Police and Courts | WGLT

Police and Courts

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says the state is taking precautions ahead of the release of a video showing a Chicago police officer shooting and killing a 17-year-old.

Rauner is asking the state police to coordinate with Chicago police. He wouldn’t say if he’s also talked with the state’s National Guard - which falls under the command of the governor.
 

The Cook County state's attorney is defending the amount of time it took to charge a white Chicago police officer who shot a black teenager 16 times in a killing caught on dashcam video. Anita Alvarez's office announced a first-degree murder charge, just a day before a deadline the city faces for releasing the video and more than a year after the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Alvarez said cases involving police officers present ``highly complex'' legal issues and she would rather take the time to get it right than ``rush to judgment.''  

Two Libertarian political candidates are asking a federal court to declare unconstitutional an Illinois ban on political contributions from the medical marijuana industry. Claire Ball of Addison and Scott Schluter of Marion filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Chicago last week. They say they support marijuana legalization and want to solicit campaign donations from the marijuana industry. Illinois law bars such contributions.  

Harris Verdict Upheld

Nov 24, 2015

An appellate court has upheld the convictions of a man for fatally beating five members of his ex-wife's family in their central Illinois home. The Fourth District Appellate Court denied the appeal of 35-year-old Christopher Harris. He's serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for killing Ruth and Rick Gee and three of their children in Beason on Sept. 21, 2009. Harris argued the trial court erred in refusing to admit 2007 statements from the Gees saying they worried about violent outbursts by a son, 14-year-old Dillen Constant. Constant also was beaten to death.

Charges Tossed In Champaign County

Nov 23, 2015

A man who spent more than two years in jail on gun charges in Champaign County has been released after a judge says that the state didn't bring him to trial within an appropriate timeframe. Champaign County Judge Heidi Ladd dismissed armed habitual criminal charges against 43-year-old Kevin Pettis. He was accused of firing a gun into the air during an incident in July 2013 in Champaign. He was released Nov. 16. State's Attorney Julia Rietz says she plans to ask an appeals court to review Ladd's ruling.  
    

Bloomington Police say they have arrested three people in a drug investigation, an adult and two juveniles. Officers also say they seized two stolen handguns, ammunition, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia. 20-year old Diondre Thornton-Kirkwood faces charges involving the weapons and criminal fortification of a residence. A 16 year old juvenile was arrested for cannabis delivery. A 15 year old juvenile was taken in on a warrant.

A SWAT team and crisis negotiators helped officers end the standoff that began when police tried to serve a warrant.
 

E2 Owners Resentenced

Nov 20, 2015

The two owners of a Chicago nightclub where 21 people were crushed to death in a stairwell in 2003 have been sentenced to two years of probation. Cook County Circuit Court Associate Judge Daniel Gillespie also ordered Calvin Hollins Jr. and Dwain Kyles to perform 500 hours of community service.  

Hollins and Kyles thanked the judge for the sentence during Friday's hearing. The two had originally been sentenced to two years in prison, but an appeals court threw out those sentences in 2013 and ordered them resentenced.  

Staff / WGLT

November 20  Illinois State University Environmental Health and Safety opened the package and discovered documents, according to ISU spokesperson Eric Jome. He says the suspicion regarding the parcel was based on a misunderstanding about the origin and intent of the package.

November 19, 7:38 PM The package has been turned over to ISU's Environmental Health and Safety Office. Jome says staff with office will open the package in a controlled environment tomorrow. Jome says he doesn't know which professor received the package or where it originated.

Body Found Near Pekin Identified

Nov 19, 2015

Police have identified a badly decomposed body found in a wooded area as a Pekin man who disappeared in June. Tazewell County Coroner Jeff Baldi says 59-year-old Lionel ``Lonnie'' Graham's cause of death wasn't determined during a Wednesday autopsy. He says it could remain undetermined due to the extent of the damage to the remains. A deer hunter found Graham's remains in thick, swampy woods in North Pekin on Tuesday. The woods are under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Conservation. The department is investigating the death along with Illinois State Police.

Tori Rector / Flickr via Creative Commons

Court fees in McLean County are going up again. County Board members have approved hiking the fee supporting the Children's Advocacy Center from $15 to $16.50. Justice committee chair and retired judge William Caisley argued against the hike, saying court fees are already too high.

Caisley says McLean County is already among the top four Illinois counties when it comes to fee dollars supporting the CAC. He argues for what he calls a fairer approach.

The Illinois Supreme Court is taking on another pension case, six months after justices unanimously tossed out the state's landmark pension law. Tuesday, they heard arguments as to whether a law affecting thousands of City of Chicago employees is constitutional or not. IPR's Amanda Vinicky reports from Springfield.

Police Eye Medical Marijuana Impaired Driving

Nov 16, 2015
Goodnightlondon / Creative Commons

Medical Marijuana's been available for patients with certain diseases and ailments for one week in Illinois.

A McLean County jury has convicted a man of home invasion. Prosecutors say Samuel Siatta delivered a cut to the head of a person in the victim's residence.

Siatta will be sentenced on the Class X offense at the end of January. He will be eligible for 6 to 30 years in prison.

The State's Attorney's office says home invasions are serious cases because they usually involve a person entering or remaining in someone else's residence and threatening or injuring them with a weapon.

The Director of the McLean County Health Department is trying to reassure County Board members that funding for drug court will not be jeopardized next budget year. Last week the department agreed to fund drug court at the same level as last year. Now the health board has approved spending less direct money than was talked about earlier. Health Department Director Walt Howe says the difference is that they want service provider Chestnut Health Systems to try billing Medicaid for the service first and then asking the county for payment.

A McLean County Circuit Judge has sentenced a Bloomington man to 14 years in prison on a child pornography conviction. 31-year old David Mariani of Chatsford Court had earlier pleaded guilty to distributing images. Police say they found more than 2,000 images of young children on Mariani's computer as part of a statewide crackdown on child porn by law enforcement and the Attorney General's office. Numerous other charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

How do you get a 17-year-old to confess to a crime he didn’t commit? Turns out it’s not that hard.

Judge Rules Against Amanda Ware

Nov 6, 2015

An Illinois judge says a mother convicted in connection with 2003 the deaths of her three children remains an abusive and neglectful parent. Friday's ruling against Amanda Hamm comes in her legal fight for her new family. Hamm was convicted of child endangerment for watching her then-boyfriend carry out a plot to drown her three children in Clinton Lake. Maurice LaGrone Junior was convicted of first-degree murder.

Burglary Victims Can Claim Stolen Goods

Nov 6, 2015

The Bloomington Police Department says victims of a series of recent burglaries are invited to claim their property. Earlier this week three men were arrested during a burglary, and police say they recovered what they believe is loot from 21 other robberies. The series of burglaries occurred between September and October. The recovered property will be at the Police Department Monday between noon at 7:30pm for victims to claim. An ID will be required.

State Supreme Court Again Rules For Philip Morris

Nov 4, 2015

The Illinois Supreme Court has once again ruled in favor of tobacco giant Philip Morris, saving the company from a 10-billion-dollar lawsuit. IPR's Brian Mackey has more on the decision.

Herrin Massacre Victims Recovered

Nov 4, 2015
unknown / Duluth Herald

A southern Illinois town where striking union coal miners clashed with replacement workers in one of the nation's deadliest labor conflicts has completed an effort to identify victims buried nearly one century ago in unmarked graves. Most of the 23 victims of the June 1922 Herrin Massacre were buried in an old pauper's field at the city cemetery. An archaeological team has worked since 2009 to pinpoint those burial locations. The Herrin City Council has voted unanimously to curtail the excavation after the research team located the remaining eight of 16 burial plots under review.

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

The McLean County Health Department is revising its proposed budget for next fiscal year, after some members of the county board health committee questioned the recommended removal of nearly 50% of drug court funding. County Administrator Bill Wasson says most of the drug court funds are being restored.

Insurance Companies Sue State Treasurer

Nov 3, 2015

Three insurers have sued Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs over an attempt to seek records on life insurance policies. Frerichs said Monday an audit was sought to find unpaid death benefits because returning unclaimed property is part of his office's mission. Frerichs says beneficiaries might be unaware policies exist. The information received would be checked against a federal death database. The lawsuit filed last week in Sangamon County argues the treasurer doesn't have such authority; benefits are paid if there's a claim and proof of death. The insurers are Chicago-based Kemper Corp.

Tony Webster / Wikimedia Commons

On January first, a new state law will go into effect that addresses police use of force. The law prohibits the use of chokeholds which have led to the deaths of suspects in some cases. GLT's Judy Valente talked with Illinois State University criminal justice professor Jason Ingram who speaks this week on police use of force.

After a legal career of more than four decades, McLean County Circuit Judge Charles Reynard says he's retiring at the end of the year. Reynard has spent 13 years as a judge, nearly 16 before that as McLean County State's Attorney, and another 14 years in private practice and as an assistant prosecutor.

He says he's not sure exactly what the next chapter will bring in his life.

Reynard says the highlight has been the last five years in family law cases serving huge needs.

A Cook County judge says he will rule Nov. 6 in a custody battle involving a central Illinois woman who's fighting a state agency's decision to take away her three children. Illinois child-welfare workers took Amanda Ware's three children last year after learning that in 2003 three of her other children drowned. Those children _ ages 6, 3, 2 _ died when the car they were in rolled into a central Illinois lake. Ware, then known as Amanda Hamm, served five years in prison for child endangerment. Her then-boyfriend Maurice LaGrone was convicted of their murders and is serving a life sentence.

A judge has found a central Illinois man fit to go to trial on charges he left his 6-month-old baby daughter to die by abandoning her in a bean field. Champaign County Judge Tom Difanis entered the finding Tuesday for Thomas Boitnott. It means he is now able to understand the charges against him and work with his attorney on his defense. The 24-year-old St. Joseph man was charged in June with attempted murder, child abduction and possession of a stolen vehicle. Authorities say he snatched the baby girl from her mother's St. Joseph apartment. She reported the baby missing.

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

The McLean County Health Department wants to shift money away from drug court treatment and to other programs. Next year's proposed budget reduces county funding for drug court by $100,000 at a time when the county just asked for and received mental health funding from increased sales taxes in Bloomington and Normal. Health Department Director Walt Howe says changes in federal programs can replace the money because single men are now eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act expansion of Medicaid.

More Arrests In Peoria Murder Of Teen

Oct 23, 2015

Peoria police have arrested two more suspects in the slaying of a 14-year-old Peoria boy who was shot to death during a home invasion this month. 18-year-old Kiangelo G. Marshall and a 17-year-old whose identity was not released because of his age were arrested Thursday in Fulton County by the United States Marshals Fugitive Task Force. Both were charged with murder and home invasion - the same charged facing four other suspects who had previously been arrested. The other suspects have appeared in court and their bonds were each set at $2 million. Tommie T.

A 50-year old man arrested for soliciting an underage boy for sex in Decatur is a recent applicant to be McLean County Coroner. Police reports indicate Vincent C. Peters was arrested after allegedly posting an ad on Craiglist seeking a young male for sex. Peters was arrested after an on line conversation with a Decatur Police Detective posing as a fifteen year old boy led to a physical meeting.

Officers say Peters acknowledged he intended to meet the boy for sex. His current residence is in Clinton but he listed a Bloomington residence last year on his application to be Coroner.

Sandi Jackson Reports To Prison

Oct 20, 2015

The wife of former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has reported to prison on a conviction related to $750,000 in spending of his campaign money on everything from fur capes to vacations. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons says 52-year-old Sandi Jackson reported to the Federal Prison Camp at Alderson in West Virginia to begin serving her one-year sentence on a tax conviction related to the illegal spending.  

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