian.

A judge entered “not guilty” pleas Monday for Drew Hastings after the defense waived readings of the charges against him. Retired Summit County Common Pleas Judge Patricia Ann Cosgrove is hearing the case after a local judge recused himself.

Cosgrove also warned those involved in the case about engaging in pretrial publicity, including in comments on social media.

“There has been a lot of publicity,” she said. “We’re going to try this case in the courtroom.”

Cosgrove set a pretrial hearing for Oct. 12

Hastings, a Republican, is Hillsboro’s second-term mayor. He was indicted last month on counts including election falsification and theft in office.

Hastings has said he has done nothing wrong other than try to lead the city without the consent of the “established political structure.”

The election falsification charge concerns his residency in the city of 6,600 residents, where he has a downtown apartment. He also has a farm outside of town. Other charges stem from a $500 city fee refund for a vacant building he owned and the alleged use of city trash bins for private debris disposal.

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