CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Debate rages on about the future of the suspects who stabbed a 12-year-old girl
The stabbing of a 12-year-old Waukesha girl has put a new focus on a state law that requires adult charges for murder and attempted murder suspects as young as 10. Wisconsin is among 29 states that require adult charges for children accused of committing the most serious crimes. Many of those laws were passed in the 1980's-and-'90's, amid concern that America would fall prey to youngsters from broken homes who'd show no remorse for killing. Some juvenile crime experts say offenders this young do not pose long-term threats to society. But a former legislator who wrote the Wisconsin law still stands by it. It's tougher than most states, because it allows adult charges as young as ten instead of the general norm of 13. In the Waukesha case, a pair of 12-year-old girls are accused of stabbing a friend 19 times to curry favor with a fictional character from a Web site with horror stories. Former Assembly Republican Bonnie Ladwig of Racine County still believes the law is proper. She tells the A-P she has no sympathy for the girls who are now charged. Ladwig said it was obvious that the stabbings were no accident, amid reports that they had planned it for months. Emily Keller of the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia she generally opposes the laws on adult charges for young children. But she tells the A-P that judges would probably send the most heinous juvenile cases to adult courts anyway.
State prosecutors said a federal judge was wrong to declare that targets were aggressively raided at their homes during the John Doe probe into the state's recall elections. Milwaukee County D-A John Chisholm defended his evidence-gathering techniques in a court filing, as he appeals Judge Rudolph Randa's ruling which halted the John Doe last month. The ruling came in a lawsuit by the conservative Wisconsin Club for Growth, which claims its free-speech rights were violated. An attorney for Chisholm told the federal appeals court in Chicago that the Club for Growth has not produced witnesses or evidence to back up their claims about strong-armed raids on conservatives' homes. In his ruling last month, Randa said sheriff's deputies used bright flood-lights to illuminate the targets' homes at night -- and they took business papers and equipment while "their targets were restrained under police supervision and denied the ability to contact their attorneys." Randa had referred in part to raids last October at the homes of Club for Growth consultants R-J Johnson and Deborah Jordahl. Prosecutors are trying to revive the John Doe in the midst of reported settlement talks. The probe is looking alleged illegal fund-raising and coordination between private groups and Republican candidates -- including Governor Scott Walker's camp -- in the 2011-'12 recall elections.
A Stratford man has been sentenced to five years and three months in a federal prison for selling guns, grenades, and the silencer used in a Wausau murder. Federal Judge William Conley also ordered Tyler Jenkens to spend three years under extended supervision once he gets out. Officials said Jenkens was about a year away from having a marijuana conviction expunged when he sold a firearm to a confidential informant. A search later turned up six weapons -- including a stolen gun, two homemade hand grenades, and a silencer that prosecutors said was used in the January third shooting death of K-C Elliott in Wausau. John Lewis is still facing charges in that homicide. Assistant U-S Attorney Rita Rumbelow wanted at least a six-year prison sentence, saying that Jenkens was "proud to be a criminal." He told the judge that firearms were his hobby -- and he made the grenades and silencer so he could have things that most people wouldn't. Conley reminded Jenkens that his prior criminal record barred him from having firearms.
Dozens of animals that were seized from a Racine County rescue shelter will start going up for adoption in the next couple of weeks. Police removed about 90 dogs and cats in recent days from the Orphan Kanines' shelter in Caledonia, and from two homes in the area. The shelter's owner has given up ownership of the seized animals. The Racine Journal Times says about half the dogs are now at a temporary shelter in that city, while others are at Wisconsin Humane Society facilities in Racine, Milwaukee, and Ozaukee counties. The owners of two seized dogs have come forward -- and officials say they'll take their pets home soon. Angela Speed of the Humane Society says efforts are now being made to get the other pets ready for adoption. Authorities said they discovered unsafe conditions at the Caledonia shelter during a routine fire inspection. Among other things, officials said ammonia levels in the building were unsafe for humans -- which is why it took a while for the animals to be removed.
A homeless man faces a possible burglary charge, for allegedly breaking into a church in Oshkosh. Police said they used surveillance video to identify the 26-year-old suspect, in connection with a May 13th burglary at Grace Lutheran Church. Police say they'll also seek theft charges, after he allegedly stole money from donation boxes at a Catholic church in Oshkosh. The man was arrested on Tuesday, after police in nearby Appleton found him. He was returned to Oshkosh, where officers interviewed him and took him into custody.