The iOpener: Jury Convicts Man in Car Dealership Double Murder; Blue Jackets Sweep Lightning

Good morning, iOpeners. It's Wednesday April 17, 2019. On this day in 1970, the Apollo 13 command module splashed down four days after an oxygen tank exploded, almost dooming the mission. Who hasn't said "Houston, we have a problem" when things go horribly wrong?

A jury found a Cleveland man guilty on all counts in the execution-style murder of a couple at a Collinwood car dealership two years ago.  Joseph McAlpin chose to represent himself in court during the 22-day trial.  He faces either life in prison, life without parole or death penalty in the deaths of Trina Tomola and Michael Kuznik, who were both shot in the head inside their business, Mr. Cars, on E. 185th St. in 2017. The sentencing phase of the trial begins Monday. 

A Cuyahoga County Council committee has called for an internal investigation into the way the county’s troubled Information Technology Department used a federal grant, after the head administrator of the department failed to show up to answer questions. Michael Young submitted a letter Monday saying he was resigning at the end of the month.  He also stated in the letter he was taking “personal time” on Tuesday.  A county official told the Public Safety and Justice Committee that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had required that a nearly $300,000 grant be used to buy servers that would be dedicated to a fingerprint identification system.  County officials learned the servers were being used for other purposes. The county could be required to return the money.

Janitors rallied in Playhouse Square, demanding higher wages. Members of SEIU Local One say their members are working for just over $11 an hour on average, cleaning the properties of developers who are receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in public subsidies. They want a $15 an hour wage. The local is currently in contract negotiations.  SEIU members from around the country joined yesterday's demonstration.

A review of the RTA’s rail cars is recommending that the RTA replace all of them within ten years. The consultants, LTK, an engineering group, found maintenance costs for the RTA’s heavy rail cars have jumped 148 percent in recent years, while upkeep on light rail cars have increased 80 percent. LTK told the RTA’s board of trustees the cheapest replacement option would cost $717 million for both fleets. The RTA’s interim CEO, Floun’say Caver, called the replacement of heavy rail cars an “immediate need,” and said his team would look for funding.     

The Columbus Blue Jackets made history, sweeping the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning out of the playoffs in four straight games. Last night’s 7-3 victory ousted a team that had put together one of the most prolific scoring lineups ever, and whose 68 regular-season wins tied for the most in NHL history. The Blue Jackets advance to play the winner of the Boston-Toronto series.

The Indians beat the Seattle Mariners, 4-2. Shane Bieber struck out five and combined with three relievers to hold Seattle to six hits.  The Mariners extended their major league-record home run streak to 20 games, with a solo shot by Jay Bruce off Indians reliever Neil Ramirez.

Weather forecast: Mostly cloudy, high 63. Tonight, cloudy, low 59. Thursday, cloudy, breezy and warm, high 72, with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms.

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