Crime and Court Roundup: Trial continues in sex assault case in Marathon County
The state will continue making its case today in the trial of a Wausau area gym coach accused of having sex with a 16-year-old girl. 39-year-old Taj Jefferson of Ringle is on trial in Marathon County on six felony charges of sexual assault while working with children. Jefferson allegedly had sex several times with a girl that he coached, both at his home and at his business, Gym-Sport Gymnastics in Weston. It took the entire morning to pick a jury yesterday. Attorneys made their opening statements in the afternoon - and then prosecutors put four witnesses on the stand. One was the mother of a former gymnastics student. She said she called authorities after the victim told her daughter that Jefferson had sex with her. Defense lawyer James Connell will try to convince jurors that the victim's stories are false and inconsistent. The trial is scheduled to continue through tomorrow.
Prosecutors in Milwaukee are considering charges in the death of a seven-day-old boy who was suffocated by her sleeping mother. The medical examiner's office has ruled the death an accident. Officials said the mother drank vodka and took pain pills on Sunday night - and she didn't remember putting the baby back to sleep after he was fed at 1:30 on Monday morning. The boy's father found the infant dead around four a-m. He was lodged between his mother and the back of a couch where the two were sleeping. The child was born on New Year's Eve. He's the first baby to die in Milwaukee in the New Year because of an unsafe sleep environment. Ten such deaths were reported in 2012.
A Merrill woman has pleaded innocent to nine felony charges in the deaths of two passengers in a drunk driving crash. 25-year-old Ashley Baumann was arraigned yesterday in Lincoln County Circuit Court. Her next appearance is scheduled April 11th, when a trial date could be set. Prosecutors said Baumann was driving at almost 100-miles-an-hour last June when her car left a street in Merrill and rolled over several times. Two of her passengers were killed - 31-year-old Misty Glisch and 33-year-old Jessica Hartwig. A 29-year-old passenger survived. Baumann is charged with causing deaths and injury by drunk driving, and reckless driving while causing injuries. She remains free on bond.
Milwaukee's mayor is co-hosting a summit on gun violence tomorrow in Minneapolis. Tom Barrett and Minneapolis Mayor R-T Rybak have invited police chiefs throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota to meet with federal law enforcement officials. They'll explore their communities' most effective ways to address crimes that involve guns. Barrett says he and Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn will discuss their efforts to map out the most dangerous neighborhoods for homicides and other major crimes - and develop rapid-response policing in those places. Barrett says the regional group also come up with ideas for curbing gun violence - and they could involve both changes in gun laws, and more effective prosecutions. But whatever is recommended, Barrett says it will be in line with the Second Amendment rights of individuals to keep-and-bear arms. The mayors said they planned the summit long before last year's mass shooting incidents in Brookfield, Oak Creek, Aurora Colorado, and Newtown Connecticut. Gun control advocates promise new laws in the wake of those tragedies.