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Saturday State News Briefs: Judge rules case agains four Milwaukee policemen can proceed

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Saturday State News Briefs: Judge rules case agains four Milwaukee policemen can proceed
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

MILWAUKEE - A Milwaukee County judge has ruled prosecutors have enough evidence for the case against four Milwaukee police officers to proceed.

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Judge Jeffrey Wagner head about three hours of testimony yesterday from a detective who recounting secret testimony given by nine alleged victims. The cops are accused of conducting illegal strip searches of people in custody. The action taken yesterday involved Judge Wagner denying motions by attorneys for the four police officers to dismiss the complaint. They argued what their clients are accused of didn't make them legally liable. The officers are on paid leave. Their arraignment is set for November 15th.

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A Sheboygan teenager has been found competent to stand trial in the September death of his great-grandmother. Next is a hearing in January to determine if the case will be moved to juvenile court. The judge made his ruling yesterday, basing it on a court-ordered mental health evaluation. The 13 year old boy and a friend of the same age are charged with first-degree intentional homicide. They are accused of beating 78 year old Barbara Olson to death in her home in Sheboygan Falls last September. They allegedly used a hammer and a hatchet. Investigators say they then stole money to buy marijuana and pizza.

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A 26 year old Milwaukee man is sentenced to a decade behind bars for beating his girlfriend's children and putting one of them in a clothes dryer. Nicholas James Fuchs was sentenced yesterday. He has admitted abusing the children who were then four and five years old. He says it happened when he was living at her apartment in Oak Creek last year. The children's mother says she overheard her daughter threatening to put her brother in the dryer. When the mother asked them about the threat, the children said it was something "mean Nick" had done to the girl in the past. Fuchs apparently broke the girl's arm last August and attacked the boy as well.

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A Wisconsin man will get a life sentence for fatally shooting his mother in order to collect on her life insurance policy. Thirty-five year old Randal Rosenthal was convicted by a jury in Appleton last night on a charge of first-degree intentional homicide. Rosenthal had told investigators his mother was fine when he last saw her after they had gone fishing. Prosecutors say he killed 52 year old Kathleen Remter to collect on her $586,000 life insurance policy. Remter was found dead in the Fox River in July of last year. She had been shot in the back of the head.

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Brown Deer will hire an independent law enforcement instructor to review the police department's handling of previous incidents involving Brookfield spa murderer Radcliffe Haughton. Village Manager Russell Van Gompel said this afternoon that Robert Willis will review all the contacts that Brown Deer Police had with Haughton and his estranged wife Zina before the October 21st shootings. Haughton killed Zina and two others, and wounded four other women before killing himself. Since then, Brown Deer Police have been under fire for not arresting Haughton during a number of domestic incidents involving the couple over the past 11 years at their home. Today, Van Gompel said the village will have Willis conduct an "unbiased evaluation of the facts and law enforcement standards relevant" to the police department's contacts with the Haughtons. A dozen state lawmakers this week accused Brown Deer's police chief of not following the state's mandatory arrest law for domestic violence cases on at least two occasions. And they demanded a state investigation. The lawmakers who represent Brown Deer called the accusation a "knee jerk reaction" - but they do favor a review.

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Her doctors at UW Hospital say Sharon Wand has defied the odds and will likely survive. The 32 year old Argyle woman was burned over 65 percent of her body when her home went up in flames September 7th. At the time, trauma surgeon Dr. Lee Faucher told her family Wand had only about a 10 percent chance of survival. After four surgeries, the doctor says Wand is taking an active part in her own therapy and recovery and no longer needs a ventilator. Three of her children and an unborn baby were killed, but her two year old daughter got out safely. Wand's husband, 32 year old Armin Wand the Third, and her brother-in-law, 18 year old Jeremy Wand, face charges of murder, attempted murder and arson. Investigators say they set the fire to collect life insurance money.

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A judge refused to drop embezzlement charges against a former aide to Governor Scott Walker when he was the Milwaukee County executive. Tim Russell's attorney said the case should be dropped due to an issue with a previous attorney - but the request was denied. Prosecutor Bruce Landgraf said today was Russell's final chance to accept a plea deal from his office. That didn't materialize, so Russell's December third trial date was re-affirmed. Russell is accused of taking 21-thousand-dollars from an annual Milwaukee County event which honors veterans. He also allegedly took contributions from two county supervisor candidates he was managing. Russell was a former deputy chief-of-staff to Walker. He's among five ex-Walker aides charged as part of a John Doe investigation that's continuing. Two of those defendants were convicted after striking plea deals - but they still await sentencing.

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A jury in Las Vegas has ordered the Green Bay Catholic Diocese to pay a half-million dollars to a sex abuse victim. The jury believed the man, when he said the diocese knew that the Reverend John Patrick Feeney was a child molester when they transferred him to Vegas - but they never told parishioners there, and it allowed Feeney to molest again. The man's lawyer, Jeff Anderson, said the victim reported the sexual assault when he was a youngster, but nobody believed him. Anderson said the man came forward again after he heard about others were assaulted by Feeney, who has since been defrocked. Feeney was criminally convicted in 2004 of molesting Todd and Troy Merryfield at a Fox Valley Catholic church, and he served eight years of a 15-year sentence. The Merryfields won $700,000 earlier this year, after a jury agreed that the church committed fraud in that molestation case. But a judge threw out the award after the church dug up proof that a juror was biased. The case is headed toward another trial next year.

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A Milwaukee man is due back in court November 14th, for allegedly breaking into two homes in Washington County and stealing valuables that included jewelry. 47-year-old Jeffrey Benson waived the state's time limit for a preliminary hearing on two felony burglary charges. According to authorities, Benson stole over 12-thousand dollars' worth of jewelry on October 23rd - and he later sold it to a shop in West Allis which only paid him 12-hundred dollars, or 10-percent of the estimated value. Sheriff's officials quoted Benson as saying he found the jewelry in a bag in Milwaukee while he was searching for scrap metal.

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Milwaukee aldermen have approved a one and a half billion dollar budget for Fiscal Year 2013. The spending plan includes a tax levy slightly less than the one proposed by Mayor Tom Barrett. The council approved several service fee increases for things like solid waste, storm-water, sewerage and snow and ice removal. Mayor Barrett said he was impressed by the final budget approved on yesterday's 14-1 vote. Alderman Michael Murphy, who is chairman of the Finance and Personnel Committee, called the plan difficult, but fiscally conservative. The mayor and other city officials are already warning that Milwaukee will have to eliminate 400 to 600 payroll positions over the next four years. The current budget also includes three mandatory furlough days on May 24th, July 5th and August 30th.

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Wisconsin traffic deaths fell along with the temperatures in October. Preliminary figures from the state DOT show that 51 people died in highway crashes throughout the state last month. That's 30 less than in September, four fewer than a year ago, and two less than the average for the past five Octobers. But for 2012 as a whole, traffic deaths are still running almost 15-percent higher than the previous year. 531 people died in Wisconsin crashes from January through October, 69 more than in the same period of 2011. That includes 100 motorcycle deaths caused in part by a shorter winter and a warmer fall.

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Governor Scott Walker said today that over 700 Wisconsin technicians and support staffers are helping people in the Eastern U.S. recover from Superstorm Sandy. They include rescuers, utility workers, and businesses sending emergency generators and a host of relief supplies. The Wisconsin Public Service utility is the latest to send personnel out East. Twenty-five technicians left this morning for Connecticut. The governor also said he would increase weight limits for trucks carrying relief supplies and materials to the East Coast. He said businesses should contact the DOT to get the necessary oversize and overweight permits. Also, Wisconsin Emergency Management said first responders should not go to the storm damage area by themselves, without telling anyone. Officials say Wisconsin is part of a the national Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which coordinates and assigns personnel for response and recovery efforts.

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Wisconsin received some great news today as it tries to recover from the Drought-of-2012. For the first time in months, the U.S. Drought Monitor says no part of the Badger State is in an extreme drought. And just under 25-percent of the state's land area is in a severe drought, down from 35-percent a week ago. But Wisconsin is still not out of the woods yet. The Drought Monitor says 91-percent of the state's land area is abnormally dry or worse - and that's down by about four-and-a-half percent from last week. The most severe conditions are in west central and far southern Wisconsin. Drought conditions no longer exist in all or parts of 11 eastern counties. Green Bay has fully recovered, along with Appleton, Oshkosh, Fond du Lac, Manitowoc, Sheboygan, and Door County. A wet October helped. The National Weather Service said Green Bay was tied for the fourth-wettest October on record, with just under five-inches of rain during the month. The other side of the state also had above-normal rainfall. La Crosse had three-and-a-third inches of rain - almost one-point-two inches more than the norm. It's been dry this week in most of Wisconsin. And forecasters say it will stay dry at least until early Saturday, when there's a slight chance of rain or snow in southern and western Wisconsin. Nationally, 60-percent of the 48 mainland states are still in some form of drought. But the rains from Superstorm Sandy helped drop the total by two-percent over the last week.

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Two teenagers and two Waukesha County deputies were injured Thursday, when the teens' vehicle drove into a freeway median in Brookfield and hit a parked sheriff's car. The impact caused the teens' vehicle to start on fire. It happened around 2:45 a.m. on Interstate-94. Rescuers pulled an 18-year-old Saint Francis man and a 17-year-old West Allis boy from the burning wreckage. The 18-year-old was the driver. He was taken to a Waukesha hospital for treatment of minor injuries. The State Patrol suspects him of driving while drunk. The 17-year-old was critically hurt, and was flown to Milwaukee's Froedtert Hospital. Both deputies suffered back-and-facial injuries. They were treated and released from Froedtert.

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The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has developed a new app for Android phones which will tell hunters when it is legal to shoot a gun, based on their location. The 99-cent app was tested with game wardens before it was released. It isn't available for iPhones yet. State officials say it uses GPS to determine where the user is, then matches that will the opening and closing times for the various hunting seasons in that location. The downloadable app can also show information on other locations and future hunting seasons.

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A UW-Madison graduate who went to become an award-winning Abraham Lincoln scholar has died. An historian confirmed today that 100-year-old Richard Nelson Current died last Friday in Boston. Current wrote a number of books about Lincoln, including "The Lincoln That Nobody Knew" and "Lincoln the President" - which won the Bancroft Prize in 1956. He also wrote about Wisconsin, the place where he earned his doctorate degree. During his '90's, he translated essays from the Norwegian author Knut Hamsun. The Lincoln Forum created an achievement award in Current's name in 1995. Doris Kearns Goodwin has been among the winners.

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