CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Marshfield woman getting jail-and-probation for transporting marijuana from Colorado
MARSHFIELD -- A Marshfield woman is getting jail-and-probation time for transporting marijuana from Colorado -- plus chocolate bars laced with the main ingredient in pot. 23-year-old Alyssa Clapper has pleaded guilty to three Wood County charges of maintaining a drug trafficking place, plus one count of delivering marijuana. Three other counts were dropped in a plea deal. She was given 120 days in jail with work release privileges, plus three years of probation. Another defendant, 26-year-old Aaron Kuentjes of Auburndale, has a similar plea hearing set for May 27th. He's currently charged with nine drug-related and bail jumping counts. Kuentjes and Clapper were both arrested last November in separate traffic stops west of Marshfield. At the time, police lieutenant Rick Gramza -- who was named this week as Marshfield's next police chief -- said the legalization of marijuana in Colorado could result in people selling pot from there in states like Wisconsin.
A Milwaukee judge will wait a while to decide whether a 77-year-old convicted killer should be held liable for a neighbor's death without holding a trial. The mother of 13-year-old Darius Simmons says she wants to make sure that John Spooner never profits from a story he might write about the case. She has asked Circuit Judge Kevin Martens to issue a summary judgment which would make Spooner liable now. Martens was supposed to hear testimony on the request yesterday, but he delayed the proceeding after Spooner's lawyer wanted more time to review it. The defense lawyer still says there are questions about Spooner's sanity, even though a jury ruled that he was not insane when he killed Simmons.
A northwest Wisconsin man will spend six-and-a-half years in prison for killing a 15-year-old boy in a high-speed S-U-V crash. Twenty-three-year-old Wade Richey of Spooner must also spend just over six years under extended supervision once he gets out. Authorities said Richey drove over 90-miles-an-hour and slid around curves in Barron County in 2012, knowing he had bad brakes. It resulted in a crash that killed 15-year-old Triston Sager, who was riding in the cargo portion of Richey's S-U-V. He was found guilty of vehicular homicide while using controlled substances, and causing great bodily harm by reckless driving. During his supervision, Richey was told to spend at least 40 hours a year speaking to high school students and impact groups, and discourage them from repeating his behavior.
A shooting death by a police officer near Milwaukee's City Hall has the mayor defending the downtown's safety, and investigators using a new state law for the first time. Police Chief Ed Flynn said a 38-year-old officer was sent to Red Arrow Park around 3:30 yesterday afternoon to check out a call about a suspect. He said the officer started patting the man down when they got into a scuffle. Flynn said the suspect took the officer's baton and started beating him in the head -- and the officer pulled his weapon and fired up to ten shots. Mayor Tom Barrett said he heard at least five shots from his City Hall office. It shook up numerous bystanders and workers in the area, as 30 officers converged in response. A nearby matinee had just ended, and several theater-goers could not get to their cars because they were cordoned off in the crime scene. The suspect died there with the officer's baton under his body. The officer -- a 13-year Milwaukee police veteran -- was treated at a hospital and later released. Barrett said it would be the first test of a new state law signed a week ago, that requires outside investigators to look into the deaths of suspects in police custody. Until now, Milwaukee's internal affairs division handled those probes. The new law requires at least two officers from another agency to investigate -- and if charges are not filed, the investigative reports must be made public. The mayor also said the shooting was an isolated incident, and downtown Milwaukee remains extremely safe.
A central Wisconsin woman is in jail for stealing a dementia patient's credit card at a nursing home where she used to work. 34-year-old Crystal Schillinger of Spencer had pleaded guilty to Wood County charges of felony theft and identity theft. She was ordered to pay nearly three-thousand dollars in restitution, plus almost 800-dollars in fines and court costs. Her jail term runs for 30 days with work release privileges. Schillinger was also given four years of probation. Prosecutors said she took the dementia patient's credit card last July to pay utility and veterinary bills. Schillinger was employed at the facility until late October.
This winter's propane heating fuel shortage will go under the microscope on Capitol Hill today. A U-S Senate committee will examine the reasons for the shortage, and how to avoid the problem in the future. Drastic price hikes in January and February left a number of rural Wisconsin residents in the cold, and many customers had their fuel contracts broken. Supplies were already smaller after farmers used more propane than usual to dry their crops last fall -- and the extreme Wisconsin cold made the shortages a lot worse. Senate Democrat Al Franken of Minnesota said one possible solution is beef up storages of propane. That idea is expected to be discussed during today's hearing -- along with the supplies and delivery infrastructure for propane.
A federal judge said no yesterday to dropping a lawsuit against Wisconsin's ban on gay marriage. But the state's revenue secretary is no longer a defendant, and neither are two local prosecutors. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in February on behalf of four same-sex couples. They want to throw out the state's 2006 constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions, plus a state law which makes it a crime for Wisconsin same-sex couples to get married elsewhere. State Attorney General J-B Van Hollen said the lawsuit should be dropped because the allegations are not specific enough. Federal Judge Barbara Crabb of Madison didn't buy that, and she allowed the suit to proceed. She did drop Revenue Secretary Rick Chandler from the lawsuit. Crabb said he was not directly responsible for deciding the policies which deny certain tax benefits to same-sex couples. The judge also said the district attorneys of Milwaukee and Eau Claire counties should no longer be defendants. That's because they agreed not to prosecute same-sex plaintiffs who live in their counties but had weddings out-of-state.
State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser still owes about 200-thousand dollars from his extremely-close re-election battle three years ago. Prosser defeated JoAnne Kloppenburg by just seven-thousand votes after the first statewide recount in over 20 years. It was a relatively sleepy campaign until Prosser's opponents turned it into a referendum on Republican Governor Scott Walker's law that took collective bargaining away from most public employee unions in Wisconsin. Prosser's campaign spent 700-thousand dollars, and public financing and outside special-interest money also poured into the race. Prosser is a former G-O-P state Assembly speaker, and former Governor Tommy Thompson -- who appointed Prosser to the bench -- recently sent out an appeal to donors to repay what he called a "debt of gratitude" to the justice. According to the A-P, most of Prosser's debt is to a Milwaukee law firm which provided legal services for the election and the recount. His campaign director at the time, Brian Nemoir, says retiring debt has been challenged by a "near-constant election cycle" since 2011 -- which included recall efforts against Walker and several senators.
A toddler thrown from a car in a crash near Green Bay was either not restrained at all -- or was not properly buckled in. Bellevue Police said it was a miracle that the 22-month-old boy survived, because most young children die in that situation. The crash happened last Sunday afternoon on a ramp to a westbound expressway on Highway 172. The driver, 23-year-old Nicholas Verhaagh of Green Bay, apparently rolled the car several times and died after being ejected. Brown County sheriff's captain Randy Schultz said high speed and a lack of proper restraints were both factors. The boy was treated at a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, and was returned to his mother. Schultz said the car had two child safety seats, and neither was fastened properly. That's not unusual. The Center for Childhood Safety in Green Bay said 73-percent of car seats are not installed correctly.
A northwest Wisconsin man is due back in court next Tuesday, for allegedly causing numerous injuries to his girlfriend's two-year-old son in a motel room in Eau Claire. 21-year-old Dustin Riley of Webster was put under a five-thousand-dollar cash bond this week. Eau Claire Police were called to America's Best Value Inn on Tuesday. Officers said they found the toddler with bruises and red marks on his face, head, and other parts of his body. Authorities said marijuana was also found in the room. Riley is charged with felony child abuse and reckless endangerment, and misdemeanor counts of possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He also has a plea hearing set for June second on an unrelated disorderly conduct charge in Barron County.