STATE NEWS ROUNDUP: Summer off to a stormy start throughout state
Northern Wisconsin has been pounded by a series of heavy rain-storms over the last day. One-point-eight-inches fell near Lac du Flambeau and one-point-four inches fell near Presque Isle, both in Vilas County. The National Weather Service issued small-stream flood advisories until nine this morning for all-or-parts of Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, Iron, Sawyer, Price, and Washburn counties. A severe thunderstorm warning was posted until 5:15 in Dunn and Barron counties and parts of Saint Croix and Polk counties. New Richmond had 51-mile-an-hour winds around 4:15 this morning. Grantsburg got tennis-ball-sized hail last evening. Some trees and power lines went down near Hawkins in Rusk County. A low pressure system is making its presence known in the Badger State, after a warm front pushed the mercury in the 80’s yesterday. Rain and possible thunderstorms are in the statewide forecast for today, with the warm temperatures to continue. A chance of rain is possible through the weekend, and into next week.
Two Sheboygan teens convicted of robbing-and-killing one of their elderly relatives will be sentenced separately in mid-August. 14-year-old Nathan Paape will learn his fate on August 13th, after a jury found him guilty yesterday of first-degree intentional homicide. 14-year-old Antonio Barbeau is scheduled to be sentenced August 12th, after he struck a plea deal with prosecutors last week on a homicide conviction. Both will get life prison terms – but because of their ages, they must be eligible for a supervised release after at least 20 years. Barbeau’s plea deal calls for a possible release after 35 years. The judge will make the final decision in both cases. Paape’s jury deliberated two hours before convicting him. His lawyer claimed that Paape had almost nothing to do with the plot to kill-and-rob Barbeau’s 78-year-old great-grandmother Barbara Olson last September at her Sheboygan Falls home. District Attorney Joe DeCecco said Paape was quote, “up to his neck in this.” The D-A told jurors that Olson was killed over the 150-dollars the teens found in the house when they ransacked it. Barbeau testified that the two went to the house to get money, and would use forced if they had to. Olsen was battered at least 27 times with a hammer and a hatchet.
Wisconsin has recorded its first case of the West Nile virus for this year. A dead crow found in Washington County has tested positive for the mosquito-borne illness. West Nile infects birds, horses, and humans. Health officials say the first bird death should encourage people to take precautions against mosquito bites. Record human cases of West Nile occurred last year throughout the nation’s mid-section. Fifty-seven people in Wisconsin came down with the infection – nine more than the previous high of 48 in 2002, when the disease was first reported. Four Wisconsinites died from West Nile a year ago – along with 32 birds and one horse.
Kohl’s Department Stores says it will lay off 67 Milwaukee employees in its sales auditing and accounts-payable department. The company decided to have a third-party vendor handle those functions. Kohl’s says the layoffs will start in December, and run in phases through next February. Kohl’s, which is based in Menomonee Falls, said the workers would get 60 days’ notice – and they’ll be offered severance packages that include outplacement services.
A Wauwatosa man has been freed, after prosecutors said they needed more time to investigate his alleged involvement in last Sunday’s Potawatomi Casino shooting. The Milwaukee County district attorney’s office was ready to have 27-year-old Gregory Harmon released on Wednesday – but he was still being held on a prior warrant for an unrelated theft case. He was wanted since May of last year for allegedly borrowing a girlfriend’s car and not returning it. Harmon appeared in court on that charge this week, and was freed on a signature bond. On Wednesday, a court commissioner will decide if there’s enough evidence to try him for theft. The D-A’s office says it’s not sure when it could decide on charges in the casino shooting. Witnesses said Harmon and another man were fighting on the main gaming floor early at Potawatomi last Sunday, when he pulled out a gun and shot a female bystander in the leg.
A mother from Taylor County wanted to spare her four youngest kids from being hurt by her pending divorce – so she allegedly tried to asphyxiate them so the five could quote, “be in Heaven” together. That’s what prosecutors said in a criminal complaint filed yesterday against 37-year-old Heidi Mann of Rib Lake. Officials said she put the kids in an S-U-V, and said they were going bowling – but instead, she let the engine run in a closed garage for a couple hours, and the kids survived carbon monoxide poisoning. Authorities said she tried to carry out plans to kill herself and the youngsters, but Mann was not arrested until late last week because sheriff’s investigators had just learned about the incident. The oldest child turns 12 today. The others are 8, 6, and 3. Officials say they’re okay, and are being cared for by other family members. Mann is scheduled to make an initial court appearance in Medford on Tuesday, on four charges of attempted first-degree intentional homicide. She’s in jail under a 200-thousand-dollar cash bond. She reportedly explained her feelings about the divorce in letters to her two oldest children and her grandmother.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has agreed to review an alleged harassment case against a former U-W Stevens Point student. The Board of Regents received a restraining order against Jeff Decker in 2011, when he was complaining to U-W officials for what he felt were illegal student fees. Officials said Decker got upset during a meeting with the Stevens Point chancellor – disrupted a meeting of the university Regents – and trespassed on U-W System property. Soon after that, a Dane County judge approved the restraining order. Five months ago, a state appeals court nullified the restraining order, saying Decker had a right to protest the student fee issue. That decision was then appealed by the U-W. Wisconsin Public Radio says the Supreme Court may hear the case in its 2014 session. Jeff Decker is a son of former state Senate Democratic leader Russ Decker of the Wausau area.