CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Kenosha School Board member cited for possession of drug paraphernalia
Wisconsin's photo I-D law for voting goes on trial today in the State Supreme Court. The justices will hear arguments on two challenges to the I-D law, filed by the League of Women Voters and the N-Double-A-C-P. In each case, Dane County judges ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. A state appellate court later ruled that voter I-D was constitutional in the League's case. Once the league appealed to the Supreme Court, the justices decided to consider the N-Double-A-C-P's challenge at the same time. Today, justices have allotted one hour for each case. It's not known when final rulings are expected. Meanwhile, two other challenges to the photo I-D voting law are pending in a federal court in Milwaukee. Republicans adopted the law in 2011, saying it's needed to fight voter fraud. Opponents say the law discourages the poor-and-elderly from going to the polls. Wisconsin's I-D law has been held up until the courts could decide whether it's constitutional. It's only been used once, in the February primary elections in 2012.
A Bayfield County judge rejected a lenient plea deal, and sentenced a mother to two years in prison for killing her young daughter in a traffic crash. Both the prosecution and defense agreed to probation and a year in the county jail for 24-year-old Chelsea Cadotte of Bayfield. Instead, Circuit Judge Kelly Thimm sent Cadotte to a state prison yesterday for twice the amount of time agreed upon -- plus an extra six-months in jail. Thimm said Cadotte deserves a tougher sentence because she put her own seat-belt on, but did not restrain her children when her S-U-V rolled over in July of 2012 on Highway 13 near Washburn. Her two-year-old daughter Mariah Gordon died, and four-year-old Miley Gordon was left with a traumatic brain injury. Two other kids were also hurt. Last October, Cadotte pleaded no contest to negligent homicide, reckless endangerment, and reckless injury. Judge Thimm said Cadotte was ticketed in the past for seat-belt violations -- and she kept putting her children at risk. By buckling herself up and not her kids, Thimm said she violated her responsibilities as a parent.
A jury in Kenosha only needed an hour yesterday to decide that a man was guilty of killing a woman and leaving her body in a cemetery. 53-year-old Javier Garcia will be sentenced April 21st after jurors convicted him on all five charges against him -- homicide, false imprisonment, sexual assault, aggravated battery, and theft. Prosecutors said Garcia was the last person seen with 26-year-old Lisa Mezera before her body was found by a police officer passing near a cemetery. That was in August of 2012 in the Kenosha County town of Somers. Mezera died from strangulation, and officials said she was also beaten in the head. The homicide conviction carries a life prison sentence, but the judge can order a release date for a possible supervised release.
Criminal charges may be sought against a Fond du Lac woman and her eight-year-old son, after the youngster allegedly abused two puppies last weekend. Assistant police chief Steve Klein said a six-week-old pup was biting playfully with some children, when the eight-year-old boy got angry and doused the pet with bleach -- also splashing some on the second dog. Klein said the first animal was then put in a plastic bag and tossed in a Dumpster. That dog and four others were taken into protective custody. Humane Society officials said two puppies were being treated for chemical burns to their eyes and faces, tongue ulcers, and respiratory problems. Klein says police expect to ask prosecutors to charge the youngster with juvenile cruelty to animals, and the mother with being a party to animal cruelty.
___________________An east central Wisconsin woman is due in court March 14th for allegedly causing a drunk driving crash that killed a teenager. 38-year-old Heather Schmidt of Ogdensburg is charged in Waupaca County with homicide by drunk driving, and homicide by driving with a prohibited blood alcohol level. Authorities said Schmidt was involved in a crash in July of 2012 in which 18-year-old Dylan Thorne died at the scene.
Wisconsin's attorney general takes issue with advice from the head of the U-S Justice Department on the issue of gay marriage. Eric Holder said yesterday that state justice agencies are not obligated to defend their states' laws against gay marriage, even if they believe they're discriminatory. Wisconsin's J-B Van Hollen says it's not Holder's job to give advice on defending state constitutions -- and it's not the states' roles to give Holder advice on how to do his job. Van Hollen made the remark in his role as the president of the National Association of Attorneys General. He said state A-G's are quote, "the ultimate defenders of our state constitutions." Holder made his remarks to the New York Times, as he tried to inject the Obama White House view on gay marriage into court cases being carried out in a number of states. Wisconsin's 2006 constitutional ban on gay marriage was challenged earlier this month, in a federal lawsuit that Van Hollen says he'll try to strike down. Holder is expected to discuss his stance in a speech today to the national A-G's group. Democratic attorneys general in several states have refused to defend their state gay marriage bans, while Republicans said they have an obligation to defend all state laws -- not just the ones they agree with. ______________________
A federal judge in Fargo North Dakota has sentenced a Waukesha man to 10 years in prison for possessing thousands-of-items of child pornography. 58-year-old Robert Evans must also register as a sex offender for life. A North Dakota agent found two computers in which Evans was sharing pornographic files in a peer-to-peer network. Investigators later found that he over 22-thousand photos of child porn, and almost 14-hundred videos. A jury in Fargo convicted Evans last fall on 14 federal charges of child porn possession.
Lawyers are expected to make their opening arguments today in the trial of a man accused of killing a Janesville area woman in 2012. Jury selection began yesterday in Rockford Illinois in the case of 24-year-old Kody Walsh. He's accused of shooting 36-year-old Lori Daniels of Afton to death, while the two were riding in an S-U-V on Interstate-90 near South Beloit. Walsh is also accused of trying to kill the S-U-V's driver. Authorities said Walsh fled after the shooting, and was picked up in Memphis Tennessee a week later after a high-speed police chase. His trial has been delayed several times after Walsh decided to represent himself. He later changed his mind, and he was given a public defender.