CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Judge being asked to halt bullying by a kindergartener in Kenosha County
A judge is being asked to halt bullying by a kindergartener in Kenosha County. A court hearing is set for Tuesday, after the parents of a six-year-old girl asked for a restraining order to keep a five-year-old boy away from her. The two are in the same class at Prairie Lane Elementary School in Pleasant Prairie. Police said the girl was kicked in the face, and has had rocks and sand thrown at her. The girl's father told Milwaukee T-V stations that his daughter has been threatened as well as attacked -- and the school should have done something about it sooner. Tanya Ruder of the Kenosha Unified School District said there are two sides to every story, but she couldn't give the school's take. The girl's father said he'll lobby to have the boy removed from Prairie Lane. One T-V report said another family has also complained to police about the same boy -- and they're thinking about seeking a restraining order as well.
Two-hundred-27 people died from heroin overdoses in Wisconsin last year -- ten-percent more than in 2012. That's according to Gannett Wisconsin Media, which found that overdose deaths skyrocketed over the past seven years. The state only averaged about 30 heroin deaths each year between 2000-and-2007. Last year, more than twice that many died in Milwaukee County alone. Gannett said 67 people died from overdoses of heroin in the state's most-populated county in 2013 -- up from just nine a decade before. Gannett, which has 10 daily newspapers in Wisconsin's mid-section, said 39 of the state's 72 counties had at least one heroin overdose death last year -- six counties more than in 2012. Law enforcement officials have said that more addicts turned to heroin after the prescription painkiller Oxy-Contin was reformulated four years ago to make it harder to inject and snort. The heroin problem in southeast Wisconsin will be examined at a forum on June fourth at Marquette University in Milwaukee.
At least two attorneys say a major court ruling this week could hurt the state's John Doe investigation into campaign activities in the Wisconsin recall elections. The federal appeals court in Chicago ruled that the state's ban on corporate political spending is unconstitutional -- and other laws that regulate issue ads and financial reporting by outside groups are either unconstitutional or too vague. Former A-C-L-U legal director Raymond Dall'Osto of Milwaukee tells the Journal Sentinel that the law against candidates coordinating with outside groups "may end up being not enforceable." The John Doe probe is looking for evidence that Republican groups and recall candidates -- including Governor Scott Walker -- may have violated the coordination law. Milwaukee campaign finance lawyer Mike Maistelman says the winners in this week's court rulings are the "Doe defendants." Milwaukee campaign finance laywer Jeremy Levinson does not agree. He said unreported coordination remains illegal -- and a group's spending in consultation with a campaign is an in-kind contribution that must be reported as a donation and meet state limits. State officials and prosecutors have not commented. The Doe probe is currently on hold after a judge shut it down as part of a federal civil rights lawsuit.
Two men are scheduled to be sentenced this afternoon, for supplying the heroin that killed a Marshfield woman. Prosecutors have recommended a five-year prison sentence for 25-year-old Trenton Blume, who's in the state prison at Waupun on other convictions. The state also proposed a four-year term for 23-year-old Justin Drinka of Marshfield -- although Wood County Circuit Judge Greg Potter can impose something else if he chooses. Blume and Drinka have both pleaded no contest to first-degree reckless homicide in the death of 20-year-old Kayla Vanderwyst. She died in August of 2012, a day after she went to Wausau with the two defendants to get the drug. An autopsy showed that Vanderwyst died from overdoses of heroin and morphine.
A woman accused of kidnapping her half-sister's baby near Beloit, and leaving him behind in the cold, now says the F-B-I did not let her have an attorney when she was questioned. 32-year-old Kristen Smith of Aurora Colorado appeared yesterday before federal Magistrate Judge Stephen Crocker in Madison. She earlier pleaded innocent to taking Kayden Powell from a home in the town of Beloit in February, and leaving him in blankets in a storage bin behind an Iowa gas station in sub-zero temperatures. She was on her way home to Aurora Colorado at the time. Yesterday, Smith's lawyer Matt Noel said none of what she told officers in her first day in custody should be used against her in a possible trial, because the F-B-I never read Smith her rights. Smith also contended that her statement to an F-B-I agent was a request for an attorney. The agent reportedly assumed that Smith was saying what she might do if she didn't cooperate. Assistant U-S Attorney Julie Pfluger said officers read Smith her rights during her arrest, and again during further questioning and a polygraph test. She wanted to place into evidence the polygraph results and two later F-B-I interviews. Crocker is expected to rule on the matter next month.
A Merrill woman will find out August 20th how long she'll be in prison for killing two friends in a high-speed drunk driving crash. Twenty-six-year-old Ashley Baumann faces up to 66 years behind bars, after a Lincoln County jury found her guilty this week on all seven criminal charges she was facing. Defense lawyer Wright Laufenberg has not decided whether he'll appeal, but he has asked that evidence be preserved. He also wants Baumann freed on a cash bond until she's sentenced. She was sent to jail right after the verdict. A court hearing on pre-sentencing requests is set for June fifth. Prosecutors are not sure how much prison time they'll recommend, saying it depends on the results of a pre-sentence investigation. Baumann was convicted of causing a 2012 traffic crash in Merrill which killed Jessica Hartwig and Misty Glisch. Jurors did not buy the defense argument that another passenger was driving.