Midday News Brief

Written by on January 5, 2022

A Batavia man who previously served time in prison for a downstate murder was arrested yesterday for the overdose of a woman in his apartment. 61-year-old Makeen Ithna-Asheri is charged with manslaughter, criminal possession of a controlled substance and, because the overdose was witnessed by two children, endangering the welfare of a child. He was also charged with violating parole. The manslaughter charge is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Thousands of prison inmates were wrongfully punished after false positives resulted from prison drug tests. As a result, the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision could face legal action or penalties. The department has since stopped imposing penalties based solely on positive Microgenics drug test results when confirmation from an outside laboratory was unavailable. They have subsequently agreed to reverse and expunge all related disciplinary actions based on faulty results.

Governor Hochul will be laying out her vision for the year ahead during her first State of the State address today. The governor is going to give her speech at one p-m in the Assembly Chamber at the State Capitol. Among the items she’s expected to discuss are the state’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 crisis and putting term limits in place for statewide elected officials. Anyone who wants to watch the Hochul’s speech this afternoon can do so at governor.ny.gov.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says all sides involved in negotiating a new stadium lease for the Buffalo Bills are getting closer to striking a deal. But, Poloncarz said yesterday that while talks are ongoing, a final agreement isn’t imminent. The owners of the Bills want to build an over one-billion-dollar facility across from Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park which is where the team plays its home games. The Bills’ lease is scheduled to expire in 2023.

The Monroe County Department of Public Health says nearly two-thousand more residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There were 19-hundred 95 new cases reported yesterday which brings the overall total since the pandemic started to 122-thousand 270. The county is averaging 16-hundred 99 cases per day over the past week. The rolling seven-day rolling average positivity rate is also on the rise and now sits at 18-point-five percent. // New data from the Erie County Department of Health shows the spread of COVID-19 is continuing to worsen. Yesterday, the agency said that over 15-thousand residents have tested positive for the virus in the past week, bringing the overall total since the pandemic started to 160-thousand and 40. It’s important to note that data doesn’t include the results of at-home COVID-19 tests. The death toll due to the virus has also increased over the last seven days and now sits at 23-hundred and 19.

A Middleport man could be spending up to the next seven years behind bars after pleading guilty in connection with a knife attack. Prosecutors say 59-year-old Scott Whittaker admitted to assaulting Jason Tschetter on Freeman Road in Royalton this past August. The victim was treated for an injury to his face. Whittaker is being held in jail on five-thousand-dollars bail and will be sentenced in March.

The Rotary Girl’s Basketball Tournament – initially scheduled for tomorrow night – has been moved to tonight, due to the threat of bad weather tomorrow. The consolation and championship games will be played at GCC tonight, beginning at 6pm. Hear live coverage on WBTA with Paul Spiotta.

The Genesee County Office for Aging is cancelling home delivered meals and lunch-time meal sites for Thursday. Clients should use emergency meals.

An inmate at the Monroe County Jail is facing charges after attacking a female deputy at the facility. Officials say the deputy was serving 23-year-old Dawntaya Harris dinner on Sunday when she pushed her cell door open and knocked the deputy to the ground before putting her in a chokehold. The deputy was taken to the hospital for treatment but later released. Harris was arraigned yesterday on two felony charges.

In just a few hours, one of the largest prizes in lottery history is going to be up for grabs. Tonight’s Powerball jackpot has grown to at least 610-million-dollars, which is the seventh-highest in the history of the game. No one has won the top Powerball prize since October. Tickets to play are just two dollars apiece. Tonight’s drawing will be streamed live online at Powerball.com.

Albany County District Attorney David Soares is explaining his decision to no longer prosecute groping allegations made against former Governor Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo is accused of inappropriately touching a female aide at the Executive Mansion in Albany back in December 2020, a claim that he’s denied. Soares says while his office found the woman to be both cooperative and credible, there isn’t enough evidence to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. Two other district attorneys in New York have also declined to prosecute Cuomo for alleged inappropriate conduct with women.

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