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August 2017: Demolition Of Former JC Penney Building; Beck's Mill Celebrates 209 Years; Griffin Found Not Guilty Of Murder
Updated January 2, 2018 10:04 AM
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(UNDATED) - In August 2017 the former JC Penney building was tore down to make way for the StoneGate Arts & Education Center, Beck's Mill celebrated 209 years; Brown County judge ruled man in hatchet attack found not guilty as result of mental disease or defect.

Demolition Of Former JC Penney Building

Demolition of the former JC Penney building at the corner of 15th and J streets began in August 2-17.

The site will be home to the StoneGate Arts & Education Center, which is part of the city's Stellar projects.

Construction on the $4.4 million building is expected to take 11 months.

Beck's Mill Celebrating 209 Years

Beck's Mill in Salem celebrated 209 years of milling on Saturday, Aug. 26th.

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The first milling was on Aug. 28, 1808. The mill became a tourist attraction by a family tradition that was performed every year on the closest Saturday to the date of the first "grind." It was tradition to drain the dam to clean it of debris.

In the early 1900's Essie Beck Allen (fifth generation) still continued this tradition even though the Beck's business had slowed down. The families of Washington County were interested in the mill and found this cleaning day a great opportunity to have a picnic and enjoy the mill.

Griffin Found Not Guilty Of Murder

A Monroe County jury found John Griffin not guilty in the murder of 66-year-old Donald Gentry.
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Griffin was accused of killing 66-year-old Donald Gentry, who was found beaten to death at his mobile home in the 4500 block of Old State Road 37 South the afternoon of Sept. 12, 2016.

Gentry suffered so many blows to his head and face that an exact number of injuries could not be determined during an autopsy. Police say Gentry was bludgeoned with a landscaping brick and claw hammer.

The jury spent almost three hours deliberating.

Ericson Found Not Guilty In Hatchet Attack Due To Mental Illness

Dana Ericson was found not guilty by Brown Circuit Court Judge Judith Stewart.

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Judge Stewart ruled that 61-year-old Ericson was not guilty as a result of mental disease or defect during a two-day bench trial. He will be committed to a state mental institution until he is deemed competent.

Judge Stewart ruled Ericson has a 30-year history of serious mental illness, was not responsible and could not be held criminally accountable for the hatchet attack.

"It's one of the hardest decisions the court has had to make," she said, "but it is also clear cut. Mr. Ericson has suffered from mental illness for decades, and continues to," Stewart said.

Ericson was charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery and battery causing serious injury after he attacked now 19-year-old Yue Zhang of China twice in the back with a hatchet on February 18, 2016.

According to police, Ericson approached Zhang, yelling he was going to kill her and striking her in the back with a hatchet.

Zhang, who was attending Brown County High School as an exchange student, was struck while taking photos for a high school class near Trolly's BBQ in downtown Nashville. Police say Ericson ran across Van Buren Street near the courthouse and hit her in the back two times with a hatchet. Zhang's thick coat prevented her injury from being fatal.

She was treated at a Columbus hospital for a deep, 2-inch laceration that measured about an inch wide and was released. Her heavy coat lessened the impact from the three-inch blade that caused a cut an inch from her spinal column.

After his arrest, Ericson, told police he was attempting "ethnic cleansing." He testified Tuesday saying the attack was out of character and he has no racial hatred.

Forensic psychiatrist George Palmer testified Ericson was delusional and probably hallucinating at the time of the attack. He had assessed Ericson's mental status several times over the past 14 years and says Ericson's mental health issues are real and severe.

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