CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Two Barron County officers justified for using deadly force during suspect chase
Two Barron County sheriff's officials have been cleared of wrongdoing, after they exchanged gunfire with a suspect. The sheriff's department said yesterday that Captain Ron Baures and Sergeant Tim Prytz were both justified in using deadly force. An internal shooting review panel made the findings. The officers were involved in a shootout with 32-year-old Jared Brendel of Barron at the end of a ten-mile chase on June third. The chase extended from Barron County into neighboring Dunn County -- where a squad car forced Brendel's vehicle into a ditch. Officials said the driver shot at the deputies, and the deputies returned fire. No one was struck. Deputy Jeff Wolfe, whose squad car was hit with bullets, was also cleared, and was allowed to return to work. Brendel had been wanted on several charges filed against him previously. He has a plea hearing scheduled June 23rd on seven counts that include eluding an officer, driving under the influence of a controlled substance, possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, and driving while his license was revoked. Online court records did not list any new charges connected with this month's chase.
A western Wisconsin man is back home, after he took part in a protest this week outside General Motors' headquarters in Detroit. Ken Rimer of Hammond says G-M needs to be held accountable for the death of his step-daughter, 18-year-old Natasha Weigel, in a 2006 traffic crash in Saint Croix County that also killed 15-year-old Amy Rademaker. It was among the crashes involving G-M's defective ignition switches. Rimer said it caused air bags not to deploy, which could have saved the two teens. He has filed a wrongful death suit against G-M in Minnesota, where the vehicle in the crash was bought. Rimer joined a small group of labor activists and others in a protest the day before G-M's annual meeting on Tuesday. G-M has hired a lawyer to try and arrange settlements with relatives of those killed. But C-N-N says the automaker's tally of 13 deaths only counts those in the front seats, from frontal-impact crashes in which airbags did not deploy. Rimer's step-daughter was in back during her crash. When asked why back-seat passengers are not counted, C-E-O Mary Barra said her company is trying to make sure there's appropriate compensation for everyone directly impacted.
It's been a week since the dead bodies of two women surfaced in a pair of suitcases found along a roadside near Lake Geneva. And authorities are still not saying much more, as they continue to look for answers to what happened. The F-B-I confirms that it's involved, but a supervisory agent in Milwaukee is not saying how. Meanwhile, the Journal Sentinel says forensic evidence is starting to be gathered. At last word, Geneva town police in Walworth County were still trying to determine the identities of the two women. The state Justice Department is also involved. The suitcases were discovered by a passing motorist, and a road crew tossed the suitcases to the side of North Como Road while cutting grass. Police officers later opened the bags and found the bodies.
It's not easy working for a court of law in Wisconsin these days. Budget cuts are said to be threatening the jobs of at least some support staffers. And this week, people upset that they cannot get same-sex marriage licenses are calling the Portage County Clerk of Courts' office instead of the county clerk. Portage is among the minority of counties waiting for further legal guidance before letting gay couples get married. County clerks have been handling the matter. Clerks-of-courts are separate entities -- and the court clerk in Stevens Point, Patricia Baker, says angry callers are blaming the wrong people. She tells W-S-A-U Radio that one of neighbors sent her an e-mail, saying quote, "Shame on me for not allowing same-sex marriages." Meanwhile, some court staffers in Eau Claire County are concerned about their continued employment. W-Q-O-W T-V in Eau Claire says the county is considering a resolution protesting a planned statewide budget cut of 12-million dollars for the court system next year. Judge William Gabler tells the station that the clerk-of-courts' office is already closing early, so employees can do processing and filing work they can't do during the business day when they're dealing with the public.
Authorities in north central Wisconsin continue to investigate the death of a 24-year-old Appleton man who was pulled from a lake yesterday. Rescuers were called Tuesday evening to Deep Woods Lake near Elcho in Langlade County. Divers could not find the apparent drowning victim before it got dark -- so they returned yesterday and found the man's body around 9 a-m. The exact cause of death was not immediately determined.
A million-dollar bond has been set for a Jefferson County man accused of killing the mother of his child. Thirty-two year old Michael Henderson of Waterloo made an initial court appearance yesterday, in a video feed from his jail cell. He's charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the shooting death of 28-year-old Heather Stewart of Clyman. Henderson is due back in court June 25th, when a judge will decide if there's enough evidence to order a trial. According to prosecutors, the two traded text messages a day before authorities found her body in her car last month. The vehicle was parked in the lot of former grocery store in Watertown. Investigators said Stewart was shot in the head, and Henderson's baseball cap was found near her body. Media reports said the two had a daughter together.