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STATE CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Sturtevant's president placed on probation for stalking his ex-girlfriend

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The village president in Sturtevant will spend a year-and-a-half on probation for stalking his ex-girlfriend for over a year. 53-year-old Steven Jansen was sentenced yesterday on reduced charges which eliminated the possibility of going to a state prison. A felony stalking charge was dropped in a plea deal, and he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and making threats in a computer message. Jansen was fined a-thousand dollars. Prosecutors said he broke up with his girlfriend in January of 2011 but kept sending text messages and e-mails to her for months – and he left messages at her son’s grave. Jansen told a judge he’s done a lot of soul-searching since he was first charged 20 months ago, and he’s sorry for the trauma he caused to his ex-girlfriend.

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The wheels of justice will start turning again in Milwaukee County today. Court hearings will be held for the first time since an electrical fire last Saturday closed both the courthouse and the adjacent Safety Building in downtown Milwaukee. Jurors are still being told to stay home. Clean-up crews have installed new carpets – and they cleaned or replaced ceiling panels and hard surfaces throughout the Safety Building. A similar cleanup continues in the courthouse, which is three times as big with a million square feet. County Executive Chris Abele says the courthouse will not open any sooner than next Monday. Officials said the main concern was removing carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide fumes fueled by the aftermath from Saturday’s blaze, which occurred in an electric sub-station in the courthouse basement. Insurance will pay for a new sub-station, with the exception of a 75-thousand-dollar deductible. It’s not still known what the final cost will be for the cleanup and repair work throughout the building. A consultant’s report from February uncovered numerous problems with electrical-and-mechanical facilities. Abele says the report will be reviewed.

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The State Supreme Court is expected to decide today whether a Milwaukee man should have been allowed to withdraw his guilty pleas to shooting two police officers in 2009. Julius Burton is serving 80 years in prison for wounding officers Bryan Norberg and Graham Kunisch. The 22-year-old Burton said a former attorney and a circuit judge failed to tell him that he could have pleaded insanity, and still admitted guilt to the shootings. He then wanted to withdraw his straight guilty pleas to a pair of attempted homicide charges. The First District Appellate Court wouldn’t let him do it, saying Burton failed to prove that his counsel was ineffective. The judges also said the circuit court was not obligated to tell Burton about all of his plea options. The two officers were watching students as they left a high school, when they questioned Burton about riding his bicycle illegally on a sidewalk. Burton shot the officers in the face at close range. They returned to duty about a year later.

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A Milwaukee researcher is expected to plead guilty to a reduced charge today, after he was accused of stealing a potential cancer-fighting chemical. Authorities said Hua Jun Zhao stole three vials of the compound, plus academic research at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Officials said he was planning to introduce both the chemical and the research as his own in China. The 42-year-old Zhao had earlier pleaded innocent to a federal indictment for tampering with a private computer and lying to a federal agent. He struck a plea deal in which he’ll plead guilty to accessing a computer without authorization. The thefts occurred in February, when Zhao did research work at the Medical College. Prosecutors said he wanted to take the materials to China, where he’s listed as an assistant professor at Zhejiang University. 

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An assisted living center in Appleton is being sued for negligence in the death of an 85-year-old resident. Five children of Delores Wiersum filed suit yesterday in Winnebago County. Wiersum died from exposure early on January 17th, after she walked out of The Heritage living facility with temperatures in the teens. Plaintiff Tom Wiersum tells WLUK TV in Green Bay that the family hopes to learn more about the circumstances which led the victim to leave the building. The suit does not list a specific amount sought for pain-and-suffering. Theda-Care of Neenah owns The Heritage. It did not comment on the suit, but it issued a statement expressing concern for the family – and the company works hard to protect residents’ safety. Theda-Care has 45 days to file a legal response to the lawsuit. WLUK said the state Health Services Department cited The Heritage in April for not following proper procedures in protecting Wiersum. Theda-Care later responded, saying it corrected the issues.

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