STATE NEWS ROUNDUP: Racine man looking at life in prison after molestating six kids
A Racine man could spend the rest of his life in prison after he molested six kids, and made videos of the assaults with titles like "Monster Unleashed." 30-year-old Alexander Richter will be sentenced this afternoon. Prosecutors are recommending 80 years behind bars, thus making it all but impossible for Richter to ever go free. He pleaded no contest to four charges related to child sexual assault. Forty-five other counts were dropped in a plea deal. Those counts were filed just over a year ago. Authorities said Richter volunteered to baby-sit children of his fellow classmates at Gateway Technical College. He then had sex on camera with boys and girls age-5-to-12, who cried and begged him to stop. Police said they seized almost two dozen videos from Richter's apartment, along with almost 200 photos of child pornography.
The first round of interviews will begin today for those hoping to become the next president of the University of Wisconsin System. A search-and-screen committee will speak with applicants through video conferences. The U-W's David Giroux did not know how many would be interviewed, as the university looks for a replacement for outgoing president Kevin Reilly. The search panel will choose up to five finalists. Another selection committee will then pick the nominee, who will need approval from the U-W Board of Regents. Board president Michael Falbo has said he expects to release the finalists' names December 23rd. Final interviews are set for early next month. Giroux said the candidates have asked that their names not be made public -- but once the finalists are picked, state law requires those names to be released.
For the first time this year, home sales in Wisconsin's largest metro area are down from the same month the previous year. Just over 11-hundred existing houses were sold in November in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Waukesha, and Washington counties. That's eight-percent fewer than in the same month of 2012. Mike Ruzicka, who heads the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors, said the early cold weather might have been a factor. He also cited a smaller inventory, as listings for home sales were down eight-percent from the previous November. Still, Ruzicka said the Milwaukee area housing market had a solid year. That was confirmed by a separate report yesterday from M-T-D Marketing Services, which said building permits for new homes were up by almost six-and-a-half percent from last year in five Wisconsin metro areas. Almost 250 building permits for one-and-two-family houses were issued last month in the Milwaukee, Dane County, Fox Valley, Green Bay-Door County, and Racine-Kenosha areas. All five areas had increases in building permits.
Brown County sheriff's deputies continue to investigate animal abuse exposed in a video from an animal rights group at the Wiese Brothers farm near Greenleaf. District Attorney David Lasee said he has not been asked yet to consider criminal charges. State Senate Democrat Tim Carpenter of Milwaukee asked Lasee to prosecute the workers shown in the video made by the group Mercy for Animals. Carpenter joined dairy industry leaders in calling the video "reprehensible." The video was first made public on Tuesday, and it's gone viral on the Internet. That was after Nestle said it stopped using milk from the farm for some of the cheese in its DiGiorno pizza. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quoted several farmers as saying some of the practices shown in the video were not animal abuse -- and that Mercy for Animals could be using it as propaganda. The group encourages a vegan diet. Buffalo County dairy farmer John Rosenow said it's not rare for large farms to have disabled animals a couple times a month -- and while they need to be convinced to move, they must be handled carefully. The video showed workers dragging, kicking, and whipping downed cows. One was seen suspended in the air. Wiese Brothers said it fired two workers involved and re-assigned a third one. Mercy for Animals says it's seeking talks with Nestle about making its milk suppliers follow guidelines against animal cruelty. Matt Rice says his group has not heard anything back from the company but quote, "We are hopeful."
A Beaver Dam man picked the wrong place to commit a burglary. Dodge County authorities said the 45-year-old man entered the home of former Sheriff Todd Nehls (nails) in Fox Lake yesterday -- and Deputy Taylor Nehls, Todd's son, walked in when the burglary was happening. Sheriff Pat Ninmann said Taylor was off-duty at the time. He stopped by his father's house to get some ice-fishing equipment when he caught the burglar, who apparently had the former sheriff's loaded .380 handgun. Taylor Nehls held him at gunpoint until officers arrived and completed the arrest. Both Ninmann and the former sheriff commended Taylor for his actions. Both said the suspect could have easily shot the officer, but Taylor knew exactly what to do. He pushed the suspect against a wall, patted him down, and took the handgun away. Taylor had just finished his field training two weeks earlier. The former sheriff quoted the burglar as saying he made a big mistake, once he learned whose home he had broken into. He's now in jail awaiting charges.
A new survey shows that people are driving a lot less in Wisconsin's two largest cities. The U-S Public Interest Research Group said folks in the Milwaukee area reduced their driving by 20-percent from 2006-through-2011. That's the nation's second-largest decline -- and Madison had the third-biggest drop at 18-percent. Bruce Speight of the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group said there's a clear shift away from city driving. He said politicians should invest more in bicycle paths and public transit instead of new-and-expanded highways. Speight noted that Milwaukee and Madison have already added facilities for bikes, walkers, and mass transit -- and it probably contributed to the decrease in motor vehicle traffic. Experts say younger Americans generally prefer alternatives to driving -- and high gas prices could be a reason. New Orleans had the nation's biggest drop in driving, likely due to the city's re-building work after Hurricane Katrina.
It's not as cold today in northern Wisconsin, where 30-below wind-chills were common the past couple mornings. Rhinelander had the state's coldest wind-chill at minus-21 at seven o'clock. Antigo was at minus-20, and most other Badger State locations had wind-chills in the minus-teens. Unlike yesterday, the actual early morning temperatures did not drop below minus-10 in the north. However, it did get a little colder in southern Wisconsin. It was in the single digits this morning, after many parts of the south were in the teens early yesterday. Cloudy skies kept the mercury from plunging in the north. Some places had light snow. Neillsville had one-inch overnight. It's supposed to get a little warmer the next couple days, with highs in the single digits above zero in the northwest, to the 20's in the south. All of Wisconsin could see 20-degrees on Saturday, with a new chance of snow through the weekend.