UNION TWP, Ohio - Clermont County's Assistant Prosecutor said Monday charges could be upgraded from involuntary manslaughter to felony murder in connection from Sunday's double fatal traffic accident in Union Township.
The accident occurred at the junction of Route 32 and Bells Lane when a truck police said was stolen rammed into a minivan carrying two women on their way home from services at the Withamsville Church of Christ.
Killed were Corean Hutcherson, 78, and Betty Hines, 75. The widows lived next door to one another on Roney Lane and had been friends for years.
Charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter was Ronald Godfrey, 33, of YMCA Road in Anderson Township. Police said he was driving the stolen truck. His bond was set at $500,000 cash during a Monday hearing in Clermont County Municipal Court.
A passenger in the truck, Jeffrey Moore, 41, of West Main Street in Owensville, was accused with receiving stolen property. His bond was set at $150,000.
Both men are in the Clermont County Jail. Both have a preliminary hearing scheduled for Aug. 7 at 3 p.m. However, that won't be necessary if an indictment is returned before then by a Clermont County Grand Jury. That appears to be a distinct possibility.
"Based on the preliminary information that we have right now, we intend to pursue felony murder charges against both men," said Clermont County Assistant Prosecutor Daniel "Woody" Breyer.
The events leading up to the crash began earlier Sunday afternoon in Pierce Township at Cahall Brothers, Inc, on Route 125 in Pierce Township.
Cory Cahall said the business had been robbed of equipment on Tuesday. On Sunday, one of his salesmen stopped by the store to return equipment that had been used at the Clermont County Fair. He asked neighbors to call if they saw anything suspicious.
It only took 30 minutes for something to happen. A truck that had driven by the business three or four times turned into the Cahall lot. Two men began loading a John Deere Gator onto a trailer.
"The neighbor sent his teenage sons over and told the men to stop what they were doing," said Cahall.
The men quickly jumped into the truck and sped off. However, the unsecured Gator fell off the back of the trailer and the trailer became detached from the truck.
Pierce Township police were called. Union Township Police were alerted. A pursuit was in progress, but the truck wouldn't stop. It only came to a rest after the fatal accident.
The Ohio Highway Patrol has an accident reconstruction team investigating the incident.
Hutcherson's nephew Butch Dobson said his aunt was born in southeastern Kentucky, but moved to the Cincinnati area as a teenager. She was an accountant and bookkeeper and still worked one day a week for A-Plus Trucking on Colerain Avenue in Colerain Township.
Neighbors said Hutcherson and Hines regularly walked on Roney Lane with Hutcher's Jack Russell Terrire, Jackie Jean. They were described as friendly and caring and the sort of people who would stop and talk with anyone.
Hines lived with her daughter, had a close family, was retired and loved to travel, said one neighbor.
Court records indicate this wasn't the first time Godfrey had been involved in a crime. He was indicted by a Hamilton County Grand Jury on July 25 on two counts of receiving stolen property. The charges stemmed from the alleged theft of a U-Haul truck from a dealer at the corner of Beechmont Avenue and Eight Mile Road and the reported use of that vehicle in taking two Cub Cadet tractors from Clermont Equipment.
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