CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Ten-year-old Milwaukee girl killed in a cross-fire was buried Tuesday
Ten-year-old Sierra Guyton was buried in Milwaukee yesterday, after a pastor demanded an end to the gun violence that killed her. Sierra was caught in cross-fire on May 21st, while she was playing with her sister at a school playground on Milwaukee's north side. Mourners filled the nearby Tabernacle Community Baptist Church, where Pastor Don Darius Butler said there was no way not to feel outrage -- and he vowed, "We will take this city back. Let not her living or dying be in vain." At the burial site, children released pink balloons into the air. Sierra was killed in gunfire between two men who were in a dispute with each other. Both face criminal charges.
Newly-released recordings raise questions about a prior case involving Steven Zelich. He's the former West Allis police officer suspected of killing two women and hiding their bodies in suitcases. Yesterday, West Allis Police released audio from an internal investigation in 2001, when a woman ran from an apartment wearing just her underwear. The two told conflicting stories of what happened. Officers found a condom in Zelich's kitchen garbage can -- but he claimed it wasn't his, and he was not sure how it got there. No criminal charges were ever filed in the incident. Zelich later agreed to resign from the West Allis police force after evidence showed that he stalked and harassed at least a half-dozen other women. The 52-year-old Zelich recently pleaded innocent to Walworth County charges of hiding a corpse. He allegedly killed Laura Simonson in Rochester Minnesota and Jenny Gamez in Kenosha County, before dumping their bodies in suitcases. They were found June 5th along a rural road near Lake Geneva. Homicide charges are still pending in the places where the women were found dead.
Milwaukee County authorities continue to look for a fourth suspect this morning, after a freeway gun battle in which three others were arrested. Sheriff David Clarke said people in a mini-van and a car shot at each other yesterday, before the mini-van spun into a ditch near Fox Point. It backed up traffic for miles on a busy northbound Interstate-43 -- and it took five hours to clear it all. Nobody was hurt. No other vehicles were struck by the gunfire. Clarke said no nearby homes were hit along the freeway, although residents said they could easily hear the gunfire.
Two former street officials in Lake Geneva are free on signature bonds, after appearing in court yesterday on embezzlement and misconduct charges. Ex-street superintendent Ronald Carstensen is accused of giving away 25-thousand dollars in city-owned road salt and sand to private companies. He also allegedly pocketed a sales tax refund that was supposed to go to the city. Ex-street foreman Donald Hoeft Junior allegedly failed to give the city revenues from oil-and-scrap-metal recycling, and sending employees on personal scrap-metal trips on taxpayers' time. The 55-year-old Carstensen is charged with eight counts that include embezzlement and misconduct in public office. The 54-year-old Hoeft faces six charges. Both are due back in Walworth County Circuit Court on September fifth, when a judge will decide if there's enough evidence to order trials on their felony charges.
A Wausau man will spend four years in prison for sharing child pornography with others. Twenty-six year old Tyler Vogel had pleaded no contest to three felony counts of possessing child porn. Seven similar charges were dropped in a plea deal. Marathon County Circuit Judge Greg Grau said Vogel was part of a network that exploited children, and he called it unacceptable. State and local officers raided Vogel's home last December, after learning that he traded explicit photos of underage girls. Vogel apologized and said he realized the seriousness of his actions. He must spend four years under extended supervision once his prison term ends. Vogel was previously convicted of sexual assault for incidents at a job in which he inappropriately touched teenage female co-workers.