CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Jury trial selection longer than expected in Trevino trial
It will take longer than expected to pick a jury for the trial of Jeffrey Trevino, the Minnesota man accused of killing his wife from the Wausau area. Three men and one woman have been named to Trevino's jury in Saint Paul. Five candidates were rejected. Others were being questioned this afternoon by attorneys on both sides. About 30 people were sent home for the day -- and they'll be called for questioning tomorrow. Jury selection was expected to take two days, but there will be at least a third. Trevino is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the beating death of 30-year-old Kira Steger Trevino. She went missing in late February, and her body was found in the Mississippi River in Saint Paul in early May. Potential jurors were asked how much media coverage they remember about the case -- particularly a report about the blood found inside the Trevinos' rental home. Authorities have cited an apparent effort by Jeffrey Trevino to hide evidence in the case. Trevino's D-N-A was found in a carpet cleaning machine. Attorneys expect to seat a jury of 14, with two alternates. Twelve will be chosen after the testimony to decide Trevino's fate. The trial is expected to last about three weeks.
The U-W Madison police chief says school shootings almost never happen without the shooter telegraphing intentions ahead of time. Susan Riseling (rise'-ling) made the observation today during a panel discussion at the national attorneys general conference in Milwaukee. This week's summit is focusing on child safety. Riseling said she has studied school shootings -- and inevitably, the attackers plan and prepare their assaults. She says it's the best time for authorities to intervene if they can. It happened in Green Bay a few years ago, when a student told a teacher about two classmates working on a shooting massacre. Colorado officials say they've been working on an advance warning system which encourages kids to speak up when they hear something. That state's attorney general, Cynthia Coffman, said her program involves anonymous tips. She says the program has helped officials prevent 28 planned school shooting incidents over the past nine years.
A western Wisconsin man is due in court next Monday, for an incident in which his six-year-old son wounded his four-year-old sister with a shotgun. 48-year-old Fred Maphis of Merrillan is charged in Jackson County with misdemeanor counts of leaving a loaded firearm near a child, and obstructing an officer. Prosecutors said Maphis was negligent when he left the shotgun out on August 30th. Officials said he then told his son to lie about accidentally shooting his sister. She suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the incident, and was being treated at a La Crosse hospital. Investigators said Maphis was watching T-V when his son shot his sister in another room. The man told authorities he normally locks his weapons -- but he forgot to unload his shotgun this time. Officials said the gun was apparently left on top of a dog kennel, after Maphis shot at birds which were going after his chickens.
A judge in Milwaukee ruled today that it's unconstitutional for local governments to assess property taxes to certain groups, while they challenge a rejection of a tax-exempt status. Circuit Judge Christopher Foley issued his decision in a case involving the Jerusalem Empowered African Methodist Episcopal Church on Milwaukee's northwest side. The dispute involves what the city calls an "excess" parcel of vacant land on the church site. The city said the land should be taxed -- and it required the church to pay about 27-thousand dollars in taxes and other costs before it can appeal. The church said it could not afford the taxes, and it could not borrow for them. So the church said the city was violating the church's right to due process. Judge Foley agreed today. He said the decision only applies to non-profit benevolent groups which cannot pay the taxes they challenge. Milwaukee officials said the ruling is not a big deal, because it was limited in scope.
A plea deal is being sought on 16-of-the-26 charges that a Sheboygan man faces for allegedly torturing his family over several years. 40-year-old Lao Jin has pleaded innocent-by-insanity to all but one of the 26 counts. Yesterday, Jin pleaded no contest to a firearms-related charge. He will not be sentenced on that count until the rest of his case is settled. The plea eliminates one of seven separate trials that Jin had been facing. He's accused of whipping, punching, and terrorizing his five children, ages 6-to-14. A court hearing in July revealed that the kids were afraid to go to sleep for fear they'd be murdered. Lin's charges include strangulation-and-suffocation, reckless endangerment, intimidating victims, and causing mental harm to children. He remains in jail under a three-quarter-million-dollar bond.
________________Brown Deer police say they've arrested a man who allegedly confronted his wife with a gun on Monday. Authorities say they have been looking for 36-year-old Jorge Aldape, of Milwaukee, after he walked into his wife’s workplace and got into a dispute with her. The victim was reportedly injured in the dispute. The couple took off before police arrived, but they later found his wife and helped her. With assistance from the public, Aldape was located and arrested this afternoon. He is charged with reckless endangerment and domestic violence battery. ________________ A Waukesha woman is accused of neglecting four children. 33-year-old Julie Bayless has been charged with child neglect in Waukesha County Circuit Court. According to a criminal complaint, officers responded to Bayless’ home and reported dirty clothes, marijuana pipes, drug paraphernalia and extension cords covering the floors. The complaint also shows the children were sleeping on stained mattresses with no sheets and had no access to food. Authorities say the mother was unemployed and behind on utilities, so the family burrowed electricity from another tenant. Bayless is scheduled to appear in court on September 30. If convicted, she could face up to nine months in prison and 10-thousand dollars in fines.