CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Two 12-year-old girls charged with attempted homicide
Two 12-year-old Waukesha girls are in jail under half-million-dollar bonds, after they were charged as adults yesterday in the stabbing of a 12-year-old classmate. Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier are both charged with attempted homicide, after police said they stabbed the victim 19 times. She was hospitalized in stable condition at last word. The victim was found lying on a sidewalk last Saturday with wounds to her torso, legs, and arms. A sheriff's deputy found the alleged attackers a few hours later as they walked along Interstate-94. A knife with a five-inch blade was found in Weier's backpack. According to prosecutors, the girls said they planned for months to kill their middle school classmate when they got together at Geyser's house for a sleepover on her birthday. Officials said the defendants wanted to pay homage to the fictional character "Slender Man," the leader of a hierarchy on a Web site Creepypasta Wiki, which is devoted to horror stories. Defense lawyers say they'll try to move both girls into juvenile court, where they could face delinquency proceedings in anonymity. If convicted as adults, their current charges would net them up to 65 years in prison each.
An armed fugitive who's been the subject of a manhunt in northwest Wisconsin was identified today as 32-year-old Jared Brendel of Barron. He's wanted for fleeing police, and illegally possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. Barron County sheriff's officials said they tried stopping Brendel last Friday night near Dallas -- and he led officers on a chase for about 15 minutes before the vehicle crashed in a ditch. He fled on foot, and officers could not find him. Last evening, deputies were told that Brendel was seen with a gun outside a house near Dallas. A truck he was driving was later found stuck in a field. SWAT teams and a State Patrol aircraft then joined area sheriff's officers on a manhunt in what officials called rough, swampy terrain. Brendel was still at large at last word.
A prisoner is back in custody in Racine, after being on the lam for about 11 hours. Police said 36-year-old Jesus Arroyo was handcuffed to a belly-chain, when he managed to run from a state corrections' agent around one yesterday afternoon. The agent was escorting him to the Racine County Jail's entrance. Around midnight, police said they were tipped off about a suspicious person elsewhere in the city. The subject fled when officers got there, but he was captured a short time later. He was jailed for violating a previous probation. Police said he has previous convictions for burglary, reckless injury, possessing marijuana with the intent to deliver it, and escape.
The only Republican who's running for Wisconsin attorney general has unveiled a new plan to fight heroin abuse if he's elected. Waukesha County prosecutor Brad Schimel says the state is falling behind in addressing the matter, in spite of an aggressive campaign last year by outgoing Attorney General J-B Van Hollen. Schimel proposes extra training for local law enforcement and prosecutors on heroin abuse. He also wants to form new partnerships that involve police, parents, teachers, and doctors -- and create a coalition with Wisconsin's neighboring states to share resources and solutions. State Assembly Republican John Nygren of Marinette, who led the charge to pass six heroin-related bills in the Legislature this spring, joined Schimel as he unveiled his plans in Green Bay and Madison. All four candidates to replace Van Hollen have said that heroin is the state's Number-One law enforcement problem. Schimel filed his nomination papers for attorney general before yesterday's deadline, as did Democrats Susan Happ, Jon Richards, and Ismael Ozanne. The Democrats will square off in an August 12th primary.
A central Wisconsin man is scheduled to go on trial in early September for allegedly supplying the heroin that killed a man in Marathon County. Thirty-one year old Lucas Zuehlke of Coloma is charged with five felonies in the death of 30-year-old Thomas Knickerbocker in March of last year. A three-day trial in Zuehlke's case is set to begin September second in Wausau. Police said Zuehlke sold 100-dollars of heroin to his girlfriend, who then reportedly gave the drug to Knickerbocker. He was later found dead by his young daughter. The girlfriend, 34-yera-old Nycole Creed of Wausau, has a status conference set for August 19th on charges of delivering heroin and felony bail jumping.
After two years of delays, a trial is finally scheduled to begin this morning for a central Wisconsin man accused of killing his girlfriend's two-year-old son. Twenty-eight year old Reymundo Perez is charged in Portage County with reckless homicide and felony child abuse in the death of Felix Espinosa-Villa. Authorities said Perez threw the toddler to the ground twice, because he would not stop crying. The youngster died two days later. The incident was reported in October of 2011 at the mobile home of Perez' girlfriend in Bancroft. The trial has been delayed five times due to scheduling conflicts in getting expert witnesses to testify. At a hearing last December, prosecutor Veronica Isherwood said the child's mother is concerned, because the case has been pending longer than her son was alive. Perez has been in jail since his arrest. He was moved to the Waupaca County Jail in January, after being at the Lincoln County Jail in Merrill. His trial is scheduled to last for eight days, running through June 12th in Stevens Point.
Making plea deals does not mean that prosecutors are soft on crime. So says Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm. He wrote a five-page response to Sheriff David Clarke, who recently said the D-A should consider banning plea bargains for major crimes and sending all such offenders to prison. Chisholm said that if he took all murder cases to trial, his staff would miss deadlines for submitting evidence and legal briefs -- thus letting killers go free. The D-A also said it would be a travesty to have trials for all sexual assaults, without considering the effects on victims and their families. Clarke said Milwaukee County has a "revolving door" justice system that fosters the kind of violence in which a 10-year-old girl was shot in crossfire while on a school playground last month. The same shooting spurred criticism of Chisholm from state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. He accused the D-A of bargaining down serious crimes while spending too much with John Doe investigations into Vos' fellow Republicans. Chisholm called the speaker's claim "nonsense," while the D-A had much stronger criticism for Sheriff Clarke Chisholm said Clarke spends too much time hosting talk radio shows, and has deputies watching guards check courthouse visitors instead of catching criminals in the streets.
Oshkosh Police continue to investigate the death of a 22-year-old woman from an apparent heroin overdose. A 22-year-old Oshkosh man was arrested on Saturday. He's being held for violating a previous probation, while prosecutors consider new charges. The victim's mother tried to contact her on Friday night -- and when she couldn't, police were called and officers found the body in her bedroom.
A federal appeals court has questioned a claim by the Milwaukee Archdiocese that it needs 55-million dollars to maintain church cemeteries. A three-judge panel held a hearing yesterday in Chicago on an effort by the Catholic Archdiocese to keep its cemetery trust fund away from creditors in the church's bankruptcy case. Most of those creditors are victims of sex abuse by former priests in the ten-county Milwaukee Archdiocese. Federal Judge Rudolph Randa had previously ruled that the cemetery funds were off limits. Victims' attorneys told the appellate panel that Randa should not have ruled on the matter because he has relatives buried in one of the Catholic cemeteries. Trust fund attorney Brady Williamson said Randa's family bought the burial plots almost 40 years ago, and Randa has not had any involvement in the matter since then. Still, Judge Ann Claire Williams said she found the issue "troubling," and Randa should have made his involvement known before his ruling. Judge Robert Dow questioned whether the church needs all 55-million in the cemetery fund -- and whether some could be diverted to other purposes. It's not known when the appellate court will make its ruling.